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18 August 2006
2,500-year-old figures may be terracotta army models

Archaeologists have unearthed two 2,500-year-old terracotta figurines that are possible predecessors to the statues buried with China's first emperor Qinshihuang. The rough-hewn, 10-centimeter tall statues might be the oldest terracotta figurines produced by the Qin State at the beginning of the Warring States Period (475 BCE-221 BCE), said some experts.
     The newly found small terracotta figurines might have been used to decorate houses, said an archaeologist. The figurines were unearthed at the relics site of an ancient ceramics workshop. More than 2,000 pieces of roof tile were also found.
This is the first time such a large number of Qin State roof tiles have been discovered, said Tian Yaqi, a researcher with the Institute of Archaeology of Shaanxi Province. Roof tiles were used on ancient buildings in China, usually engraved with characters and patterns. Fifteen different types of animal pattern - including tigers, phoenixes, toads and deer - have been found on the tiles.
     According to the China Daily, the figurines "are believed to be the original forms" of the style used to make the terracotta army - 8,000 life-size models of soldiers surrounding the Emperor Qin Shihuangdi's tomb.

Sources: People's Daily Online (15 August 2006), Associated Press, The Guardian (17 August 2006)

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