I tiny break from answering questions today because an article titled 'Terracotta Warriors inspired by Ancient Greek Art' caught my eye. If this is true--and right now it's certainly a theory that holds some water, then consider my mind blown, even though the thought isn't preposterous to entertain to begin with.

For those of you unfamiliar with the statues; the Terracotta Army is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. They were burried with the emperor upon his death in 210–209 BC to safeguard him in the afterlife.

The figures were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in the Lintong District in the Shaanxi province. They vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. Found in three long pits near the tomb of the emperor, the collection includes warriors, chariots and horses. Current estimates are that there were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which are still buried in the pits near by Qin Shi Huang's mausoleum. Other terracotta non-military figures were also found in other pits and they include officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians.

"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. According to the Archaeology News Network,

"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."

It foes on to say that:

"Before the First Emperor's time, life-size sculptures were not built in China, and Nickel argues the idea to build so many of them, so suddenly, came from kingdoms in Asia that had been created and influenced by Alexander the Great's campaigns."

The entire article is a very interesting read and I greatly encourage you to take a few minutes to read it. It's not odd to consider the possibilities of cross-contamination between these two great cultures. In the time of ancient Hellas, the Chinese empire was already blooming and written historical records of the ancient Chinese empire date back to at least 1700 BC. It was a strong culture, and would have been considered utterly barbaric by the ancient Hellenes, that said, examples like these show there could have been a lot more contact between the two than might have been assumed prior. Plus, it's rather awesome that one of China's greatest cultural treasures has Hellenic origins.

What do you think of this theory? Is your mind blown like mine?

Image credit: Wikipedia Commons