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Awarded ‘50 Tours of a Lifetime’ by National Geographic Traveler Magazine.
In the 1970's, workers digging outside of the Chinese city of Xi'an, China found one of the most stunning archeological discoveries in the world. They uncovered one of the legendary terra-cotta warriors. Since that moment, archeologists have estimated that there may be 8,000 of the unique stone warriors entombed and hidden for over 2,200 years. These mystifying sculptures are some of the most mesmerizing artifacts of China's ancient past and are a stunning sight for millions of tourists every year.
Thousands of warriors, yet no two are identical
One can only imagine how long it must have taken to create the enormous amount of soldiers - of which some 6,000 have been uncovered - but examination has shown that an ancient molding process and assembly line style production may have streamlined the effort. However, observers are quick to realize that no two soldiers are alike, as details have been made to alter the faces of each soldier, giving them all a unique appearance. Of the thousands of arches, horse riders and soldiers, none of them are identical.
A sea of intact weaponry
Despite thousands of years of entombment, the bronze weaponry of the army remains miraculously well intact. Roughly 40,000 bronze crossbows, arrowheads, battle axes and spears have survived the test of time thanks to a relatively modern chrome plating process. The Chinese technique must have been utilized centuries ago, yet the same process was first introduced by Germans in 1937.
An ancient tomb that cannot be excavated
Decades after its discovery, the tomb of Emperor Qin - the ancient leader whom the terra-cotta soldiers were meant to protect in the afterlife - remains buried. Archeologists and historians speculate that only 1 percent of the tomb has been excavated. Complications with safely excavating the site without damaging the artifacts first halted the work to uncover the tomb.
For travelers eager to uncover the mysteries of the ancient past, the terra cotta army of China is only the beginning. For sculptures and artifacts thousands of years older than even the great clay army, tourists should venture to the timeworn sands of Egypt. Here, stunningly preserved mummies and towering archaic structures amaze thousands every day, and many of the mysteries surrounding the curious past remain unsolved.
As your small motorboat slides onto the sandy bank of a deserted beach and your attentive guides set up a gourmet seaside picnic, all that’s left to do is allow the turquoise waters of this remote paradise wash away your stresses.
(Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto)
Embark on this exploration of Japan's highlights, with the support of local guides, comfortable train transportation, and enough down time to truly get lost in the land of the rising sun.
(Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh City)
As the sun sets over the vast temple network of Angkor Wat, find yourself a bend in the ancient maze and soak up all the serene magic of this spiritual land.
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