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The Terracotta Army was buried with the Emperor of Qin (Qin Shi Huangdi) in 210-209 BC (his reign over Qin was from 247 BC to 221 BC and over unified China from 221 BC to his death in 210 BC). Their purpose was to help rule another empire with Shi Huangdi in the afterlife. Consequently, they are also sometimes referred to as "Qin's Armies".
The Terracotta Army was discovered in March 1974 by local farmers drilling a water well to the east of Mount Lishan. In addition to the warriors, an entire man made necropolis for the emperor has been excavated.
Construction of this mausoleum began in 246 BC and is believed to have taken 700,000 workers and craftsmen 38 years to complete. Qin Shi Huangdi was interred inside the tomb complex upon his death in 210 BC.