Who’s Buried in Cao Cao’s Tomb? (Experts Say: Not Cao Cao)

The tomb attributed to the ancient Chinese warlord Cao Cao—part of which was excavated earlier this summer on live TV —is a fake, according to analysis by a panel of experts. The Global Times reports that at a conference on the Three Kingdoms Period, Cao Cao’s era, 23 researchers challenged the evidence linking the tomb to the antihero of historical legend :

[T]he character ? (year) on the epitaph was written in almost the same style as is in modern times, quite different to the more square style in use at the time in history.

“After over thousands of years of erosion, how come there is residue of the cave on  the stone steles from Cao Cao’s  tomb?” Li [Luping] said. “Such a cheap counterfeit takes at most three years, if not three days.”

Lin Kuicheng, director of the Calligraphy and Painting Committee of Kaifeng Federation of Literature and Art Circle, Henan Province, said that the title Wei Wu King carved on the stele of Cao Cao’s supposed tomb was not accurate or appropriate.

“Wei King was his title when he was alive and Wu King is his title after his death,” Lin explained. “Under ancient customs, there is no way the two titles would have been permitted to be put together.”

At the time of the televised excavation in June, the People’s Daily reported that the State Administration of Cultural Heritage had endorsed the authenticity of the find, which included a million-dollar gem supposedly placed in Cao Cao’s mouth.