Monday, July 16, 2012

Park System Trip Gives Rare Glimpse at Terracotta Warriors

This summer has become even more exciting with the Park System's August 11th trip to Discovery Times Square in New York City! What makes this trip different than those previous? This summer the museum has introduced the only East Coast exhibition of China's Terracotta Warriors. It is your chance to get up close and personal with an archaeological find that has been considered the Eighth Wonder of the Ancient World. The warriors are a national treasure for China and have been under excavation since their inadvertent discovery in 1974. If you are not familiar with the story, let's bring you up to speed:

It began as these things usually do, with simple folk going about the business of everyday life, eking out a living to support their families. Foremost in their minds was the need to find water to support their village, never did they imagine that the basic act of digging a well would reveal the archaeological find of the century.

The excavation started out as any other dig, but the magnitude and scope of the project quickly became apparent as scientists found that the site extended approximately 16,000 meters. Thus, in 1975, the State Council authorized the building of a museum at the site, which is divided into three pits, encompassing over 7,000 pottery warriors, horses and chariots!

The army was created during the reign of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, who is famous for unifying China’s warring states, and for beginning construction of the Great Wall. The warriors were intended to guard his tomb and replicate his living army. It is estimated that it took over 700,000 people 37 years to complete all of the figures, which are life-sized and painstakingly, individually detailed, with no two exactly alike.

One of the dismaying aspects of the excavation was that the once bright paint that brought the warriors to life would flake off within hours of exposure to the air. It was not until recently that a team of German scientists created a substance to coat the warriors and preserve their unique colors. Apparently it was the lacquer layer underneath the paint that would dry up as the air hit it, taking the paint as well. It is now hoped that as the excavations continue, more the warriors will be preserved with their original colors.

The current exhibit at Discovery Times Square, in addition to several of the actual restored warriors, includes Han Dynasty Burial Chamber gates, cooking utensils, weapons, jewelry and ritual items in a collection of over 200 artifacts more than 2,000 years old. By this point we're sure we have aroused your curiosity about these amazing artifacts, and want to know all about when to go and how to get there. The Park System wants to make it easy for you to see this amazing exhibit! On Saturday, August 11, we will be leaving Thompson Park by bus and heading to New York City for the day. Fees include timed admission ticket, round trip transportation, and Park System leader. There will be free time for you to enjoy the city and have lunch on your own. Register now!

Staff Contributor: Ann Sage, Cultural Services Division

Note: The Park System has a wide variety of trips scheduled every year! Check out the Fall Directory (to be released on August 10) for trips that will include: Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum; The Best of the Bronx; Total Amish Experience; Grounds for Sculpture; Brooklyn Bridge Walking Tour; Montreal, Quebec & Vermont Overnight and so much more!

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