Page last updated at 15:12 GMT, Wednesday, 12 May 2010 16:12 UK

China unearths 114 new Terracotta Warriors

Terracotta Warriors in Xian, China
The warriors were built to protect the emperor after his death

Archaeologists in China have unearthed 114 new terracotta warriors at the vast Qin dynasty tomb complex near Xian in Shaanxi province, state media reports.

The statues, many of which were found in pieces, were brightly coloured and lying alongside pots, weapons and other items, said China Daily.

Research teams also found evidence of burn marks on the clay, proof that the pit had at some point been set on fire.

More than 8,000 of the statues, made in 221BC, have already been unearthed.

Xu Weihong, head of the research team, told China Daily the warriors had been found during the third excavation of the largest of the three pits at the tomb complex. The excavations began in June last year.

"We were pleasantly surprised to find rich colours on the Terracotta Warriors," he said.

"It was hard work to restore the clay warriors as they were broken into pieces. It took us at least 10 days to restore one."

Blaze evidence

Archaeologists say all the warriors would originally have been brightly decorated but that 2,000 years underground has worn away the paint.

Liu Zhanchang, director of the Museum of Qin Shihuang Terracotta Warriors and Horses, said the burn marks found were proof that the pit had been set on fire.

It was already thought that the mausoleum was set on fire by a rebel leader soon after its construction, although much of the contents survived.

The mausoleum was built for Emperor Qin Shihuang, considered the first emperor of China and the individually decorated warriors were intended to protect him in death.

The complex was rediscovered by chance in 1974 by villagers, and excavation has continued ever since.

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