Craftsmen used local materials and signature ceramic recipes to shape the warriors and their entourage
China’s first emperor broke the mold when he had himself buried with a terra-cotta army. Now insight into the careful crafting of those soldiers is coming from the clays used to build them. Custom clay pastes were mixed at a clay-making center and then distributed to specialized workshops that cranked out thousands of the life-size figures, new research suggests.
Roughly 700,000 craftsmen and laborers built Emperor Qin Shihuang’s palatial mausoleum in east-central China between 247 B.C. and 210 B.C. A portion of those workers gathered clay from nearby deposits and prepared it in at least three forms, researchers propose in the August Antiquity. On-site or nearby workshops used different signature clay recipes for terra-cotta warriors,