02/21/2013 07:33 pm ET

China Terracotta Warriors At Asian Art Museum Draw Crowds, Publicity And History Buffs (PHOTOS)

It started with a lost warrior.

While en route from China to San Francisco's Asian Art Museum, one of eight ancient terracotta warriors--arguably the greatest archeological discovery of modern times--reportedly went "missing."

The museum issued an urgent letter, sparking both news coverage and PSAs from local celebrities including Sergio Romo and Yuan Yuan Tan. Soon, sightings were reported across the Bay Area.

Finally, the warrior was found by a homeless man in United Nations Plaza, and the Asian Art Museum completed one of the city's greatest publicity stunts.

It worked.

The exhibit--eight 2,000-year-old, life-size warriors, two terracotta horses and over 100 historical objects--created enough buzz to attract Marissa Mayer, Willie Brown, Supervisor Jane Kim and Jean-Charles Boisset to an opening night gala.

But though the gala may have been lavish, the stars of the show were the warriors. Part of China's famed Terracotta Army, the warriors are part of a massive funerary art find, unearthed in 1974. Stoic and each unique, the warriors feature traditional armor, scenes of battle and details sharp enough for individual strands of hair.

And according to KGO, their mission is more than skin deep:

The hope is that this opportunity to view one of the greatest archeological discoveries of our time will also help bridge relations between the U.S. and China.

Visit the Asian Art Museum to see the warriors in person, and see a preview in our slideshow below:

China's Terracotta Warriors