Chinese and Belgian scientists have renewed a joint project to preserve China's 2,000-year-old Terracotta Army in China's ancient capital Xi'an.
According to a deal struck between the Museum of Terracotta Warriors and Belgium's Janssen Pharmaceutical Co. earlier this week, the latter will provide US$1.42 million of funds, equipment and training programs to help the museum better preserve the heritage until 2010.
The two sides have agreed to set up China's first foundation for heritage protection and three more research laboratories.
The terracotta warriors and horses have been eroded by mould since they were opened to tourists in 1979, a result of higher temperatures and humidity. And millions of tourists flocking to the site have caused the mould to spread faster.
The statues of soldiers and horses were buried with Emperor Qin Shihuang. Qin Shihuang is credited with creating the first Chinese empire in 221 B.C. and ruled until 210 B.C. His tomb near Xi'an has never been opened but the life-size figures of soldiers and horses unearthed from surrounding pits in the 1970s are a major tourist attraction.
The pits hold some 8,000 figures of soldiers and horses and the site is ranked "the eighth wonder of the world."
(Xinhua News Agency October 22, 2006)