The Chinese archaeologist credited with discovering the emblematic ancient Terracotta Warriors, Zhao Kangmin, has died aged 82, state media said.
Zhao was the first archaeologist to identify fragments of terracotta found by local farmers digging a well in 1974 as relics dating back to the Qin dynasty and the first to excavate the site.
The 8,000-man clay army, crafted around 250 BC for the tomb of China’s first emperor Qin Shihuang, is a UNESCO world heritage site, a major tourist draw and a symbol of ancient Chinese artistic and military sophistication.
Zhao’s death on May 16 was reported by the state-run People’s Daily late Friday.
When the farmers first stumbled upon the tomb in Xian, capital of the northern province of Shaanxi, they alerted Zhao — then a curator at a local museum — to their discovery.
“I went to the site with another officer… Because we were so excited, we rode on our bicycles so fast it felt as if we were flying,” the archaeologist wrote in an article published in 2014 on the website of the Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses.
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