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Chinas Terracotta Army Exhibit at the High Museum of Art ~ Atlanta, GA

The High Museum of Art was our top destination on this Atlanta trip. We are studying Ancient History this year and wanted the opportunity to see some chunks of ancient history live and in person. The High had been invaded by an ancient army, The First Emperor ~ China's Terracotta Army has taken up residence until April 19, 2009.

On a time limit (the one really bad drawback of LivingHistorySites.com) we got our tickets. We quickly scanned the brochures to figure out what to see first, prioritizing the museum, from most important exhibit to we'll be okay if we miss it. Mentally allot time and then go for it, knowing that you have enough time to explore the museum, although not necessarily as leisurely as you would like. Our goal was China's Terracotta Army, The Louvre and the Masterpiece, then the permanent collection which is always there.

The Terracotta Army ~ The 8th Wonder of the Ancient World

We entered the Chinese invasion of the High Museum. It began with an excellent little film on the First Emperor of China, Qin Shihuangdi (pronounced Chin). Multi-media usually bothers me at museums, but the High has done it well. The short 3 minute video gave you insight into the First Emperor of China, who conquered surrounding states and unified China 200 years before Christ.

Emperor Qin was a masterful warrior commander with a plan. Ruling from 221-210 BC, he turned the state into a war machine that conquered, then united China.

Qin built his army carefully and sent them into battle with great precision.The infantry came with chariots, then cavalry with highly trained horseman, followed by the foot soldiers. Qin was the first to mass produce weaponry with exact specifications. In 221 BC, they created a crossbow trigger mechanism with three separate, interchangeable pieces. If one broke in battle, another was inserted in it's place and the crossbow continued to function. Arrows were tipped with interchangeable arrow shafts, using advanced technology. Qin's army carried bronze swords. Smaller wheels and tighter spokes made the chariots more stable. 

Not being able to take photos in the Terracotta Army exhibit was a bit rough. We like to photograph the objects, and the signs that explain them. It helps our historical reviews be more accurate. I so wish I could have taken a shot of the huge weight on display and the sign that went with it as we walked through the artifacts leading up to the main exhibit. 

During Qin's reign, China created a specific set of weights and measures. An edict had been issued that all weights had a standard measure. Inside a museum case, was a large weight, with the following inscription: Worker Ping. Supervisor Qu.  Production manger Xi of Qi Yuan. Each weight listed the man who made it, his supervisors, and the exact location it was made. They were held accountable for defective workmanship.

In our Bible study the week before, we had been studying what scripture says about "differing weights." Differing weights and differing measures, both of them are abominable to the LORD, Proverbs 20:10 says and 20:23 says "Differing weights are an abomination to the LORD, and a false scale is not good, while Proverbs 11:1 says A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight. Talk about making the scripture come alive! Seeing the weights in the ancient China display, along with inscribed accountability, really made these verses come alive.

Obsessed with dying, Emperor Qin had an elaborate palace built for his afterlife. This is how the "8th ancient wonder of the world" came into being, a Terracotta Army built to guard China's first Emperor in death. 

As we entered the room filled with the soldiers, a hush fell over everyone, and we all stood and stared at this gigantic army made of slightly larger than life statues. Discovered in 1974, by men drilling a well, this army had been underground for 2200 years. Armored infantrymen, charioteers, cavalry and horses stood in rows, ready to protect. Menacing, huge, like life sized toy soldiers in full ancient dress, an awe inspiring sight. Generals were the tallest and most formidable of the Terracotta Army, representing their power. Even civilian administrators were part of the army, poised and ready to attend to all of the needs in the afterlife.

The scale was overwhelming, the largest to ever come to the United States. The reality slowly sunk in. To think that the first emperor of China felt he needed a life sized clay army to defend him in the afterlife was sobering. 

Emperor Qin assembled his Terracotta Army like he did his weapons, mass produced, on an assembly line. Artists sculpted individual faces at the end of the assembly line. 

An estimated 7000 soldiers exist underground, with about 1000 having been excavated.

There is so much more to tell on this great exhibit, you will just have to visit it in Houston at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, where it is going next as the Terracotta Warriors Guardians of China's First Emperor, from May to Sept 2009. Then on to the National Geographic Society Museum in Washington DC, from Nov 2009 to March2010.

Time Magazine rated Terra Cotta Warriors and the First Emperor of China a Top 10 Museum Exhibit in 2008!

Museums are full of wonder, and we happened to catch Louvre Atlanta: the Louvre and the Masterpiece. What a treat that was, read more about it here!

If you are in Atlanta, you know it is a bit of a nightmare to get around, and finding the High was no exception. The streets twist at odd angles, with freeways interwoven. You figure out how to get there, then realize you mapped it on one way streets. Then there are the street names. Every other street has some form of the name “Peachtree” in it or it is some long drawn out person’s name. People are everywhere, cars are flying through, taxis chasing yellow lights, it is a city, alive and pulsing! It is great. Yet your little former California city self is sitting in the middle of it thinking, “we country folk now!”

After a bit of a driving adventure, we rounded a corner and there sat the High Museum of Art, gleaming up at us. We drove around and parked in the back of the museum, paying $11 for that privilege. As we left, we saw cheaper parking lots adjacent, so make that decision. We always forget that parking has a price in the city.

Coming up out of the dark parking tower, we emerged from the elevator to the bright sunlight filtering through flowering early spring trees in the courtyard, the High Museum glittering in the sunlight. A huge banner announced the Louvre and China's Terracotta Army, and Terracotta soldiers guarded the gift shop. It was a beautiful sight. This is going to be good, we thought!

LivingHistorySites.com highly recommends visiting the High Museum in Atlanta, it is worth it!

The High is located in Midtown Atlanta at:

1280 Peachtree Street, N.E.
Atlanta, GA 30309

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