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Three Renowned Graves Remain Intact in China — Here’s Why

The Onon River, Mongolia, in autumn, a site where Genghis Khan was born and grew up. (Image:  Fan111  via   wikimedia  /  CC BY-SA 3.0)
The Onon River, Mongolia, in autumn, a site where Genghis Khan was born and grew up. (Image: Fan111 via wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0)

Well-known burial sites in China have a wide variety of anti-theft measures, but they have not allowed many to remain a peaceful resting place for the famously departed. There is a saying that 9 out of 10 tombs of the renowned in Chinese history are empty.

However, grave robbers, for a number of reasons, have not excavated all the tombs. There are three graves in China that have either eluded or cost the lives of a number of grave robbers for a variety of reasons.

Genghis Khan’s tomb

Genghis Khan’s final resting place has yet to be discovered. Some people say that his tomb is located in the city of Ordos in Inner Mongolia, while others claim it is in Liupanshani in GuizhouProvince, or somewhere in the Altai mountain range in Xinjiang Province.

Taizu, better known as Genghis Khan. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Taizu, better known as Genghis Khan. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Genghis Khan reportedly made a royal decree before his death that the world would not know where he was buried. Thus, a secret burial was carried out in honor of his wishes. According to Marco Polo, Genghis Khan’s coffin was transported to the burial site deep underground, and no evidence was left behind. Furthermore, all those with knowledge of the burial site were executed.

Qin Shi Huang’s mausoleum

Qin Shi Huang’s mausoleum was discovered more than 40 years ago, but it has never been excavated for a number of reasons. The excavation would be a very difficult and expensive project given its remote location. There are reportedly many traps within the mausoleum that would claim the life of anyone bold enough to undertake its excavation.

Qin Shi Huang’s mausoleum was discovered more than 40 years ago, but it has never been excavated for a number of reasons. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Qin Shi Huang’s mausoleum was discovered more than 40 years ago, but it has never been excavated for a number of reasons. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

There are also claims that there is a large amount of hazardous mercury used to preserve the cultural relics within the mausoleum. Also, exposing the mausoleum to the outside air will likely cause damage to the relics.

Wu Zetian Ganling’s tomb

Empress Wu Zetian‘s tomb is located in Liangshan in Shaanxi Province and is said to hold numerous treasures inside, which has attracted a large number of tomb robbers over the years. According to official records, the tomb has been robbed a total of 17 times, but the unofficial count is much higher.

The first attempt occurred during the Tang Dynasty, when the rebel Huang Chao led 400,000 troops to the site. However, after reportedly leveling half of the mountain, he could not find the entrance to the tomb.

Wu Zetian's tomb is located in Liangshan in Shaanxi province. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Wu Zetian’s tomb is located in Liangshan in Shaanxi Province. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

 

Wen Tao, a warlord during of the Five Dynasties period, led the second attempt. During the attempt, repeated violent storms were encountered, which eventually caused his soldiers to flee the area.

The third attempt occurred during Chiang Kai-Shek’s rule in the 20th century. General Sun Lianzhong led a contingent of soldiers to the site. However, before entering the tomb, seven soldiers died from hematemesis.

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