Were the Terracotta Warriors of China Inspired by the Greeks?

Could this (or something like it):

A 2500 year-old Greek statue, photo from Reuters 2012.

Have inspired this?:

Terracotta warriors of Qin Shi Huang. Flickr user: travelourplanet.com

Lukas Nickel, of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, believes that recently translated ancient texts indicate that large statues began to appear in the western-most portions of China in the Qin Dynasty (around 221 BCE), in a region known in the texts as Lintao. And the statues were of 12 giants clad in foreign robes.

The direct evidence of Greek influence seems absent, but Nickel draws some comparisons to the art and culture of the Hellenistic Near East with what was happening around the same time in the 3 century Far East with regard to the sudden and short lived fascination with large terracotta statuary in China.

I’ve yet to read Nickel’s monograph (2013) -still looking for someone with access, but there’s are decent write ups at Live Science and Archaeology.org.


Nickel, Lukas (2013). The First Emperor and sculpture in China. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 76(3), 413-447.

About Carl Feagans 397 Articles
Professional archaeologist that currently works for the United States Forest Service at the Land Between the Lakes Recreation Area in Kentucky and Tennessee. I'm also a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Army and spent another 10 years doing adventure programming with at-risk teens before earning my master's degree at the University of Texas at Arlington.


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