Terracotta warrior team to receive Asturias prize

08:25, October 21, 2010      

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The archaeological team excavating the terracotta warriors at Xi'an, in northwest China, will receive the Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences in the Spanish city of Oviedo Friday.

The army of more than 7,000 life-sized terracotta figures of warriors and horses, first discovered in 1974, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.

The army forms part of the mausoleum of Qinshihuang, the Emperor, who unified China and founded the Qin Dynasty (221 BC-206 BC).

One of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century, it offers a rich source of information about Chinese civilization and has had a major impact on research into sculpture, architecture and society during that period.

The Director of the Xi'an excavations, Xu Weihong, is currently in Oviedo, where he, along with Cao Wei and Zhang Weixing, two other members of the team, will receive the award.

"(The award) is very important (for China); it is the most important discovery in China in recent decades, and we have worked hard," Xu told a press conference.

"This is a discovery without precedent in China and we have so far not found any full-size armies from subsequent dynasties."

Xu nevertheless believes other armies could be discovered.

"We know that the tradition of burying armies when an Emperor died began in the Qin Dynasty, so we are not ruling out finding others," he said.

The director expressed his gratitude at being chosen for the Prince of Asturias Award, which rewards scientific, technical, cultural, social and humanistic work performed by individuals, groups or institutions internationally.

"This also helps people get to know the work of the archaeologists. Thousands of people come to Xi'an and see how we work," Xu said.

"We are talking about an excavation of three pits and we have only opened one seventh of it all. The second is about 6,000 square meters and we have not done anything yet, while we are finishing work in the third pit," he said.

Source: Xinhua


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