Professor Anna Wagner
Riace Warriors compared to the Terracotta Army
In Riace Marina, Italy two bronze statues were found in the Mediterranean Sea on August 16, 1972. These two statues do not have a particular name other than “Statue A” and “Statue B”, but they are called the Riace Warriors. The statues are dated from 460-450 B.C.E. and stand taller than six feet. In Lintong, Qin dynasty, China, present day Lintong, Xi’an, Shaanxi, China there is six thousand life size terracotta soldiers that are guarding the first Emperor buried under an immense mound and dated from 136-85 BCE. This artwork(s) are called the Terracotta Army by popular decision. Each statue is made of clay and the average height is around five feet and eleven inches. I will be stating the ways they were made and preserved by the modern twentieth century and comparing them through their creators’ culture and accessible materials of that time period.
When talking about the Riace warriors, they were found in the sea near Italy but there was “no evidence of a wreck could be found and therefore no external data evidence data could lead to a firm chronology” (Ridgway 2005). It is portrayed that they were fully equipped with Greek armor. Including a spear, sword, shield, a helmet that only shows the eyes and mouth of the warrior and chest plate that was most likely made of iron or bronze in this time period. Both are very different in size and structure while also similar in height, body structure, and key facial features. These two warriors are debated to be “produced from a single basic model, which was then altered with direct modifications to the wax casting models during an intermediate stage of their manufacture” (Ridgway 2005). Which also, means there could be more than two Riace Warriors in comparison to the Terracotta Army which consist of six thousand Chinese soldiers.
Herbert Hoffmann and Nigel Konstam go into detail in how they were made, sculpted, and melted down and cooled while also mentioning how similar the Riace Warriors looked. Being “nearly two meters in height statue A being one hundred and ninety eight centimeters and statue B being one hundred and ninety six centimeters in height” (Hoffmann & Konstam, 2002). These warriors were created weighing in between four hundred and forty pounds and six hundred pounds of bronze, iron and other types of metal. The mold was placed in a large kiln with high temperatures averaging at one thousand four hundred and seventy two degrees and “cast in a single pouring … anything other than a continuous pouring would most certainly leave, cold joints”. Cold joints in artwork are when a plane of weakness is in clay or metal based material, or commonly called a bubble is caused by an interruption or delay, this term is still used today in concrete construction and in larger scale ceramic pieces.
These two warriors are very beautiful in this was probably the first time experimenting with molds and casting in between 460-450 B.C.E. Comparing this with the Terracotta Army, dated in 136-85 B.C.E., there was time to perfect and perform the casting and molding method which made six thousand life sized warriors. Yet, there are a lot of contrast between the Terracotta Army and Riace Warriors such as, the type of material used, the time period of when they were made, the height, weight, and detail in it took to make each warrior and also of casting and molding the warriors.
With creating the Terracotta Army most of the molds that were used were also different in size and shape with the kilns being at different temperatures to form different looking people, “detailed measurements of the approx. 220 crossbow triggers has allowed the identification of a number of subtle but undeniably different subgroups that suggest the existence of different casting molds and/or production units… the clustered patterns of trigger subgroups in the pit reflect the existence of different workshops producing marginally different crossbow triggers” (Marcos, 2014). With this article, it focuses more on the chemical makeup and construction of the bows that were used in the terracotta army. These architectural scientist gave, “analytical priority to the 278 bundles containing ninety arrows or more. All of these were examined macroscopically and photographed” (Marcos, 2014). Out of the grouping, sampling, and random selection of these warriors arrows they saw “formal differences between bundles and the relative internal consistency in the appearance of the tangs from each bundle”, therefore, the materials used in each bundle were different from the soldiers themselves, their weapons were made out of bronze (Marcos, 2014). Also the kiln they were dried in were at different temperatures due to the different amount of shrinkage of the arrows.
For a general description and class division for the different miniature figurines are when “the early tall wooden figurines are strongly reminiscent of symbolic guards or servants. The slightly clumsily modelled and painted tiny pottery miniatures depict scenes of everyday life: classifying the entertainment and livestock workers”. For the first five hundred years the figures of Chinese culture “lacquered wooden human figures were largely restricted to high-ranking Chu tombs because they represented lower class Chinese people, while zoomorphic figurines, apart from the occasional riding horses, and were usually absent. This southern Chinese tradition seems to be without direct precedents when judged from material, stylistic and thematic perspectives” (Selbitschka, 2015).
For the end results of both art pieces, they were very beautiful and in my opinion, came out successfully through the new invention of mass cast molding and production in the Mesopotamian era (three thousand two hundred B.C.E.), (History of Metal Casting). Even though they were during different time periods, the method of cast molding that was used to create the Riace Warriors (the Early Classical period) was similarly used to make the Terracotta Army (Early Medieval period). Yet, throughout the years, while the Riace Warriors were one of the first casting experiments for the Greeks, The Terracotta Army was not for the Chinese. The Chinese invent sand molding and clay molding before attempting the iron and bronze molding cast for the Terracotta Army. Also with the results of the casting being similar they were very different as well because the Riace Warrors stayed relatively the same size when coming out of the mold. The Terracotta Army was not the same, some of the warriors expanded and became bigger after the cooling process while some restively shrank in size after the cooling process. This also affected all their weapons and armor when putting the warriors together. Even though that was a little mishap that happened during the making of these artworks they still represent a big part of art history as a whole.
Hoffmann, Herbert and Nigel Konstam. “Casting the Riace Bronzes: Modern Assumptions and Ancient Facts.” Oxford Journal of Archaeology, vol. 21, no. 2, May 2002, p. 153. EBSCOhost, azwestern.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=6604876&site=eds-live.
Konstam, Nigel and Herbert Hoffman. “CASTING the RIACE BRONZES (2): A SCULPTOR’s DISCOVERY.” Oxford Journal of Archaeology, vol. 23, no. 4, Nov. 2004, pp. 397-402. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1111/j.1468-0092.2004.00217.x.
Marcos, Martinón-Torres, et al. “Forty Thousand Arms for a Single Emperor: From Chemical Data to the Labor Organization behind the Bronze Arrows of the Terracotta Army.” Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, no. 3, 2014, p. 534. EBSCOhost, azwestern.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsjsr&AN=edsjsr.43654180&site=eds-live.
Metal Technologies. “History of Metal Casting.”
Ridgway, Brunilde Sismondo. “The Study of Greek Sculpture in the Twenty-First Century.” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, vol. 149, no. 1, 2005, pp. 63–71. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/4598909.
Selbitschka, Armin. “Miniature Tomb Figurines and Models in Pre-Imperial and Early Imperial China: Origins, Development and Significance.” World Archaeology, vol. 47, no. 1, Mar. 2015, pp. 20-44. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/00438243.2014.991801.
“The Terracotta Army: China’s First Emperor and the Birth of a Nation.” Contemporary Review, no. 1690, 2008, p. 395. EBSCOhost, azwestern.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsglr&AN=edsgcl.189797545&site=eds-live.