Friday, October 14, 2016

Terracotta Warriors Show Greek Influence

A new examination of the famous terracotta warriors found near the tomb of the first Chinese emperor has revealed that the design of the statues may have been influenced by Greek sculptures of the same period. This is a fascinating archaeological find, because it means that the transmission of ideas between China and the Middle East happened much earlier than experts previously believed.

Farmers first discovered the 8,000 terracotta figures buried less than a mile from the tomb of China's first emperor Qin Shi Huang in 1974. However there was no tradition of building life-sized human statues in China before the tomb was created. Earlier statues were simple figurines about 20cm (7.9ins) in height.

To explain how such an enormous change in skill and style could have happened, Dr Xiuzhen believes that influences must have come from outside China. "We now think the Terracotta Army, the Acrobats and the bronze sculptures found on site have been inspired by ancient Greek sculptures and art," she said.

Prof Lukas Nickel from the University of Vienna says statues of circus acrobats recently found at the First Emperor's tomb support this theory. He believes the First Emperor was influenced by the arrival of Greek statues in Central Asia in the century following Alexander the Great, who died in 323BC.

Alexander the Great extended the Greek empire all the way to the Himalayan mountains and into modern-day Pakistan. His troops attempted to invade India but turned back, and never made it all the way into China. Still, if Greek artisans influenced the terracotta warriors, it suggests that trade between China and central Asia was more active than previously thought during the period.

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