Cao Cao’s tomb was stolen many times

Cao Cao used to steal graves to take gold and silver to feed his army and when this politician died, his burial place was also inevitably burgled.

Cao Cao (155-220) was a famous politician, military, and poet of the late Eastern Han Dynasty. He was the one who laid the military foundation to establish the Cao Wei government in the Three Kingdoms period (220-280), later honored by his son as Emperor Wei Wu.

History books record that when he was new to conquest, Cao Cao came up with the intention of stealing graves to feed his army. In order to ensure an organized and highly effective grave theft, he even proposed positions in the army such as “grave opening officer”, “gold and silver statistics official”… Therefore, the folk called Cao Cao. is the “grave thief’s profession”.

In the year 200, the famous writer Tran Lam once criticized Cao Cao for robbing the tombs of Luong King Luu Vu (188-144 BC) and Empress Ly in Mang Dang Mountain, present-day China’s Henan province. Shui Jing spell, an ancient book compiled during the Three Kingdoms period, wrote that “Cao deployed troops, destroyed the tomb of King Luong, broke the coffin, and took away ten thousand pounds of gold”. Cao Cao raised his army for three years thanks to this gold.

Structure of Cao Cao's tomb.  Photo: Sina

Structure of Cao Cao’s tomb. Image: Theirs

Phan Wei Bin, a researcher at the Institute of Cultural and Archaeological Relics of Henan Province, said that the clues about Cao Cao’s tomb appeared in 1998, when the people of West Gaoxue discovered a stele related to Lu Qian. Later Zhao period (319-352).

The stele describes the way to the tomb of Lu Qian, but reveals the tomb of Cao Cao. “From the west of Cao Quyet Bridge, go west 1,420 steps, then go south 170 steps to reach the northwest corner of Emperor Wei Wu’s tomb. From here, go west 43 steps, then go north 250 steps is the tomb of Lu Potential”.

Mr. Phan said that in 2002, people in the village took soil to bake bricks in this area, and discovered that the soil was unusual, very solid, but for unknown reasons. By 2005, the hole dug to get soil was up to 5 m deep and someone discovered it connected to an ancient tomb. The traces suggest that the tomb was once robbed. The villagers filled the hole, but then thieves still came to dig the grave.

Scientists in the process of excavating Cao Cao's tomb on June 12, 2010.  Photo: Xinhua

Scientists in the process of excavating Cao Cao’s tomb on June 12, 2010. Image: Xinhua

To preserve the tomb, the Chinese government in late 2008 allowed archaeological excavations. “Since September 2009, the excavation of the tomb has been carried out. The tomb was very messy at that time,” said Phan Vi Ban.

The mausoleum is made of bricks, faces east and looks like the Chinese word Giap when viewed from above. It has an area of ​​​​about 740 m2, the deepest point is about 15 m below the ground. The mausoleum has two main compartments, 4 side compartments and interconnected aisles. The walkway down is 39.5 m long and 9.8 m wide.

Thieves dug many holes in the ground and walls. Scientists determined the tomb was stolen at least seven times, both ancient and modern. They found packages of instant noodles, flashlights, mineral water bottles and cigarettes in the grave.

On 11/11/2009, after cleaning a piece of stone, archaeologists discovered the words “Wei Wu Emperor often used”. They join the other pieces that are completed by a card called “The way the Great Tiger Striker Wei Wu is used”, which refers to Cao Cao’s favorite weapon.

The remains of three people were unearthed, identified as a man in his 60s, a woman in her 50s and a girl in her 20s. Scientists believe that the man is Cao Cao.

Pieces of stone noting objects Cao Cao often used in the museum on April 24.  Photo: Xinhua

Pieces of stone marked items Cao Cao often used. Image: Xinhua

Officials discovered about 250 relics in the mausoleum, including stone paintings depicting social activities during the time Cao Cao lived, stelae engraved with sacrifices and some items that are said to be personal belongings. that Cao Cao often uses, including stone pillows. There are also celadon and white porcelain from many regions in the south of Truong Giang.

Experts consider many of the relics to be rare during the time when Cao Cao lived, reflecting his special status. However, the ancients really followed Cao Cao’s teachings on simple burial.

“Certainly many relics have been stolen, but are there gold and silver treasures? I don’t think so,” Phan said.

That seems to make some visitors to the Cao Cao Tomb Museum, which opened in April, feel disappointed. “I thought Cao Cao’s tomb should be comparable to the tombs of famous princes of the Han Dynasty. I don’t know if it’s because there are few relics worth seeing, I’m a bit disappointed,” one person commented online. society.

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