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China sued by farmers who found treasures

BEIJING, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- The Chinese farmers who found a 2,200-year-old massive underground army of clay warriors are suing the government for recognition.

Yang Peiyan was one of the men who were digging wells in March 1974 when, 10 feet down, they found a clay replica of a general's head and arms entangled in ancient bamboo matting. The fragments proved to be part of a life-size underground army of 8,000 foot soldiers, archers and charioteers covering several square miles adjacent to the tomb of Chinese Emperor Qin Shihuang.

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The men told the authorities, but claim officials then took all the glory -- and the money, the Times of London reported Thursday. Zhao Kangmin, a local museum director, is said to have received a government fee of about $90,000, while the farmers received only 50 cents each and free entry to the museum where they can sometimes be found signing autographs for tourists.

Officials from the government relics bureau in Shaanxi province have rejected the farmers' demand that they be recognized officially as the finders. The region's state-owned water company now claims credit for the discovery.

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