• Directory of Taiwan

Tomb of legendary Chinese general Cao Cao found

The tomb and remains of legendary Three Kingdoms general Cao Cao has been found

Tomb complex in Henan. (Baidu Baike image)

Tomb complex in Henan. (Baidu Baike image)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The tomb and remains of Cao Cao (曹操, 155 - 220) one of the most famous generals and politicians in Chinese history and literature during the Three Kingdoms Period from nearly two millennia ago, have been found in Henan Province's Anyang City, reported Liberty Times.

The Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology reports discovering three remains of three bodies interred in an ancient tomb and after an expert assessment, one of them has been positively identified as that of Cao Cao. The two other bodies have yet to be identified, but are believed to be both women, one approximately 50 years old, while the other is believed to be roughly 20 years of age at the time of their deaths.

According to Chinese media reports, the five mausoleum complex includes an outer rammed earth foundation, a "spirit way" (神道), a structure on the east side, and a structure on the south. The tomb has been confirmed to contain Cao Cao's body and related structures.

Archaeologists say that the exterior and perimeter of complex appears to have been deliberately left bare of official seals and trees to prevent it from being easily detected and looted of its treasures. However, based on the scale of the burial complex and the types of relics unearthed, experts unanimously believe Cao Cao was still buried at the level of an emperor.

However, there are no remnants of the ground structures around Cao Cao's tomb mausoleum, which indirectly confirms historical records that his son Cao Pi (曹丕) had issued an edict to have structures around the tomb systematically dismantled to honor his father's wish to avoid an elaborate mausoleum and to conceal the location

Two of the human remains inside the tomb were found to be relatively complete, including the body of a man estimated to be in his 60s and that of a woman in her 50s. However, the third body, believed to be a young adult woman is incomplete. Though the identity of neither woman has been confirmed, some experts speculate that one may be the mother of Cao Cao's eldest son Cao Ang (曹昂), while the other may have been the mother of Cao Cao's second son Cao Pi, who became the first emperor of the state of Cao Wei.

It is believed the older woman was Cao Pi's mother, while the younger woman was likely Cao Ang's mother, Lady Liu, as she was known to have died young.

In addition, archaeologists found another tomb next to Cao Cao's that was built at the same time. However only clothing and no body was found inside the tomb made of rammed earth.

Experts speculate that because Cao Ang died in battle but his remains were never found, his brother still tried to honor him by burying his clothes inside of the tomb.

Tomb of legendary Chinese general Cao Cao found
Archaeologists excavating tomb. (Baidu Baike image)