Skip to Content

China’s Terracotta Army: Introduction to China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Army

3 Favorites 2 Copies (view)
Cultures +2 Age Levels Elementary (9 to 12 years old), Middle School (13 to 15 years old)

In this activity, students will learn about the life, achievements, and historical legacy of the First Emperor of China, Emperor Qin Shihuang (259 – 210 BCE). In order to understand why he, and the developments he shaped, are so historically significant, students will explore objects from the Qin (221 – 206 BCE) and Han (206 BCE – 220 CE) dynasties and use information learned to create arguments about the past. This collection is Part 1 in a series of collections created for a social studies classroom; for more information, click “Read More.”

Objects found in Emperor Qin Shihuang’s elaborate tomb complex, which covers a total area of 17.6 square miles, make up the majority of surviving objects from this significant period in Chinese history. They are some of the best archaeological evidence researchers have for understanding the spiritual beliefs, military practices, and values of the ruler responsible for unifying China for the first time in its history. 

Authors of this collection are the Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, and the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

Tags: archaeology; archaeologist; ancient history; artifact; afterlife; funerary practices; burial; death; spiritual beliefs; military; soldier; sculpture; chinese; world; asia; asian; xi'an; empire; leader; see wonder connect; headlines; strategy; project zero; visible thinking routine; terra cotta; qin shi huang; shihuangdi; shi huang di; earthenware; ceramics

Mystery Object Trio

Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum

Art and Archaeology of Ancient China Timeline

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Inscription on terracotta armor (咸阳庆)

Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum

Coin

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Measuring Ladle

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Pit No. 1

Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum

See Think Wonder: Project Zero Visible Thinking Routine

Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

Headlines: Project Zero Visible Thinking Routine

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access