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Terra cotta warriors come to Houston

Friday, May 22, 2009

They are among the most important archaeological finds in history and they are now on display in Houston.

The "terra cotta warriors" were buried with the first emperor of China to protect him in the afterlife.

Now, 2000 years later, some of these soldiers have arrived in our city, and they're waiting for you at the Museum of Natural Science.

The setting? China, the 1970s, allowing no foreign visitors in. To the rest of the world, the communist country is steeped in mystery and secrecy. March 29th of 1974, in the city of Xian, a discovery rocks the field of archaeology and the imagination of the world.

"The weather was very dry. Three of us farmers worked together as a group. We were digging a well," a Xian native said.

As he and three other men dug through the dry earth, they happened upon what many call the greatest archaeological find in history -- the buried tomb complex of the first emperor of China, and his terra cotta army.

"It's not several hundred objects, it's tens of thousands of objects, and it's not several square meters, it's tens of thousands of square meters," HMNS President Joel Bartsch said.

Thousands of fired clay warriors, horses, and chariots were found, all life-sized and life-like, each detailed with different ranks, clothing, hairstyles, and expressions, standing at attention to guard Emperor Qin in the afterlife.

In keeping with the theme of making everything larger than life, the emperor made sure that the terra cotta statues stood more than six feet tall.

An estimated 8000 soldiers, 130 chariots and 670 horses were discovered, most of them still buried in three separate pits. More than 100 objects, including warriors and horses, have made the journey here to Houston. Now they stand waiting for you to discover them.

The terra cotta warriors exhibit has broken attendance records all over the world, and we expect the same here. You can see the warriors at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. They will be on display until October.

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