China’s Terracotta Army: Exploring the Tomb Complex and Values of China’s First Emperor

Instructional Resource

Subjects
World History
Grade Levels
Grade 4 Grade 5 Grade 6 Grade 7 Grade 8 Grade 9
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China’s Terracotta Army: Exploring the Tomb Complex and Values of China’s First Emperor

Instructional Resource

In this activity, students will take on the role of archaeologists and make inferences about what objects included in the elaborate tomb complex of China’s First Emperor, Qin Shihuang (259 – 210 BCE) can reveal about his values, afterlife beliefs, and how he saw himself and his world. Students will analyze objects including not only members of the Terracotta Army, a group of approximately 7,000 terracotta soldiers and horses, but also terracotta acrobats, bronze waterfowl, and more. This collection is Part 3 in a series of collections created for a social studies classroom; for more information, click “Read More.”

Objects found in Emperor Qin Shihuang’s elaborate tomb complex, which covers a total area of 17.6 square miles, make up the majority of surviving objects from this significant period in Chinese history. They are some of the best archaeological evidence researchers have for understanding the spiritual beliefs, military practices, and values of the ruler responsible for unifying China for the first time in its history. 

Authors of this collection are the Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, and the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

Tags: archaeology; archaeologist; ancient history; artifact; afterlife; funerary practices; burial; death; spiritual beliefs; military; soldier; sculpture; chinese; world; asia; asian; xi'an; empire; cross-cultural comparison; terra cotta; qin shi huang; shihuangdi; shi huang di; earthenware; ceramics