National Geographic : 1996 Oct
Sf we find one piece that fits in a day-that's a lucky Lday," says Song Yun (above, at left), who has worked for 19 years mending broken soldiers. A company of partly assem bled statues stands behind him as he tests a missing part with co-workers in Pit 1. If a perfect fit cannot be achieved, the piece goes back into inventory. Eight skilled workers toil daily trying to make the right connections. A soldier's face gazes wistfully sky ward in a heap of crumpled comrades (opposite). To aid assembly, pieces are coded. Marks indi cate where the item was found and to which statue it might belong. Thou sands of fragments awaiting connective surgery have lain for years in long piles at the western end of the pit. Bur ied beneath them, more statues await resurrection. Each soldier's face is distinc tive, and some experts think that real soldiers served as models. "Because each statue has its own personality," says an archaeologist, "we have spe cial feelings for all of them." In the museum's computer center a monitor displays a pho tograph and detailed sketch of the back and side of an armored soldier (bottom). An exhaustive database is being compiled on all statues, bronzes, and other artifacts found in the pits. Their images, descriptions, and con servation history will be stored for future reference. The computer center is also working toward production of a CD-ROM for tourists and another for scholars. Inspired by the film JurassicPark, one engineer would like to develop a program that would manage artifacts, buildings, and grounds. The system would be particularly impor tant in any future excavation of Qin Shi Huang's tomb. "Instead of keep ing track of dino saurs," says He Fan, a technician at the computer center, "we will keep track of our warriors."