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Monday, 18 September, 2000, 11:52 GMT 12:52 UK
Mould threat to China's terracotta army

Chinese archaeologists have called in a Belgian pharmaceutical company to try to save one of the world's most famous antiquities -- the terracotta army -- from destruction.

After surviving for more than two-thousand years buried underground the life-sized terracotta soldiers and horses of the first Chinese emperor are in danger of crumbling away because of mould.

Officials say that more than a thousand of the eight-thousand models which were discovered in 1976 in the tomb of the Emperor Qin Shihuang near the northern Chinese city if Xian have begun to go mouldy.

The Belgian company is offering to develop a chemical compound to protect the statues, and they hope to have it ready by next year.They say the best they can hope is that it will keep the fungi under control.

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