Brushes With Greatness
With the greatest of care, archaeologists in early June clean the head of a terra-cotta warrior in the funerary complex of China's first emperor—one of more than a hundred life-size figures uncovered during the latest phase of the excavation, which began in 2009.
Archaeologists have also recently found terra-cotta horses, chariots, weaponry, and drums as well as the clay army's first known shield—proof of the equipment real-life soldiers would have carried.
Excavations have been carried out here since the site, near the city of Xi'an, was discovered in 1974. The artifacts belonged to a vast man-made army meant to guard the tomb of Qin Shi Huang Di, the third-century-B.C. leader whose dynasty, Qin (pronounced CHIN), likely gave the country its modern name.
When the emperor was buried more than 2,000 years ago, the warriors were brightly painted. Archaeologists are surprised that so much of the color has survived on the figures they've just uncovered.
(See National Geographic magazine pictures: "Terra-Cotta Warriors in Color.")