Scientists solve Terracotta Army Preservation Mystery

The reason behind the preservation of China’s Terracotta Army seems to have been found. The weapons were protected from rust by accident.

The natural conditions under which the monument was created were responsible for the preservation. Marcos Martinon-Torres was a part of a study related to the preservation of the Terracotta Army.  He is working in the Department of Archaeology at the UK’s University of Cambridge.

The researchers from the UK and China looked at the technology, artistry, and materials were brought together to “create something as large and sophisticated as the First Emperor’s Mausoleum,” he told Newsweek.

The Terracotta Army was built for Qin Shi Huang some 2200 years ago. It comprises 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots, 520 horses, and 150 cavalries.
Scientists have been trying to understand how the monument was erected and preserved ever since discovery its in the 1970s.

“We were always fascinated by the possibility that Qin artisans might have used some form of super-advanced technology in order to preserve their weapons for the afterlife,” Martinon-Torres said.

“The pioneering scientific work carried out by Chinese experts in the late 1970s and early 1980s was rigorous and convincing. The results were surprising of course, but then again the archaeology of the Mausoleum is full of fascinating surprises and so the possibility of an ancient chromium-based anti-rust technology seemed plausible.”

According to a study published in Scientific Reports, the presence appears to be the result of contamination from a lacquer that was used to treat the wooden parts of the weapons. As many as 500 weapons were examined in the study by the researchers. They found chromium present only on 37 weapons.