Greeks may have helped with the most famous Chinese sculptures ever made – the 8,000 warriors of the Terracotta Army- who guard the mausoleum of the First Emperor and are likely to have been made under the direction of a European sculptor who worked with locals at the site and took influence from Ancient Greece.
Archaeologists and historians working on the warriors say they now believe the figures’ strong lifelike appearance could have been influenced by the arrival in China of ancient Greek sculptures, and are beginning to believe that Greek sculptors made their way to the Asian region to teach their designs.
The discoveries have made worldwide headlines over the last few days and some are claiming this finding as “more important than anything in the last 40 years,” even more so than the discovery of the Terracotta Army itself in comparison- as they are believed to be the first documented contact between Western and Chinese civilisations ever recorded.
These findings were discovered during excavations across the site by Mausoleum archaeologists and have now been documented by the National Geographic Channel and BBC.
Key findings include evidence that treasures in the tomb of the First Emperor were created with the help of the West, with inspiration from the statues of Ancient Greece.
“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,” says Dr Li Xiuzhen, Senior Archaeologist at the Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum.
“We now think the Terracotta Army, the acrobats and the bronze sculptures found on site, have been inspired by ancient Greek sculptures and art.”
Lukas Nickel, chair of Asian art history at Vienna University, and one of the teams working on the history of the figures said: “I imagine that a Greek sculptor may have been at the site to train the locals.”
The new discoveries will be outlined in a documentary, The Greatest Tomb on Earth, jointly made by the BBC and National Geographic, which will be shown on BBC Two on Sunday, 16 October and hosted by Dan Snow, Dr Alice Roberts and Dr Albert Lin.
*Images by O. LOUIS MAZZATENTA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE
*Source- National Geographic- national geographic.com