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Chinese terra-cotta warriors returning to Philly for first time in 30 years

The exhibition opens at the Franklin Institute in September.

The Franklin Institute

The Chinese warriors of the dead, crisp in their terra-cotta finery, are coming to Philadelphia, their first visit to the city in 30 years.

Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor, put together by the Franklin Institute and the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, will feature 10 full-size clay warriors more than 20 centuries old from the burial complex of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, who died in 210 B.C. The warriors are part of the vast army of thousands guarding the emperor's tomb discovered in the 1970s by peasants digging a well near Xi'an.

"The Franklin Institute has a long history of bringing rare, highly regarded, and extremely coveted artifacts to Philadelphia," said Larry Dubinski, Franklin Institute president and chief executive.

Dubinski and a team from the institute traveled to China, extensively researched the excavations and burial site, and negotiated an artifact list of about 170 objects — weapons, jade pieces, bronze bells, ceremonial vessels, gold ornaments, coins, architectural pieces, and ornate bronze chariot replicas — that accompany the 10 clay warriors.

The exhibition, which will run from Sept. 30 through March 4, will be enhanced by augmented reality, developed by the institute, that will focus on the archaeology, history, and science behind discovery, preservation, and decay of the warriors and artifacts.

Advance tickets will be available beginning Thursday through the Franklin Institute's website — — or by phone at 215-448-1200. Daytime tickets, good for 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., are $35, and include general admission to the institute (children 3 to 11, $30; members, $10). Evening tickets, 5 to 9 Thursday through Saturday, do not include general institute admission and are $20 (children, $15).