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January 14, 2010

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Tomb is definitely Cao Cao's: expert

THE ancient tomb unearthed in central China's Henan Province last month is the burial place of the legendary general Cao Cao, the top archeologist of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences confirmed yesterday.

"The discovery of Cao Cao's tomb was one of China's greatest archeological achievements in 2009," Wang Wei, head of the CASS Institute of Archaeology, told a national archeology conference in Beijing.

The occupancy of the tomb was proven by its style, size, level, age and relics, especially inscribed objects. It was an established system adopted to identify many other ancient tombs in China, Wang said.

The relics used as evidence were directly unearthed from the tomb. Other objects retrieved from grave robbers were taken into consideration only as references.

Inscriptions on the eight tablets in the tomb describing weapons often used by the "Wu King of Wei" were unquestionably solid evidence, said Wang.

"This title of Cao Cao was used only for one year, enabling us to precisely nail down the tomb's age. Also the size, location, level and style of the tomb are all in line with historical recordings of Cao Cao's tomb," he said.

More details of the excavation and how the tomb was proved to be Cao Cao's are to be released this morning, Wang said.

The announcement of the discovery on December 27 triggered skepticism from around the country with scholars and Internet commentators questioning its authenticity.

"The tomb had been raided long before the excavation. It is possible that the evidence was planted. Also there are reports saying that the tablets were retrieved from robbers," said Ma Weidu, a renowned relics collector.

Internet posts speculated that money was behind the excavation. A popular opinion on the Internet is that the tomb could bring 400 million yuan in revenue to the local government.

"It is true that the local government is planning to develop areas around the tomb. But development is only for the purpose of protection by raising funds and attention," said CASS archeologist Liu Qingzhu.

Cao Cao (AD 155-220), who built the strongest and most prosperous state during the Three Kingdoms period (AD208-280), is remembered for his outstanding military and political talents.

Cao Cao is also known for his poems that reflected his strong character.

Three ancient corpses, a man and two women, were found in the two-chamber tomb. The man was found to have died in his 60s, which coincided with the age of Cao Cao when he died.


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