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The First Emperor

By Tom Chatfield  

I was lucky enough to attend the press preview of the British Museum’s new show, The First Emperor, earlier today. Intimately enclosed within the Great Court’s reading room, it presents the largest group of important objects relating to China’s first Emperor—Qin Shihuangdi (秦始皇), who ruled from 221 to 210 BC—ever to be loaned abroad. It’s also set to be one of the most-visited shows in the history of the museum, with 160,000 advance bookings and a target of at least 500,000. It barely scratches the surface of the vast archaeological site in China the artefacts are drawn from, yet offers…

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