Making weapons for the Terracotta Army
- ISSN: 1463-1725
- DOI: 10.5334/ai.1316
The Terracotta Army of the First Emperor of China is one of the most emblematic archaeological sites in the world. Many questions remain about the logistics of technology, standardisation and labour organisation behind the creation of such a colossal construction in just a few decades over 2,000 years ago. An ongoing research project co-ordinated between the UCL Institute of Archaeology and the Emperor Qin Shihang's Terracotta Army Museum is beginning to address some of these questions. This paper outlines some results of the typological, metric, microscopic, chemical and spatial analyses of the 40,000 bronze weapons recovered with the Terracotta Warriors. Thanks to a holistic approach developed specifically for this project, it is possible to reveal remarkable aspects of the organisation of the Qin workforce in production cells, of the standardisation, efficiency and quality-control procedures employed, and of the sophisticated technical knowledge of the weapon-makers.