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Terracotta Warriors & Figures: Object Analysis

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

In this activity, students will use visual evidence to try guess the roles of figures found in the elaborate tomb complex of China's First Emperor, Qin Shihuang (259 – 210 BCE), and analyze what they may reveal about his values, how he saw himself, and how he saw his world.  

Objects found in Emperor Qin Shihuang’s elaborate tomb complex, which covers a total area of 17.6 square miles and contains over 7,000 terracotta figures, 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.

Keywords: archaeology, archaeologist, ancient history, artifact, afterlife, funerary practices, burial, death, spiritual beliefs, military, soldier, sculpture, chinese, world, asia, asian, xi'an, empire, cross-cultural comparison, terra cotta, qin shi huang, shihuangdi, shi huang di, earthenware, ceramics, pottery, terracotta army

Mystery Object

Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum

Mystery Object

Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum

Mystery Object

Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum

Mystery Object

Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum

Mystery Object

Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum

Mystery Object

Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum

Mystery Object

Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum

Map of Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Tomb Complex

Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum

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