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Terracotta Army collaboration renewed

30 September 2016

The signing ceremony at the UCL’s Council Room

The UCL Institute of Archaeology and the Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum in Lintong, Xi’an, China, recently renewed their collaborative agreement at a signing ceremony at UCL.

The renewed collaboration agreement has been sanctioned by the Chinese State Administration of Cultural Heritage, and adopted formally as a British Academy Project, hence receiving institutional endorsement at the highest level in both China and the UK. The collaboration started in 2006 and has led to numerous research, training and knowledge exchange visits between both institutions, as materialised in numerous publications in several languages and a wide range of public engagement activities.

Prof Hou Ningbin, Director of the First Emperor’s Mausoleum Site Museum, and Sue Hamilton, Director of the UCL Institute of Archaeology, sign the agreement under the gaze of Professor Mary Fulbrook, Dean of the Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences

The project 'Imperial Logistics: The Making of the Terracotta Army' seeks to understand the crafting methods and logistical organisation behind the creation of the famous Terracotta Army and the broader mausoleum constructed in the 3rd century BC for China’s first emperor. The work, centred on this World Heritage site, has capitalised on the synergic strengths of both partner institutions, incorporating scientific approaches such as archaeometallurgy, ceramic analysis, geometric morphometrics and spatial statistics.

The multinational team has revealed that the workforce that built the Terracotta Army 2,200 years ago was organised in production cells that worked in parallel, in addition to providing insight into many other aspects of how people, materials and knowledge were orchestrated to make this unique construction possible.

Attendees to the signing ceremony in London included Rong Zhao (Director of the Shaanxi Administration of Cultural Heritage), Ningbin Hou (Director of the Museum), Weiling Wang (Director of the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology), as well as UCL’s Anthony Smith (Vice-Provost for Education), Mary Fulbrook (Dean of the Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences), Sue Hamilton (Director of the UCL Institute of Archaeology) and Thilo Rehren (Professor of Archaeological Materials and Technologies), among several others from both partner institutions.

Other guests included Jiang Sunan (Minister Counselor for Science and Technology at the Chinese Embassy in the UK) and representatives from Rio Tinto, the Institute for Archaeo-Metallurgical Studies and the British Academy, who sponsor the project.