They found Cao Cao’s grave.

South China Morning Post reports on the massive mausoleum of a legendary figure from Chinese history – the general Cao Cao, a character in the Romance of Three Kingdoms, whose 1,800-year-old burial complex has just been unearthed by the Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Heritage and Archaeology:

The archaeologists said they had discovered the ruins of a massive mausoleum park that included two constructions as well as a tunnel.

Historical texts say that Cao made a will that ordered that his burial site should not be marked, but Zhou Ligang, a researcher at the institute who is in charge of the archaeological programme, said that the latest findings showed that Cao Pi, the son who succeeded him, did not follow his father’s will but built a great cemetery to honour his father and emphasise his filial piety.

But experts believe that the son later ordered the destruction of the monuments on the surface for fear that his father’s tomb would be targeted by opponents or robbers.

“If the construction was knocked down by his opponents, there would be plenty of debris at the scene, but at Cao Cao’s mausoleum that is not in that case.”

To honour his father, Cao Pi must have ordered that all the debris be cleared, Zhou said.

But the first clues emerged in 2009, when archaeologists seized a stone tablet allegedly found in a tomb in Gaoxixue village in Anyang county, which bore the inscription “King Wu of Wei”, Cao Cao’s posthumous title.

The local authorities announced that this had identified the tomb as Cao Cao’s burial site, although experts remained sceptical at first.

[via Archaeological News]