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Terra Cotta Countdown


Exciting times here at National Geographic headquarters! Yes, today IS my birthday … but that’s not the reason. In just one week, Terra Cotta Warriors: Guardians of China’s First Emperor opens at our museum. More than 80,000 tickets have already been sold for the exhibition—the largest collection of the life-sized figures ever to tour the United States.


NatGeo staff began uncrating and placing the warriors last week. They’ve been crafting the exhibition space (behind high wooden walls and locked doors) for months.


The thousands of clay soldiers, charioteers, archers, musicians, generals, and acrobats that—along with hundreds of horses and at least 100 chariots—comprise the Terra Cotta Army were buried shoulder-to-shoulder in vast pits nearly 2,000 years ago. Their purpose? Accompany emperor Qin Shihuangdi into the afterlife.


The massive trove of figures, discovered by farmers digging a well in 1974 near the city of Xi’an, ranks among the 20th century’s most important and astonishing archaeological finds.


BlogWild documented the advance ticket sales kickoff back in May, when living Terra Cotta warrior Zheng Chi Chang dazzled D.C. schoolkids before handing them free tickets to the exhibition.


Purchase tickets, get the official exhibition book, or find more Terra Cotta treasures (including life-size replicas of the warriors—no home is complete without one!) in the National Geographic Store. And don’t forget to follow the exhibition and get updates from the National Geographic Museum on Facebook and on Twitter.

Photographs by Kate Baylor, O. Louis Mazzatenta, Wang Da Gang, and Ford Cochran