Terracotta army 'may have belonged to empress'

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China's famed ancient terracotta army which surrounds the tomb of the nation's first emperor actually belonged to a female ancestor, a historian told a state-owned newspaper Wednesday.

The army of life-sized figures discovered near the northern city of Xi'an is usually thought to be guarding the burial site of Qin Shihuang, who presided over the unification of China in 221 BC and declared himself the first emperor.

But historian Chen Jingyuan told the Global Times he believes the emperor's ancestor Empress Xuan, who died 55 years before Qin's birth, was the real mastermind behind the army.

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