The archaeological team working on the Terracotta Army discovered in the mausoleum of an ancient Chinese emperor is the winner of the 2010 Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences.
In an annoucement made Wednesday in Oviedo, the award jury said the terracotta warriors, also known as the warriors of Xi'an, is one of the most important archeological discoveries of the 20th century.
"The archaeological team has developed a multi-disciplinary study that allows the study of the epoch of China that goes back 2,000 years," said the jury.
"We want to award the work that has shown the importance of the Chinese culture to the world and which reflects such a key moment in the history of civilizations," the jury said.
The Terracotta Army in the mausoleum of Qinshihuang, the first emperor of the Qin dynasty (221 BC-207 BC), was discovered in 1974. It is made up of over 7,000 life-sized terracotta warriors and horses drawn up in battle formation.
Continued investigations have led to the discovery of a 30-meter tall building over the emperor's tomb that had been covered by an artificial hill. Experts believe there is still more to be uncovered.
The Terracotta warrior site was made a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1987.
The candidacy of the Terracotta Army was proposed by Carlos Blasco Villa, the Spanish ambassador to China.
The Prince of Asturias Awards were established in 1980 to recognize the "scientific, technical, cultural, social and human effort carried out by persons, institutions, groups or institutions in the international arena."
The award announced Wednesday was one of this year's eight Prince of Asturias Awards. Previously, the arts award went to American sculptor Richard Serra.