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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 February 2007, 15:41 GMT
Terracotta Army comes to Britain
The Terracotta Army
Thousands of life-size figures have been found
China's famed Terracotta Army is to star in an exhibition about its first emperor at the British Museum.

About 20 life-size figures from the tomb of Emperor Qin Shihuangdi are being loaned for the event.

The tomb, dating from 210BC, contains several thousand individually modelled figures intended to protect the emperor in the afterlife.

The museum's Reading Room is undergoing a 1.5m conversion to host the event, which opens in September.

Artistic feat

The army, discovered by chance in 1974, forms part of an underground complex stretching over hundreds of acres.

Along with the soldiers, there are chariots, officials, acrobats and even animals. The project is thought to have taken hundreds of thousands of workers nearly 40 years to complete.

The tomb of the Emperor Qin Shihuangdi itself, believed to have been decked with precious metals and pearls, has never been excavated.

British Museum director Neil MacGregor said: "To make one of these would be a feat of artistry. To make thousands is a feat of administration.

"That administration shapes the China we know today."

The decision to lend the warriors to the British Museum follows an agreement with the National Museum of China and the sending of four British Museum touring exhibitions to China.

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