BEIJING (AP) - China plans to excavate more of the life-size terracotta warriors at the famed ancient tomb of the country's first emperor, an official newspaper said Wednesday.
Archeologists hope to uncover more figures of officers to add to the 1,000-plus statues already excavated, the official China Daily newspaper said Wednesday. Special care will be taken to preserve the figures' painted details, which have decayed almost entirely in those already exposed to the air.
The new dig is the third undertaken since the tomb was first uncovered in 1974 outside the western city of Xi'an and will focus on a 2,152-square foot (2000-square meter) patch lying within the tomb's main pit that holds the main warrior force.
In all, the tomb's three pits are thought to hold 8,000 life-sized figures, including those of archers, infantry soldiers, horse-drawn chariots, officers and acrobats. It is believed they were created to protect the emperor in the afterlife.
No two figures are alike, and craftsmen are believed to have modeled them after a real army.
A fourth pit was apparently left empty by its builders, while the actual burial chamber of the first emperor, Qin Shihuang, at the center of the complex has yet to be excavated.
Qin, who died in 210 B.C. at the age of 50, created China's first unitary state by conquering rival kingdoms. He built an extensive system of roads and canals along with an early incarnation of the Great Wall of China, while unifying measurements and establishing a single written language, currency and legal statutes.
Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.