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'Giants' appearing in the west
Nickel translated ancient Chinese records that tell a tale of 12 giant statues, clad in "foreign robes" that "appeared" in Lintao in what was the westernmost part of China...
The Terracotta Warriors, along with other life-size sculptures built for the First Emperor of China, were inspired by Greek art, new research indicates.
About 8,000 Terracotta Warriors, which are life-size statues of infantryman, cavalry, archers, charioteers and generals, were buried in three pits less than a mile to the northeast of the mausoleum of Qin Shi Huangdi, the first emperor. He unified the country through conquest more than 2,200 years ago. Pits containing sculptures of acrobats, strongmen, dancers and civil servants have also been found near the mausoleum.
Now, new research points to ancient Greek sculpture as the inspiration for the emperor's afterlife army. [See Photos of the Terracotta Warriors & Greek Art]
"It is perfectly possible and actually likely that the sculptures of the First Emperor are the result of early contact between Greece and China," writes Lukas Nickel, a reader with the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, in the most recent edition of the journal Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. (A reader is a position comparable to an associate or full professor in the American system.)
Nickel's evidence includes newly translated ancient records that tell a fantastic tale of giant statues that "appeared" in the far west, inspiring the first emperor of China to duplicate them in front of his palace. This story offers evidence of early contact between China and the West, contacts that Nickel says inspired the First Emperor (which is what Qin Shi Huangdi called himself) to not only duplicate the 12 giant statues but to build the massive Terracotta Army along with other life-size sculptures.
A recent article is examining the possibility that a contingent of soldiers from the Mediterranean fought at the Battle of Talas River in 36 BC, but instead of being Roman forces, new research suggests they may have been descendants of the armies of Alexander the Great.
Christopher A. Matthew’s proposes this idea in his article, “Greek Hoplite in an Ancient Chinese Siege”, which appears in the latest issue of Journal of Asian History. It re-examines a theory put forward more than 70 years ago by Homer H. Dubs, in which the historian believed that Roman legionaries were serving as mercenaries in a city besieged by Han Chinese nearly 2,000 miles to the east of Roman territory. When the city fell, these men were captured and take east and eventually settled in a town on the fringes to the Han Empire.