Terracotta Army makers beat Toyota by 2,200 years

 

Clifford Coonan
Sunday 04 November 2012 23:40
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The Terracotta Army discovered in 1974 near Xi’an
The Terracotta Army discovered in 1974 near Xi’an

The craftsmen who armed the Terracotta Army in northern China 2,200 years ago may have developed a pioneering production system similar to the one used by the car maker Toyota.

The Terracotta Army, discovered in 1974 near Xi'an, is a huge collection of sculpted warriors, complete with chariots and horses, which it is believed were built to guard Emperor Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife.

A team from University College London (UCL) believes they were forerunners of the production process now known as "Toyotism", which involves small workshops of skilled engineers who can build any model required, rather than the standard mass-production line.

Dr Marcos Martinon-Torres, of UCL, said: "We now believe the craftsmen who made them also constructed the swords and other equipment the soldiers carry, and that a cellular production system was also employed for the warriors themselves."

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