December 12, 2007 / 9:12 AM / 10 years ago

China probes "fake" terracotta warriors claim

<p>Scale-models of terracotta warriors are pictured on sale at the exhibition "Power in Death - The Terracotta Army of the First Emperor of China", at the Museum of Ethnology in Hamburg December 11, 2007. Police are investigating whether the German museum's exhibit of ancient Chinese terracotta warriors was faked.Christian Charisius</p>

BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Wednesday it was investigating reports that ancient Chinese terracotta warriors on show in Germany are fake.

German media reported on Sunday that officials from Xi'an, home of the 2,000-year-old clay army, said the Hamburg museum's figures had to be copies. Chinese officials were quoted saying they were not aware of original figures on loan in Germany.

"We are now investigating this issue," an official from the State Administration of Cultural Heritage told Reuters. "We are paying great attention to this."

The Hamburg Museum of Ethnology is offering refunds to about 10,000 visitors who have already viewed the "Power in Death" exhibition since it opened on November 25, pending an outcome to the probe.

The display of eight clay warrior figures, two horses and 60 smaller objects will remain open -- with a sign stating its authenticity is disputed -- until a panel of Chinese experts arrive to review the figures later this week, museum spokeswoman Marina Lifschitz said.

The biggest overseas loan by the Chinese museum housing the terracotta army is currently at the British Museum in London, whose "First Emperor" exhibition contains 120 artifacts, including 20 life-size warriors.

Reporting by Beijing newsroom, writing by Nick Macfie

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