After toiling for more than a year, Chinese archaeologists have discovered another large pit next to the world-renowned Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses, from which some terracotta civilian officials were the first to be unearthed.
At the southwest point of the Tomb of Emperor Qinshihuang (the first emperor of China's feudal society), the joint digging team, organized by Shaanxi Provincial Archaeology Institute and the Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum, has been working in the pit for 14 months from last July.
Archaeologists said the pit is one of the central departments of the Qin Dynasty, with civilian officials buried inside.
The total area of the pit is 144 square meters, and, at present, 12 terracotta civilian officials have been unearthed, according to Liu Zhancheng, deputy head of the digging team.
"These figurines are similar to the terracotta warriors in the museum but they all wear official caps, which shows they are civilian officials," Liu said.
However, Liu added, from the bones of horses unearthed from the pit, and due to the similarity in clothing worn by the previously unearthed terracotta treasures, some archaeologists think the 12 pottery figurines are horse trainers.
"Most experts consider the figurines unearthed from the pit are of civilian officials," Liu said. "They think it is a department of justice in the Qin dynasty, like the highest judicial organ at that time. It is one of the central departments in the Qin Dynasty."
Located some 30 kilometers east from Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi Province, the area around the Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum, which opened to the public in 1979, has been the focal point for archaeology, with many ancient relics discovered since then.
(Xinhua News Agency 09/17/2001)