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Western contact with China began long before Marco Polo, experts say

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China and the West were in contact more than 1,500 years before European explorer Marco Polo arrived in China, new finds suggest, the BBC reports.

Archaeologists say inspiration for the Terracotta Warriors, found at the Tomb of the First Emperor near today’s Xian, may have come from Ancient Greece.

They also say ancient Greek artisans could have been training locals there in the Third Century BC.

Polo’s 13th Century travel to China had been thought the first by a European.

“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.

A separate study shows European-specific mitochondrial DNA has been found at sites in China’s westernmost Xinjiang Province, suggesting that Westerners may have settled, lived and died there before and during the time of the First Emperor.

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