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Chinese Terra Cotta Warriors Homeward Bound

Terra Cotta WarriorsFor the past year, I’ve had the honor – and yes, the occasional headache – of being on the UPS project team responsible for transporting a priceless exhibit of 2,200-year-old Chinese terra cotta warriors, horses and other artifacts in a coast-to-coast tour. This week, after hundreds of thousands of people viewed the exhibit, the life-size terra cotta warriors returned home to China.

These guys went home the same way they arrived – packed in 42 specially-constructed crates for movement in a UPS 747-400. The nose of the massive air freighter, the newest in our air fleet, rises to allow the loading of large cargo through the front. While on the ground, the warriors rode in comfort aboard air-ride, temperature-controlled trailers.

As you can imagine, there’s a lot to worry about when moving priceless works of art cross country. One of the biggest concerns, of course, is security. UPS worked closely with each museum’s security staff and local law enforcement on every leg of this amazing journey.

We flew the warriors from Shanghai to Anchorage last year, then on to our Ontario, Calif., air hub where workers loaded them on two UPS Freight trucks for the trip to the exhibit’s first stop at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, Calif. The exhibit left California for my hometown, Atlanta, before stopping in Houston and then at its final destination – the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C.

During planning calls, we had representatives from virtually all parts of our organization. The level of partnership I saw between various business units at UPS really made me proud to be a part of the team. This project was successful due to the efforts and teamwork of so many people working together across the entire company.

While in Atlanta, I got the chance to see the warriors up close and personal. Truly amazing! More than 8,000 of the terra cotta warriors and horses were buried with Emperor Qin in 210-209 BC. Chinese farmers digging a well in 1974 near Xi’an in China’s Shaanxi province discovered the terra cotta army still guarding the emperor’s tomb.

While it’s not as good as seeing them face-to-face, this video gives you a close look at these amazing pieces of sculpture.

Category: Logistics
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