If you are traveling to Chicago in 2016…
Be sure to make time for one of the most historically significant exhibitions of Chinese artifacts ever on display at the Field Museum. This one-of-a-kind collection of items discovered within the tomb of China’s First Emperor are currently on display through January, 2017.
Not a lot of historical information is available regarding King Zheng of Qin, the man who eventually became known as Qin Shihuangdi, China’s First Emperor. What is known is that in the second century B.C., he ascended to the Qin throne at the age of 13. By the time he turned 40, he conquered his enemies and succeeded in unifying a number of waring kingdoms. In doing so he not only created the Empire of China, but also created a number of enemies for himself.
Emperor Shihuangdi grew concerned about what might happen to him in the afterlife and ordered the construction of terracotta warriors to protect him after death. In 1974 a farmer digging a well for his farm discovered the larger-than-life figures on his property. The estimated 8,000 statues are considered to be one of the greatest archeological discoveries of the 20th century.
The statues are a representation of what a fully formed army would have looked like during Shihuangdi’s reign. There are standing and kneeling archers, infantry men, cavalry men, a charioteer and even a cavalry horse. In addition to the terracotta sculptures, archeologists also discovered bronze figures that represent acrobats, musicians, and exotic animals, all thought to have been created to entertain the Emperor in the afterlife. Experts believe that it took tens of thousands of workers over 30 years to create this 22-square mile burial complex.
The army is but one piece of what was discovered in the sprawling tomb. Archeologists also found musical instruments, jewelry, and other precious goods that would have mimicked items from the Emperor’s everyday life. Many of these items are also on exhibition giving guests a snapshot of what day-to-day life might have looked like for China’s First Emperor.
Tickets for the exhibition vary in price depending on date and the age of the guest. Information regarding admission, directions to the museum, and other exhibits currently on display can be found online at fieldmuseum.org.