New research suggests that Western explorers reached China more than 1,500 years before Marco Polo’s historic trip to the East, making it the first documented contact between Western and Chinese civilizations ever recorded. Now experts believe ancient Greeks may have inspired and helped build China’s famous Terracotta Army.
The BBC reports that the new theory is based on evidence from excavations at the Tomb of the First Emperor, where the Terracotta Army was found, as well as the results of a genetic study.
“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,” said Senior Archaeologist Li Xiuzhen, from the Emperor Qin Shi Huang's Mausoleum Site Museum [via BBC].
Until now, it was believed that explorer Marco Polo was among the first Europeans to make contact with China. Polo’s journey to Asia in the 13th century was aimed at bringing some letters and valuable gifts from Pope Gregory X to the Mongol ruler of China, Kublai Khan. He was well received by the Great Khan and remained there for 17 years, where he amassed a great fortune. However, he was clearly not the first European to be there.
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