Archaeologists believe that the appearance of the Terracotta Warriors in the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China was inspired by ancient Greeks, the BBC reported on Tuesday.
Ancient Greeks were even thought to have directly trained local artisans of the Qin Empire (221-206 BC). The latest finding broke the theory that the first direct contact between China and the west was through Marco Polo in the 13th century.
"There is evidence that the earliest contacts between China and Europe was made before the opening of the ancient ’Silk Road’. It is much earlier than what the current record shows," said Li Xiuzhen, renowned archaeologist in the Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s Mausoleum Site Museum.
The Terracotta Warriors in the tomb of Qin Shi Huang were discovered accidentally by a farmer in Lintong County, northwest China’s Shannxi province in 1974.
There was no tradition of building human statues as large as what is now known as the Terracotta Army before the Qin Empire, and a more reliable explanation of the phenomenon is that it is the result of foreign influence, according to Li.
The newly found "jumping and rolling" acrobat terracotta figures in Qin Shi Huang’s tomb showed different artistic styles from the others, which could be evidence of the foreign influence theory, Lukas Nickel, professor of University of Vienna noted.