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    Default Cosmopolitan elements revealed in Qin Shi Huangdi's mausoleum

    According to Dr. Duan Qingbo (author of The First Emperor), the famous tomb complex of Qin Shi Huangdi (259-210 BC) - first Emperor of the Middle Kingdom - has revealed a formerly unknown history of early foreign contacts. Until now, most scholars thought that direct contacts between China and West Eurasia begun first in the 2nd century BC, a date which has now been pushed back to the 3rd century BC. In short, examined finds has unfolded the following:

    1. From a group of 120 workers' skeletons, three (3) Caucasoid skulls were identified. Two DNA tests has given contradictory data - the first showing a West Eurasian (in effect pure Caucasoid, or horse faces to hear the old Chinese name for Caucasoid tribes) ancestry; the second a racial profile closer to Mongoloid. Whether Central Asian or Middle Eastern workers, the trio do give an explanation to the tomb complex' interlocking rectangular brick walls, a construction design unknown of in China before the First Emperor. As foreigners, the three men might have acted as skilled labour, transfering their knowledge to the Chinese workers. They might also explain the following coincidence:

    2. The mausoleum of Qin Shi Huangdi, containing his grave guard terracotta army, carry similarities to the one century older Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. Both tomb complexes share a construction of rising levels, along with a four-horse chariot cast in bronze on top.

    3. Also, the cadre of terracotta acrobats, wrestlers and entertainers, are posed unusually. Archaeologists speculate on their foreign, possibly Burmese origin.

    Article at Heritage Key: Chief Archaeologist: New discoveries show First Emperor’s Mausoleum influenced by foreign ideas


    What do you glean from this? Is it probable that somewhat frequent direct contacts (as opposed to indirect, through nomadic intermediares carrying out trade) between West Eurasia, mainly the Middle East, and China existed prior to the Qin Dynasty and the rise in commerce and distant trade circa 200 BC-200 AD? Are there other signs of foreign influence in architecture, painting or sculpting? How isolated was ancient China?

    Ex oriente lux, ex occidente lex.

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