Ancient tomb remains a mystery

09:22, January 06, 2010      

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The question of how to verify the authenticity of historic remains believed to be that of Chinese warlord Cao Cao remains unanswered even after DNA tests were considered but were not done because they were deemed useless.

The remains, excavated since 2008 in Anyang, Central China's Henan Province, are a source of intrigue.

A large tomb complex with 1800 years of history was dug up in 2008, and officials from the cultural relics administration of Henan Province said Sunday that the tomb most likely belonged to Cao Cao because the words "King Wu of Wei," which some believe to be Cao's title, were found among the markers. Some bones were also found in that tomb.

Cao, who was born in 155 and died in 220, was a warlord and chancellor in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 to 220 AD) who rose to power during the dynasty's final years. Cao was portrayed as a cruel and merciless tyrant, but was also praised as a brilliant ruler and military genius.

More than 250 articles made of gold, silver and pottery were unearthed from the 740-square-meter tomb, a size appropriate for a king, Zhengzhou Evening News reported on December 28, 2009.

The position of the tomb is in line with historical recordings and ancient books from Cao Cao's time, the report said.

While the location of Cao's tomb is still a mystery, that of his son, Cao Zhi, triggers less controversy. There are four to five tombs believed to belong to Cao Zhi, and scholars believe in the authenticity of the one found in Yushan, Shandong Province in 1951.

Many archaeologists and Internet users expressed doubt at the announcement of Anyang tomb to be Cao Cao's.

Some of them suggested they compare the DNA with the bones found in Anyang, with that of his son.
However, Liu Yuxin, a local officer in charge of Cao Zhi's tomb, said the 28 bones of the son were lost in the 1950's, Shandong Business Daily reported.
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