Experts solve tomb mystery

09:55, January 14, 2010      

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A 12-member team of experts is expected to offer strong evidence today that an ancient tomb found in Henan Province does in fact belong to the warlord Cao Cao.

The team, from the Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, visited Anyang, Henan Province Monday for further verification after some questions were raised about whether DNA tests could positively help link Cao Cao, a warlord and chancellor in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 to 220 AD), with the remains.

The institute's director, Wang Wei, said they came across some relics and clues that were previously ignored. He said the clues were helpful in proving who owned the tomb, and details will be re-vealed at a forum today, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

The investigative group included archaeology experts specializing in Han-Wei (25 to 265 AD) period, excavation researchers specializing in Yecheng, capital of Cao's Wei empire, iron and jade articles, and chemical composition analysts.

Wang Minghui, a member of the team, told the Global Times Wednesday that their in-vestigation focused on the environment around the tomb, the form of burial and the relics that were dug out.

"I never doubted the tomb belonged to Cao Cao," he said. "By now, I have not heard such doubts from other experts in this group."

"The existing remains dug out from the tomb have formed a link, which is enough to prove the tomb belonged to Cao Cao," he said.

Controversy erupted after the cultural relics administration of the province announced in December that the tomb was owned by Cao, because the words "King Wu of Wei", which some believe was Cao's title, was found among the markers.

Some archaeologists said the tomb was rough and not in line with the style of the dynasty. Others called for a comparison of DNA between the bones found in the tomb with that of his son Cao Zhi.

Scholars believe in the authenticity of the son's tomb found in Yushan, Shandong Province in 1951.

More than 250 articles made of gold, silver and pottery were unearthed from the 740-square-meter Anyang tomb, a size consistent with a king.

But Wang Minghui, an expert specializing in testing the age of bones, said DNA test could not work in this case.

"The bad-shape skulls and teeth, the technical barrier and pollution in the relics make a DNA test almost impossible," he said. "Even if we find Cao's decedents, they still cannot prove Cao's identity."

Source: Global Times
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