Remembering Zhao Kangmin, discoverer of the Terracotta Army

The Terracotta Warrior statues at Troy University's Janice Hawkins Cultural Arts Park.

The Terracotta Warrior statues at Troy University's Janice Hawkins Cultural Arts Park.

The Chinese archeologist who discovered the famous Terracotta Army passed away last month, leaving behind a legacy that left its mark around the world, including at the Troy Campus.

Zhao Kangmin was a self-taught archaeologist and lover of history who at 24 became curator of the Lintong Museum in Shannxi province. It was on an afternoon in April 1974 when Zhao was asked to come inspect some relics found in a nearby wheat field that he would make the discovery that would become the crowning achievement of his career—the remnants of an ancient terracotta army disturbed from their long slumber by farmers.

Today the Terracotta Army, a collection of more than 8,000 soldiers guarding the burial place of China’s first emperor, is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the museum constructed there has been visited by millions of tourists from around the world.

The warriors have also become an iconic part of Troy University’s landscape. Two hundred replica terracotta warriors are on display inside the Janice Hawkins Cultural Arts Park, created by artist Huo Bhao Zhu. The warriors celebrate TROY’s reputation as “Alabama’s International University,” in particular the University’s long association with partner schools in China through the 1-2-1 program. Recently, Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor, travelled to China to award degrees to students at the 15th 1-2-1 commencement ceremony, a visit which also included a gathering of more than 100 of TROY’s Chinese alumni and friends.

Zhao Kangmin died on May 16 at age 81. Read more about his life and achievements in The Economist.