Terracotta Warriors may have been training tools

China’s famed Terracotta Warriors may have been military training aids, according to new research. The 1,800 year-old army of more than 8,000 life-sized terracotta soldiers, horses and chariots, is traditionally believed to have acted as guardians of the first emperor China. But new research has cast doubt on this theory.

Researchers at the geological bureau of northwest China’s Shaanxi province, home of the Terracotta Army, now claim that they could have been military training models. Chinese state media agency, Xinhua reported senior researcher, Sun Jiachun, as saying that the nearby ruins of a military school indicate that the warriors were nothing more than elaborate training tool, much like the bags of straw and sand used by British troops in bayonet practice.

“The Terracotta Warriors were found at least 1.5km from the mausoleum’s outer walls,” Sun said in an interview with Xinhua today. “They were poorly organised and were not led by a general, which contradicts ancient China’s military system.”

“The first emperor… must have wanted the army to serve their kingdom – probably by using the clay figures as a teaching aid at their military school.”

His findings, which follow three decades of research, have now been released in a book which is sure to spark fierce debate in China. Article link.

The UNESCO World Heritage-listed site is highly protected in China, and only a handful of foreign dignitaries, including Queen Elizabeth II, have been permitted to walk through the figures.