A year ago today I was in Xian, China. The old central city is enclosed by a stone wall; wheat and corn are the main crops; dumplings and noodles are the local specialties. And, it’s brimming with ancient history.
The first emperor, 2000 years ago, had an army of terra cotta soldiers built for his personal protection. There are no historical records of these soldiers. In 1974, a year of drought, a local farmer was digging for a well. His shovel hit something solid. Through extensive excavation, thousands of life-size soldiers were uncovered, many in fragments and poor condition. Today there are three pits with soldiers standing in the ground where they were found. In the first pit alone, 6000 figures were found. Among amazing findings they discovered — each soldier is 5’11”-6′-feet-tall and no two faces are the same. It’s mind-boggling to stand, to walk around the pits, looking into the arena where the soldiers stand in attention, in some cases with horses by their side.
It’s so hard to imagine how many people it must have taken to construct this army, the precision of the artists and craftsmen to create each man as an individual, with a distinct personality and the fact that they are so many centuries old.
As I looked over this wonder of human creation, I reflected on how the Chinese knew how to construct and build figures that would last for thousand of years. Was the emperor’s intent to have his soldiers live with him for eternity? It seems to me that people in ancient civilizations, eg. China, Egypt, Greece, knew how to build things that would last, unlike our current civilizations. I imagine the builders, the common people, were following instructions of the person in power, not knowing that their creations would be seen and revered for so many centuries going forward. I silently, said a thank you, for all who labored there, for their gift to the world they did not know about.