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Last Updated: Monday, 3 July 2006, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
Terracotta army could invade UK
Terracotta warriors
The life-sized army is often called the Eighth Wonder of the World
The British Museum is in negotiations to stage the largest exhibition of China's famed terracotta warriors ever seen outside their native country.

The London museum hopes to host the warriors towards the end of next year.

Two British Museum exhibitions are now on loan to China, as part of an ongoing collaboration with the country.

In 1974 in northern Shaanxi province, some 8,000 statues of warriors and horses were found underground near the tomb of first emperor Qin Shihuang.

Peasants digging a well made the original discovery that led to one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th Century.

Qin, who created the first unified Chinese empire around 220 BC, is regarded as one of the country's most ruthless rulers.

An exhibition of Assyrian artefacts from the British Museum has just opened in Shanghai.

British Museum director Neil MacGregor took part in talks about the possible loan of the terracotta statues on a visit to attend the opening.

"We are certainly hopeful that it will go ahead," said a British Museum spokeswoman.

A Treasure of the World's Cultures exhibition, assembled by the British Museum for its 250th anniversary in 2003, was displayed in Beijing earlier this year and will be shown in Taipei from December.

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