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The Unique Weapons in the Terra-cotta Pits

Terra-cotta ArmyThe Terra-cotta Army is not only a huge subterranean military battle formation, but also an armory of the Qin Dynasty. Approximately tens of thousands of weapons have been unearthed from the partly excavated section of the pits. The weapons can be divided into three categories: long weapons, short weapons and long range weapons, such as spear, halberd, Shu, Pi, sword, Wu hook and cross-bow etc. Especially Pi and Wu hook are the first of their kind so far unearthed.

In ancient Chinese records there is much about Pi Weapon, but no complete weapon has ever been unearthed. Pi weapon belongs to long weapons. Its head is about 30 cm long and looks like a dagger. A 3-meter long shaft is attached to its head. Pi is such kind of sharp weapons used to bayonet.

Wu hook belongs to short weapons. It looks like a crescent moon and there are blades on blades on both edges. Its head is flat and easy to hook, It first appeared in the State of "Wu " , hence the name "Wu hook " .

Some 30 bronze Shu weapons were unearthed in pit 3. Shu weapon in Qin Dynasty was used for ceremonial purposes and a symbol of authority. It is shaped in a cylinder with the head looks like a triangular cone. The warriors in the Pit 3 with holding Shu weapons strengthened majestic atmosphere of the headquarters.

Swords had the highest rank among the weapons in ancient China and were carried by well-known or high-ranking people. About 17 swords have been discovered so far from the Terra-cotta Pits. Besides the general, some officers have swords in their hands, too. The longest sword is about 94.4cm, and the shortest one is 81 cm. The sword discovered intact from Pit 1 originally would have been kept in a wooden scabbard that has been rooted. Its blade is narrow and thin with a ridge along the center. According to analysis, the surface of the sword contains 0.6 to 2% chromium, with a thickness of 10 micron, which acted as a protective coating against corrosion during the long burial. The modern chrome-plating technology appeared in western countries in 1920s to 1930s, but it had emerged in China 2,200 years before. In style and appearance the sword resembles the classic Zhou sword with continued to be used in the succeeding Han Dynasty.

Archaeologists have found almost every kind of weapons the Qin soldiers once used from the pits. The Qin weapons are not only in wide coverage, large number, but also advanced in technology. Ancient craftsmen had consciously regulated the proportions of the three main ingredients of bronze: copper, tin and lead, for casting weapons in different kinds. The bronze swords have a higher percentage of tin (21.3%) than in other bronze pieces from the excavation. This higher tin content resulted in an increased hardness comparable with tempered carbon steel. Advanced anti-rust technology of metal is another magnificent character of the Qin bronze weapons. Although the bronze swords had been buried for more than 2,000 years, they looked as shiny as new when they were unearthed, and could cut 19 layers of paper. It was the chrome-plating technology 2,000 years ago protected the sharpness of the swords.

Crossbows and arrowheads belong to long range weapons. The trigger mechanism for a crossbow is a type that, having been invented towards the end of the Zhou Dynasty, quickly found favors and was widely used in Qin Dynasty. The trigger is composed of four separately cast pieces and is very much more powerful than any of its contemporary weapons as it could, fire a bronze arrowhead a distance of 800 meters. The arrowhead is the largest of 800 meters. The arrowheads, the largest number among the weapons unearthed, are extremely sharp.

The unearthed weapons demonstrate that Chinese metallurgy reached a high level in the Qin Dynasty. The Qin weapons were even standardized made then. Analysis has shown that the pointed heads of the arrows are triangular cones with equal sides. The two bolts on all the crossbow triggers are interchangeable. The arms manufacturing industry was well developed and strictly administered by the Qin State, too. A number of excavated weapons form the terra-cotta pits have brief inscription, describing the name of official unit for manufacturing arms. We can believe that the most advanced technology and top craftsmen of that era were involved in creating these brilliant bronze weapons.