Countless foot-tall terra cotta (clay) soldiers, horses, and chariots were revealed in four burial pits at a Han Dynasty tomb complex about three hundred miles south of Beijing. The continuous findings of the figures in these pits are leading specialists to think that the whole site may cover as much as ten thousand square feet. .
The dimensions of the numerous "warrior pits" being found indicate that this tomb complex is that of a Han noblemen or relative of a Han ruler. Although, the Han Dynasty had strict and specific funeral customs that stated that only generals could be buried with the warriors and horses, leading professionals to think that the clay figures are a kind of honor guard. Other professionals point out that "previous warrior pit discoveries include seven thousand life-size figures found at the tomb of China's first emperor, Qin Shihuangdi, in 1974, and forty thousand figurines in the tomb of the later Emperor Jingdi and Empress Wang (157-141 B.C.), excavated in 1990" (Archaeology March/April 2003 pg.36) The issue will remain uncertain until the owner of the tomb complex is identified. .
The discovery of this terra cotta army is significant because the pattern of its organization-cavalrymen followed by chariots and infantrymen- is the primary archaeological evidence for a standard Han Dynasty battle formation. "Cui Dayong, vice director of the Jinan Municipal Bureau of Cultural Relics, notes that "the formation of the warriors and horses agrees with what we know of how Han noblemen went out with their troops. Before now, such a formation could only be studied in Han paintings and writings. It is the first time we were able to dig out the real artifacts shown in such scenes"" (Archaeology March/April 2003 pg 38). .
Lobell, Jarrett A. "Warriors of Clay." Archaeology. March/April 2003: 36-38. .