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New Secrets of the Terracotta Warriors

6 December 2013

New Secrets of the Terracotta Army (Image credit: Channel 4)

Collaborative research on China's Terracotta Army led by Institute staff and international colleagues will feature in a new film to be screened in the UK on 8 December.

New Secrets of the Terracotta Warriors will be broadcast on Sunday 8 December 2013 at 8pm on Channel 4. It is part of Channel 4's Secret History strand, which showcases the best historical journalism.

The film is the first public presentation of research led by Xiuzhen Janice Li, Andrew Bevan, Marcos Martinón-Torres and their colleagues, which involves a number of innovative scientific methods and exciting results. 

The true extent of the site and number of warriors is revealed in the film; what is also surprising is that the weapons carried by the warriors were full military grade, rather than replicas - they were designed to kill as efficiently in the afterlife as in this one! 

New Secrets of the Terracotta Warriors

The Imperial Logistics of the Terracotta Army project is a joint research initiative between the UCL Institute of Archaeology and the Museum of Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum. It pursues two main research aims - to  investigate the crafting methods and logistical organisation behind the construction of the Terracotta Army and the broader mausoleum of the First Emperor of China and to develop novel hypotheses and methods that may be used as a comparative platform for studying craft specialisation, logistical organisation, cross-craft interactions and strategies of enforced social cohesion in emerging imperial systems.

As Marcos has indicated:

  • "Our project brings together specialists from several different fields in order to open up entirely new areas of insight into both the warriors and their world...Given the project’s wider context as an international collaboration centred on a World Heritage site, two important further dimensions are specialist knowledge exchange among Chinese and Western scholars, and wide public engagement."

In 2012, the initiative was adopted by the British Academy as an Academy Research Project in recognition of “the excellence of their scholarship, and the promise and excitement of their programmes”. Only five projects have received this recognition since 2008.

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