Horse Power: €10 million ERC Synergy grant for project in which Terracotta warriors meet the ancient Mongolian state

Prof Chris Gosden

Professor Chris Gosden, School of Archaeology

A highly prestigious €10.4 million European Research Council Synergy grant has today been awarded to an international team of researchers, led by Oxford School of Archaeology's Professor Chris Gosden - to investigate the relationship between the settled and mobiles peoples whose civilisations crossed thousands of miles of Eurasia from 2,000 BCE.

Two major states: the Xiongnu in Mongolia and the Qin in China dominated the region from the European steppe to the plains of China. The Xiongnu arose in 209 BCE and set the model for mobile horse-borne states through to the rise of the Mongols 1400 years later. The Qin took over China in 221 BCE, providing the model for the bureaucratic Chinese state down to today. Both developed through local historical forces, but also in interaction with each other, an interaction which set the basis for the Silk Road.

Professor Gosden says, ‘The ancient Chinese state created some of the world’s most impressive monuments, one of the foremost of which is the First Emperor’s Mausoleum with its terracotta warriors. The horse-borne states of the steppe laid the basis for the Silk Road which connected up the whole of Eurasia. The Horse Power project will use the latest scientific techniques together with critical thought from the social sciences to understand the interaction of China and the steppe through the trade of horses for metals. We look forward to working closely with colleagues from China, Mongolia and across Europe.’

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