It is, of course, one of the most famous tourist sights in the world.
Each year, thousands of people flock to Shaanxi, China, to visit the iconic Terracotta Army, which depicts the artillery of Qin Shi Huang: the country’s first Emperor.
But, nearly four decades after it was inadvertently excavated in 1974, technology has just made the experience remotely accessible thanks to a stunning interactive 360-degree video.
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Digital exhibition: Chinese web company Baidu Baike has created a definitve visitor experience that’s fully accessible online
Privileged position: It also allows people to effectively ‘walk’ through the creation, which is prohibited for physical visitors
Technology triumph: Fully accessible on smartphone, tablets and laptops, the spectacle is created using 20 billion pixel-resolution images, all panoramic, and provides immediate access to pits one and three of the four sites
Chinese web company Baidu Baike has developed the Street View-inspired feature, which is billed as a digital museum for the modern age.
Designed in conjunction with the Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, it’s a first for the Unesco World Heritage site and is expected to renew interest in the timeless funerary art.
Fully accessible on smartphone, tablets and laptops, the spectacle iscreated using 20 billion pixel-resolution images, all panoramic, and provides immediate access to pits one and three of the four sites.
The project was officially launched on Thursday, marking the 41st International Museum Day.
Using a dashboard function, users can easily navigate the site, choosing whether to view the figures close-up or from a distance. It also allows people to effectively ‘walk’ through the creation, which is, of course, prohibited for physical visitors.
Up close and personal: Using a dashboard function, users all over the world can easily navigate the historic site, choosing whether to view the iconic figures close-up or from a distance – while also being able to peer at the tourist viewing deck
Since their discovery, experts have questioned whether the life-size models of soldiers – which date back to in 210 to 209 BC – were based on real warriors or whether they came off a production line.
In October a BBC documentary, The Greatest Tomb on Earth: Secrets of Ancient China, suggested the inspiration for the Terracotta Warriors may have come from Ancient Greece.
Experts have also pondered the question.
Archaeologist Li Xiuzhen, from the Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, said: ‘We now have evidence that close contact existed between the First Emperor’s China and the West before the formal opening of the Silk Road. This is far earlier than we formerly thought.’
The figures could have been influenced by Greek sculptors, who may have visited the site to train the locals
The Terracotta Army is a form of funerary art buried with the First Emperor in 210 to 209 BC and whose purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife.
Arguably the most famous archaeological site in the world, it was discovered by chance by villagers in 1974, and excavation has been on-going at the site since that date.
An extraordinary feat of mass-production, each figure was given an individual personality although they were not intended to be portraits.
The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals.
Current estimates are that there were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which are still buried.
Since 1998, figures of terracotta acrobats, bureaucrats, musicians and bronze birds have been discovered on site.
They were designed to entertain the Emperor in his afterlife and they are of crucial importance to our understanding of his attempts to control the world even in death.