After our work at Jubilee School in Gansu, we took our students to Xian for a bit of academic and cultural exchange. After visiting Xian Jiaotung University, we also took them on an obligatory visit to see Emperor Qin’s Terra Cotta Army. As we all know by now, practically every soldier, horse, etc., was broken into numerous pieces, and it took a tremendous amount of painstaking work to put each of the statues back together.
I was surprised to find that the place looked exactly the same as in 2003, when I was there the last time. Not much excavation or restoration seemed to have been done. On the Monday afternoon, these women were the only ones working at the site; and I said work a little liberally - there seemed to be more chatting than work going on. At this rate, the site would probably not look very different after another 2000 years.
It was said that the colour of the terra cotta would fade as soon as they are exposed to the air because of oxidation. Actually ways have already been found to prevent or at least control the discoloring. Given that so many people are so eager to find out what other treasures lie in Emperor Qin’s burial site, I doubt whether this is the real reason that excavation has stopped.