Skip to main content
×
Home

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)
Abstract
Abstract

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.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Building the Terracotta Army: ceramic craft technology and organisation of production at Qin Shihuang's mausoleum complex
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Building the Terracotta Army: ceramic craft technology and organisation of production at Qin Shihuang's mausoleum complex
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Building the Terracotta Army: ceramic craft technology and organisation of production at Qin Shihuang's mausoleum complex
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence (Email: patrick.quinn@ucl.ac.uk)
References
Hide All
Barbieri-Low A. 2007. Artisans in early imperial China. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
Freestone I.C., Wood N. & Rawson J.. 1989. Shang Dynasty casting moulds from north China, in McGovern P.E., Notis M.D. & Kingery D. (ed.) Cross-craft and cross-cultural interactions in ceramics (Ceramics and Civilization 4): 253–74. Westerville (OH): American Ceramic Society.
Gao Z.Y., Zhao W.J., Li G.X., Xie J.Z., Han G.H., Feng S.L., Fan D.Y., Zhang Y., Chai Z.F., Li R.W., Zhang Z.L. & Zhu J.X.. 2003. Neutron activation of sources of raw material of Emperor Qin Shi Huang's terracotta warriors and horses. Science in China 46: 6270.
Hu Y.Q., Zhang Z.L., Bera S., Ferguson D., Li C.S., Shao W.B. & Wang Y.F.. 2007. What can pollen grains from the Terracotta Army tell us? Journal of Archaeological Science 34: 1153–57. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2006.10.026
Ledderose L. 2000. The magic army of the First Emperor, in Ledderose L. (ed.) Ten thousand things. Module and mass production in Chinese art: 5173. Princeton (NJ): Princeton University Press.
Ledderose L. 2001. The magic army of the First Emperor, in Blansdorf C., Emmerling E. & Petzet M. (ed.) The Terracotta Army of the first Chinese emperor Qin Shihuang. Monuments and sites II: 273307. Munich: International Council on Monuments and Sites.
Lei Y., Gao B. & Yuan S.. 2004. Neutron activation analysis for the provenance study on Terracotta Army of Qin Shihuang. Nuclear Techniques 27: 38–27.
Li X. 2007a. An investigation into ceramic production for the First Emperor from the distribution of kilns in his tomb complex, in Research on Qin terracotta warriors and Qin culture, volume 14: 429–43. Xi'an: Shaanxi.
Li X. 2007b. A pile of unfired bricks discovered in the north-west corner of pit 2 and related research questions, in Research on Qin terracotta warriors and Qin culture, volume 14: 422–28. Xi'an: Shaanxi.
Li X., Bevan A., Martinón-Torres M., Rehren Th., Cao W., Xia Y. & Zhao K.. 2014. Crossbows and imperial craft organisation: the bronze triggers of China's Terracotta Army. Antiquity 88: 126–40. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003598X00050262
Li X., Bevan A., Martinón-Torres M., Xia Y. & Zhao K.. 2016. Marking practices and the making of the Qin Terracotta Army. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 42: 169–83. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaa.2016.04.002
Liu S., Wang K., Cai Q. & Chen J.. 2013. Microscopic study of Chinese bronze casting moulds from the Eastern Zhou period. Journal of Archaeological Science 40: 2402–14. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2012.11.010
Martinón-Torres M., Li X., Bevan A., Xia Y., Zhao K. & Rehren Th.. 2014. Forty thousand arms for a single emperor: from chemical data to labor organization in the production of bronze arrows for the Terracotta Army. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 21: 534–62. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10816-012-9158-z
Nickel L. 2007. The Terracotta Army, in Portal J. (ed.) The First Emperor: China's terracotta army: 159–79. Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press.
Qin G., Pan X. & Li S.. 1989. Mössbauer firing study of terracotta warriors and horses of the Qin Dynasty (221 BC). Archaeometry 31: 312. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-4754.1989.tb01051.x
Quinn P.S. 2013. Ceramic petrography: the interpretation of archaeological pottery and related artefacts in thin section. Oxford: Archaeopress.
Rong B. & Lan D.. 2005. Polarized light microscopy on the fragments of Qin terracotta. Sciences of Conservation and Archaeology 17: 3539.
Shan J., Zhou J.Z., Wang C.S., Qin P., Zhang Z.L., Zhu J.X. & Zhang Y.L. 2003. Preliminary study of provenance and firing style of terracotta from Qinshihuang Mausoleum. Nuclear Techniques 26: 299305.
Shao A., Mei J., Yang J., Chen K. & Sun W.. 2015. Preliminary scientific analysis of bronze waterfowl clay core unearthed in the mausoleum of the First Emperor. Cultural Relics in Southern China 1: 7280.
Stoltman J.B., Jing Z., Tang J. & Rapp G.. 2009. Ceramic production in Shang societies of Anyang. Asian Perspectives 48: 182203. https://doi.org/10.1353/asi.0.0013
Sun J. 2002. Provenance of loess material and formation of loess deposits on the Chinese Loess Plateau. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 203: 845–59. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0012-821X(02)00921-4
Tan D. 1999. A study of the techniques of bronze casting with clay moulds in Bronze Age China. Acta Archaeologica Sinica 2: 211–63.
Whitbread I.K. 1986. The characterization of argillaceous inclusions in ceramic thin sections. Archaeometry 28: 7988. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-4754.1986.tb00376.x
Wiedemann H.G., Boller A. & Bayer G.. 1988. Thermoanalytical investigation on terracotta warriors of the Qin Dynasty, in Sayre E., Vandiver P., Druzik J. & Stevenson C. (ed.) Materials issues in art and archaeology. Symposium April 6–8, 1988, Reno, Nevada, USA (Materials Research Society Symposium Proceedings 123): 129–34. Warrendale (PA): Materials Research Society.
Wood N. 2000. Plate tectonics and Chinese ceramics: new insights into the origins and distribution of China's ceramic raw materials, in Crick M. (ed.) Taoci no. 1, actes du colloque Le ‘Blue et Blanc’ du Proche-Orient à la Chine: 1524. Paris: Revue Annuelle de la Société française d’étude de la céramique orientale.
Yang H. & Yang G.. 1979. Selections from records of the historian by Szuma Chien. Beijing: Foreign Languages.
Yates R.D.S. 2007. The rise of Qin and the military conquest of the Warring States, in Portal J. (ed.) The First Emperor: China's terracotta army: 3157. London: British Museum.
Yuan Z. 1987. Qin pottery inscriptions. Xi'an: Sanqin.
Yuan Z. 1990. Research on the terracotta warriors and horses from the mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shihuang. Beijing: Cultural Relics.
Yuan Z. & Snethlage R.. 2006. Microscopic study of Chinese bronze casting moulds from the Eastern Zhou period, in Xi'an—Kaiserliche Macht in Jenesits: Grabfunde und Tempelschätze aus Chinas alter Hauptstadt: 165–80. Bonn: Kunst- und Austellungshalle de Bundesrepublik Deutschland.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 479
Total number of PDF views: 663 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 1965 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 8th August 2017 - 18th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.