Archaeologists Were Excavating A Hidden Tomb When They Found The Body Of An Ancient Chinese Warlord

In 2008 some workers were digging near the kiln where they plied their trade when they stumbled across some old stone tablets. Presumably hoping to profit from these apparently ancient artifacts, the men then kept quiet about their find. However, they were caught. And astonishingly, the tablets turned out to be from the tomb of one of China’s greatest ever warlords and leaders.

The man in question is Cao Cao, who ruled some 1,800 years ago. Born in the provincial city of Bozhou, Cao Cao lived in eastern China from 155 to 220 AD during a turbulent time in Chinese history known as the Three Kingdoms period. But the future ruler benefitted from minor aristocratic links, as his father had been adopted by Cao Teng, one of Emperor Huan’s favorite court eunuchs.

Cao Cao’s political career started at the youthful age of 20 when he was given the position of district captain of the city of Luoyang. And there he forged a reputation for ruthlessness by flogging people for even minor transgressions of city laws, no matter what the individual’s social standing.

The young Chinaman then served in various administrative posts, alternately falling in and out of favor at the imperial court, where the internal wranglings were complex and sometimes deadly. In fact, Cao Cao’s own father, Cao Song, was killed by rivals in 193, which demonstrates just how dangerous the politics of these restless years in China could be.

The reason for this rash of rebellions and attempted coups was the fact that the long-lasting Han dynasty was drawing to a close. The Han line of emperors was established in 206 BC and held sway over China for some four centuries. And as the dynasty came to an end, the country was thrown into chaos.