China’s terracotta army invades London

  • 14 September 2007

The 2,200 year-old terracotta army has invaded London’s British Museum, breaking all previous records for advance sales with more than 150,000 tickets already bought.

The excitement caused by the life-sized figures, unearthed in 1974 and hailed as one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th Century, is reminiscent of Tutankhamen’s visit 35 years ago.

Created by the first Qin Dynasty ruler Shihuangdi, the army was designed to protect the emperor in the afterlife – each statue is so detailed it is possible to tell which part of China each soldier came from.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown was among the very first to see the exhibition, witnessing the clay foot soldiers, archers, horses and acrobats in a preview show.

Curator of the exhibition, Hiromi Kinoshita, said that visitors would be surprised by the artefacts when its London show was first announced.

“What many people may not realise is that excavations have continued, and there are new, recent discoveries of fabulous life-sized terracotta acrobats, civil officials, bronze birds and of stone arms.

“It’s these new discoveries that we would like to concentrate on.”

The First Emperor: China’s Terracotta Army is on show at the British Museum until April next year.

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