Arthur Lubow writes about art and culture for Smithsonian, Inc. and the New York Times Magazine, where he is a contributing writer.
What drew you to this story? Can you describe its genesis?
I had wanted to see the terracotta army ever since I heard of its existence. Once I learned that a few advance scouts would be touring this country, I thought that would be my invitation to see the whole regiment.
What was it like seeing the terracotta soldiers in person? What surprised you the most about them?
The scale of the display is surprising, even if you have seen photographs. The numbers make you feel you are truly facing an army. It is also surprising to see how large an area is being excavated, and how much excavation remains to be done.
What was your favorite moment during reporting?
My favorite moment was going to the pit where they are excavating the stone armor and holding a piece of it in my fingers: a small, smooth piece of limestone that had been chiseled and planed more than two thousand years ago.
What do you hope people take away from your story?
To me the main point of the story is to get readers to consider how people's view of the First Emperor has shifted over time, depending on the vantage point of the onlooker. Of course, new evidence comes to light and revises people's understanding. But even more, I believe, people come to the information from a different place and reshuffle the facts accordingly.