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Building the Terracotta Army: ceramic craft technology and organisation of production at Qin Shihuang's mausoleum complex

  • Patrick Sean Quinn (a1), Shangxin Zhang (a2) (a3), Yin Xia (a2) and Xiuzhen Li (a2)

Despite decades of research into the Terracotta Army of the First Emperor of China, many questions remain about how, where and by whom the figures were made. This new study compares the results of microscopic analysis of the life-sized clay statues to other ceramic artefacts recovered from the mausoleum. By focusing on their original raw materials and clay paste recipes, it proves that the terracotta warriors were made near the site. Compositional, technological and spatial links between different artefacts suggest that clay was processed centrally before being distributed to different local workshops in a highly organised system of labour and craft specialisation that laid the foundation for imperial China.

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