Cao Cao’s tomb discovered


From Sina and Netease

On December 27, 2009, Department of Archeology, Hunan Province, made a statement in Beijing that they have discovered the tomb of Cao Cao (曹操), however, it soon attracted doubts and questions from various archeologists and netizens. Yesterday (December 31, 2009), to respond to the questions arised thus far, Department of Archeology from Hunan Province held an official press release in Zhenzhou (郑州).

Ever since the discovery, people have been questioning the identity of the male skull found in the tomb — whether it really belongs to the famous warrior, Cao Cao. Many archeologists and netizens have been requesting Department of Archeology from Hunan Province to perform DNA identification. However, during the press release yesterday, Sun Xin-Min (孙新民), Chief of Hunan Archeology Lab, states: "It can be rather challenging, mainly technical difficulties, to perform DNA identification over the skull discovered within the tomb." He also adds that the challenge was mainly attributed to two factors: 1) the skull discovered from various ancient tombs are, often times, not in its best shape to perform biological testing to abstract DNA samples. The success rate is not known until after sending the skull to the responsible labs; 2) in order to identify whether the skull belongs to Cao Cao, it also requires the lab to find people who are biologically related to Cao Cao to perform DNA matching and comparison.

In response to the question of whether key evidences for identification were captured from grave-robbers, the officials did not deny the fact that out of the 8 pieces of steles with "King Wu of Wei" (武魏王) engraving, one of them were captured from a grave-robber and the rest were discovered from the tomb.

20090101-caocao-02"King Wu of Wei" (武魏王) engravings


"King Wu of Wei" (武魏王) engravings

Additionally, the font of engravings on the steles, it was a rather popular calligraphy font during late Dong Han Dynasty (东汉后期),and is often called "Ba-Fen" (八分),which was developed from a similar calligraphy font during early Dong Han Dynasty. It is definitely not a modern font.

Ni, Fang Liu (倪方六), a well known specialist who studies the history of tomb robbing, questioned that the tomb discovered is missing epitaph and the mourning album. In response to the question, Hunan official stated that during the Three Kingdom (三国), Cao Cao was quite concerned with the negative effects from having a tomb monument resulted from Han Dynasty (汉代). As such, he specifically set the law to prohibit building tomb monuments and requested his off springs not to build any for his own tomb. His action created the transition period of having visible tomb monument to setting monuments within each tomb.

Specialists further states that the earliest monuments within a tomb was discovered from the "Liu, HuaiZhi Monument" (刘怀志墓志铭) in Shandong Yi-Du (山东益都). It was further identified that the monument was build during 464 A.D., or 240 years after the death of Cao Cao, which further proved out the fact that Cao Cao’s tomb would not have any monuments.


Jade, agate ornaments





Side entrance




Stone pillow



Main entrance



Stone painting

A Brief Introduction to Cao Cao

Cao Cao (曹操; 155 – March 15, 220) was a warlord and the penultimate Chancellor of the Eastern Han Dynasty who rose to great power during the dynasty’s final years in ancient China. As one of the central figures of the Three Kingdoms period, he laid the foundations for what was to become the state of Cao Wei and was posthumously titled Emperor Wu of Wei (魏武帝). Although often portrayed as a cruel and merciless tyrant, Cao has also been praised as a brilliant ruler and military genius who treated his subordinates like his family. He was also skilled in poetry and martial arts and authored many war journals.

  1. Who played Cao Cao in Red Cliff? Cao Cao did seem pretty bad-ass in the movie. I would like to see an cinematic interpretation where Liu Bei is the villian, and Cao Cao the champion. 说曹操, 曹操就道

  2. Here I make a correction that the tomb was found in Anyang, Henan province , not Hunan. Hunan is a province in the south of Yangtze River, but Henan is the one in the north of Yellow River.

  3. No disrespect. I am truly interested in archeology but I have to say that the first picture looks remarkably similar to the 15 year old restaurant they are tearing down right next to my place.

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