Tomb of Empress Wu's secretary discovered

Source:ECNS Published: 2013-9-12 10:36:27

Photo: Huashang Newspaper

The tomb of Shangguan Wan'er (664–710), an influential female politician and poet during the regime of Empress Wu Zetian (690-705), was found in Xianyang city, Shaanxi province, according to the provincial cultural relics bureau on September 9.

The tomb was found near the Xi'an Xianyang International Airport. Although it was badly damaged, and only a few burial accessories were found, archaeologists concluded that the tomb was built for Shangguan Wan'er, also known as Empress Wu's secretary, based on the inscription on the memorial tablet inside the tomb.

The discovery of the tomb and the epitaph is of great significance to the research into the history of the Tang Dynasty, said Du Wenyu of Shaanxi Normal University.

The archaeological site of the tomb is closed, as cleaning and discovery work is still underway.

Being dubbed one of "the four most talented women" in ancient China, Shangguan was praised as a "female prime minister" during the regime of Empress Wu Zetian.

Shangguan's grandfather and father were both important officials, yet both were killed because of her grandfather's opposition to Wu's power grab. Shangguan herself was demoted to slave along with her mother, but later she won the empress' appreciation for her talents in poetry and management of state affairs, and served as a secretary for the empress. In 710, she was put to death for involvement in a coup plot.

Posted in: Society, Discovery

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