Imperial Logistics: The Making of the Terracotta Army


The British Academy in Xi'an

14 February 2013

Prof Dame Hellen Wallace (right) and Dr Xiuzhen Janice Li

I have just returned from a spell of a few months in Xi’an, where I have been continuing the data acquisition while working on ongoing publications. A highlight of my time there was the visit by a distinguished delegation led by Professor Dame Helen Wallace, Foreign Secretary of the British Academy, to the Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum. That was an official visit to mark the adoption of our “Imperial Logistics” as a British Academy project.

The cooperation between the Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum and UCL Institute of Archaeology started in 2006. Five years (2006-2011) of joint research have lead to some fruitful achievements, the initial publications, and a substantial amount of media coverage and further dissemination. With encouragement from China’s National Bureau of Culture Heritage and the Shaanxi Provincial Bureau of Cultural Relics, we were very keen to take forward our work with the terracotta warriors, their bronze weapons and other components of the Mausoleum. A highlight of this cooperation in 2012 came when the British Academy awarded ‘Imperial Logistics: The Making of the Terracotta Army’ a distinction as a prominent BA project, promising support for another five years.

Professor Dame Helen Wallace said: “we welcome the way in which this project is bringing together specialists from University College London and Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum.” She also mentioned that the British Academy was proud to support a project that blended multi-disciplinary methods to investigate the technology and logistics behind the Qin Terracotta Army. Professor Cao Wei, Director of the Museum, introduced the ongoing archaeological work within the Emperor Qin Shihuang’s tomb complex to the delegation, and expressed his determination to maintain a pleasant and productive cooperation. 


Xiuzhen Janice Li is a Senior Archaeologist at the Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, China.