Ancient Legendary Ruler's Tomb Found

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A view of the site of the excavated tomb of Cao Cao, a renowned warlord and politician, found in the Henan Province, central China. Archaeologists confirmed the discovery of Cao's mausoleum on December 27.

Chinese archaeologists believe they have found a nearly 1,800-year-old tomb belonging to the legendary ruler Cao Cao, who was known as a cruel tyrant but also a cunning military strategist and poet.

The tomb is located in central Henan province, not far from the Yellow River and near the city of Anyang, the state China Daily reported Monday. Cao Cao ruled the Kingdom of Wei from 208 to 220, when he died at age 65.

"Excavation has been going on for nearly one year, and we'll come up with further evidence," said Guan Qiang of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, quoted in the paper.

"But even based on what we've got, we can tell for sure that the mausoleum belongs to Cao Cao."

Numerous articles found in the tomb are inscribed as "personal belongings frequently used by the 'King Wu of Wei,'" Cao Cao's posthumous title, it said.

Archaeologists have found the remains of three people in the tomb -- a male around 60 years of age, believed to be Cao Cao, a female of about 50 and a second woman between 20 and 25, thought to be the king's wife and escort respectively.

The tomb was discovered about a year ago, but only became known to authorities after stone tablets carrying inscriptions of "King Wu of Wei" were seized from alleged tomb raiders, the report said.

So far archaeologists have recovered over 250 relics from the tomb which covers an area of 740 square meters (8,000 square feet), an area befitting a burial plot for someone of Cao Cao's stature, it said.

During his rise to power during the waning years of the Han Dynasty, Cao Cao became known as a clever yet cruel tyrant who was also a military genius.

His exploits form an important aspect of the 14th century historical novel, "Romance of the Three Kingdoms," known as one of China's greatest literary works and a publication that remains widely read today.

Cao Cao remains a mainstay in Chinese culture and is a frequent character in Peking opera and historical theatre. He was most recently portrayed in director John Woo's blockbusters "Red Cliff" and "Red Cliff 2".

His poems continue to be taught in schools throughout China.