Ancient Greeks Travelled to China 1,500 Years Before Marco Polo and Built Terracotta Army

Ancient Greeks settled in China more than 1,500 years before Marco Polo, new research has shown, after archaeologists concluded that the Terracotta Warriors could have been made with the help of the Ancient Greeks.

The 8,000 statues, which guard the mausoleum of the First Emperor, are likely to have been made under the guidance of a European sculptor who worked with locals at the site and took influence from Ancient Greece.

An extensive study of sites in Xinjiang Province, China, has revealed European-specific mitochondrial DNA, suggesting Westerners travelled, settled and died there before and during the time of the First Emperor — 1,500 years earlier than currently accepted.

The discoveries have been hailed by the tomb’s lead archaeologist, Zhang Weixing, as “more important than anything in the last 40 years,” surpassing even the unearthing of the Terracotta Army itself in significance. It is thought to be the first documented contact between Western and Chinese civilizations.

The findings came about during excavations across the site by mausoleum archaeologists, which have been documented for television by the National Geographic Channel and BBC.