Extensive research conducted in Xinjiang Province, China, has birthed this new understanding of the "Western" world andits role in ancient China. Previously, it was believed that the Italian explorer, Marco Polo, was the first "Western" man to reach China in 1275. The new research suggests that ancient Greeks had reached China 1,500 years before Marco Polo.
There was mitochondrial DNA found in Xinjiang Province that is dated near the ThirdCentury B.C.E. The DNA is believed to be European specific. This would mean that Greeks had traveled to and died in China approximately between 259 and 210 B.C.E., before the Common Era and atthe time of the first Emperor of China.
The Terra Cotta army, which numbers 8,000 statues, stands guard around the first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. It is now believed by the researchers that a Greek sculptor worked with, possibly in a supervisory role, Qin Dynasty locals to create the Terra Cotta warriors and that the designs took directly from ancient Grecian culture.
"We now have evidence that close contact existed between the First Emperor's China and the West before the formal opening of the Silk Road. This is far earlier than we formerly thought. [There was] no tradition of building life-sizedhuman statues [found in China before then]," explained Dr Li Xiuzhen, senior archaeologist at the tomb museum."We now think the Terracotta Army, the acrobats and the bronze sculptures found on site have been inspired by Ancient Greek sculptures and art."