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Ancient Greek sculpture inspiration for China's Terracotta Warriors, researchers say

Archaeologists studying the Terracotta Warriors say that inspiration for the famed army built to guard the tomb of China’s first emperor near today’s Xian may have come from Ancient Greece, the BBC reports.

Ancient Greek sculpture inspiration for China's Terracotta Warriors, researchers say
The Terracotta Army discovered in 1974 near Xi’an 
[Credit: Getty Images]
According to the report, experts believe that the 8,000 statues may have been crafted under the guidance of ancient Greek sculptors in 3rd Century BC.

Their findings suggest that western contact with China began long before European explorer Marco Polo arrived in China.

“We now have evidence that close contact existed between the First Emperor's China and the West before the formal opening of the Silk Road. This is far earlier than we formerly thought,” senior archaeologist Li Xiuzhen, from the Emperor Qin Shi Huang's Mausoleum Site Museum was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, a separate study cited by the BBC shows that European-specific mitochondrial DNA was found in China's westernmost Xinjiang Province, indicating that Westerners traveled, settled and died in the area before and during the time of the First Emperor.

That would be 1,500 years earlier than commonly held.

A documentary on the findings will be broadcast on the National Geographic Channel and the BBC.

Source: Kathimerini [October 12, 2016]

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  1. Wasn't this in approximately the same period as the Greco-Bactrians? The city of Alexandria Eschate was directly at China's back door, so the Chinese would not have had to go far to find Greek or Greek-influenced artists, and in fact doubtlessly had some economic and diplomatic ties with the Greco-Bactrians in Sogdiana and Bactria. Certainly they could have had direct contact with Greece or points much closer to Greece, but there is no necessity for them to have gone so far in quest of Greek-influenced artisans.

  2. The Chinese people already had an amazing culture and no need to seek out even one Western explorer to guide their artists to "help them" with anything. This idea reeks of hubris.

    1. While I agree that China at the time of the making of the terracotta sculptures had an "amazing culture," the suggestion that they were made or influenced by Greek sculptors was not made by Westerners, but by Chinese archeologists, led by senior archaeologist Li Xiuzhen, who would seem to have no incentive to attribute Greek influence to their crafting outside of his honest, expert, opinion after aesthetic analysis. How does his analysis "reek of hubris?"


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