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Travel Tip: Art and Archaeology in England
The First Emperor

Terracotta warrior from Xi’an, China (detail)Photo courtesy of the British Museum
Terracotta warrior from Xi'an, China (detail)
Photo courtesy of the British Museum
The First Emperor: China’s Terracotta Army
LONDON  •  British Museum  •  Ongoing

The First Emperor: China's Terracotta Army is a major loan exhibition that explores one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the twentieth century, giving an insight into China’s First Emperor, Qin Shihuangdi, and his legacy.

The exhibition includes a dozen of the world-famous life-size terracotta warriors from Xi'an, China, which were buried alongside the First Emperor in readiness for the afterlife, as well as some of the most striking recent discoveries made on the site such as bureaucrats, acrobats, musicians and lifelike bronze birds.

The majority of the 120 objects loaned by the Museum of Terracotta Army and the Cultural Relics Bureau of Shaanzi Province in Xi'an, China, come from the tomb of Qin Shihuangdi, the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty, discovered by chance by villagers in 1974.

The First Emperor, Qin Shihuangdi, (r. 221 - 210 BC) is a crucial figure in China's history. In 221 BC he unified the country to create what we now know as China, the oldest surviving political entity in the world. 

The show is on view in the Reading Room.

British Museum Web Site


British Museum
Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3DG


Tel: (44) 020 7 323 82 99

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