The First Emperor's Terracotta Army recruited outside China

Acrobats from Burma, workers from Central or West Asia, and a mausoleum design inspired by work in the Middle East – the Mausoleum of China’s First Emperor was a cosmopolitan place says Dr. Duan Qingbo, the man in charge of excavating it.



The mausoleum was created about 2,200 year ago and served as a tomb for Qin Shi Huang – the first emperor of China. While the emperor’s tomb is largely unexcavated, archaeologists have found thousands of life-size terracotta figures nearby. It’s believed that this army was created to serve the emperor in the afterlife.



Dr. Duan discussed the cosmopolitan nature of the complex at a lecture at Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, which is currently hosting a Terracotta Warriors exhibition. He doesn’t speak English so his words were translated by Dr. Chen Shen, museum curator and Chinese archaeology expert.



Traditionally scholars have marked the 2nd century BC as the starting point of China’s relationship with the west. The Silk Road was opened for trade at that time, opening up what would become a booming trade.



“Now the evidence shows that the cultural exchange or influence from the western world begins as early as the time of the First Emperor,” said Dr. Duan. In fact the emperor’s “burial structure is probably inferenced from west.”



The First Emperor’s Mausoleum uses a step up structure that “allows the soul to escalate to the top.” Duan pointed out that the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus in Turkey is quite similar, gradually rising up in levels and was built only 100 years before the First Emperor’s life.



“The structure of this tomb mound is very similar to what we find inside the First Emperor’s tomb mound,” said Duan. Also, “on top of this structure (at Halicarnassus) there’s a chariot driven by four horses, we all know that (at) the First Emperor’s tomb complex there also is a chariot with four horses,” he said.



A few years ago Dr. Duan’s team unearthed 120 skeletons of workers who were buried near the Mausoleum. Among the finds were three skulls that were definitely not Chinese. “There’s three skulls that are different from the rest of them which represents the Mongolian type of people,” he said through a translator. The “nose protrude (is) very extensive.”



The first time DNA tests were performed they indicated that the individuals were from “west Eurasia probably like a white people,” however the second DNA test showed they were more similar to Mongolian.



Duan has an idea as what these workers might have been used for. His team discovered that the Terracotta Warriors pits used an interlocking rectangular brick pattern that had not been used in China before the time of the First Emperor. “This kind of bricks has never been found in China, it was the first time used in the Terracotta Warrior pits,” he said. “The style used in the Terracotta Army pits of these rectangular brick (is) probably also inference from West Asia.”



This means that these foreigners may have served as “skilled labour” bringing knowledge of this technology from Central or West Asia – allowing the First Emperor’s officials to implement it.



Another discovery that adds weight to Dr. Duan’s theory is a pit of terracotta entertainers, including strongmen, wrestlers and acrobats.



The acrobats were created in a lifelike way – with their carving conveying a sense of movement. One example, that is now on display in Toronto, has an index finger pointing up, indicating that the figure is trying to perform a balancing act.



Dr. Duan believes that the acrobats the terracotta figures are modelled on, were probably not from China. “According to the way they perform we speculate they are not indigenous to central China, but probably come from the south – probably the Burma area.” This is an idea that – if proven true – will add another ethnic layer to what appears to have already been an ancient cosmopolitan project.

What's inside Qin Shi Huang's tomb?

Battle strategies of the Qin

10 most important archaeology finds in China... ever

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Life and Style
life
Sport
Christian Benteke of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the winner for Aston Villa
football
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
News
Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People In Media Celebration at The Four Seasons Restaurant on April 16, 2014 in New York City
media It is the second time he and the channel have clarified statements
News
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

    £16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

    £9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

    Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

    £15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn