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; literally: "Soldier-and-horse funerary statues") is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China.It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BCE and whose purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife.The figures, dating from approximately the late third century BCE, were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in Lintong District, Xi'an, Shaanxi province.

The construction of the tomb was described by historian Sima Qian (145–90 BCE) in his most noted work Shiji, written a century after the mausoleum's completion.Work on the mausoleum began in 246 BCE soon after Emperor Qin (then aged 13) ascended the throne, and the project eventually involved 700,000 workers.Geographer Li Daoyuan, writing six centuries after the First Emperor's death, recorded in Shui Jing Zhu that Mount Li was a favoured location due to its auspicious geology, "famed for its jade mines, its northern side was rich in gold, and its southern side rich in beautiful jade; the First Emperor, covetous of its fine reputation, therefore chose to be buried there".Sima Qian wrote that the First Emperor was buried with palaces, towers, officials, valuable artifacts and wondrous objects.According to this account, 100 flowing rivers were simulated using mercury, and above them the ceiling was decorated with heavenly bodies below which were the features of the land.

Some translations of this passage refer to "models" or "imitations;" however, those words were not used in the original text, which makes no mention of the terracotta army.a region riddled with underground springs and watercourses.For centuries, occasional reports mentioned pieces of terracotta figures and fragments of the Qin necropolis – roofing tiles, bricks and chunks of masonry.This discovery prompted Chinese archaeologists to investigate, revealing the largest pottery figurine group ever found in China.A museum complex has since been constructed over the area, with the largest pit enclosed within with a large structure.The Terracotta Army is part of a much larger necropolis.