Conservation & Preservation

Terracotta warriors attacked by mould

Tourism is causing a conservation nightmare

The 2,000-year-old terracotta army discovered in the tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi, is under threat from humidity caused by tourists. According to environmental experts quoted in the China Daily newspaper in March, the army of some 7,000 warriors is being damaged by nine different kinds of mould which thrive in the raised temperatures caused by tourists’ breath. The figures were buried in an underground mausoleum near the northern city of Xi’an in the third century BC to protect the tomb of the emperor. They were in near perfect condition when they were discovered in 1974, but today they attract thousands of daily visitors.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Imperial warriors attacked by mould'

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 91 April 1999