Beijing: Archaeologists in east China have found the remains of a controversial Chinese emperor from a 2,000-year-old tomb who was deposed and stripped of his nobility after just 27 days but later made a marquis.
The remains of the “Marquis of Haihun” were pulled up in a coffin from the tomb that historians have believed to be his last resting place since the site was discovered near Nanchang, Jiangxi province capital, five years ago.
A seal inside the coffin bore the characters for Liu He, the marquis’ name, Xin Lixiang, head of the excavation panel said.
The coffin was hoisted out in January and taken to a lab for examination, he said.
Earlier, the excavators had found another seal with the characters for “Seal of Master Liu,” and his identity was also confirmed by inscriptions on gold coins and bamboo slips found inside the tomb, state-run Xinhua news agency reported today.
People were commonly buried with identifying seals in ancient China, and emperors or nobles generally got an additional seal confirming their rank.
Excavators continuing to work in the tomb, the best-preserved burial site from that period found in China, expect to find the noble seal soon, Xin said.
Liu He was the grandson of Western Han Dynasty Emperor Wu, whose reign ushered in one of the most prosperous periods in Chinese history.
According to historical records, Liu was born in 92 BC. He became the Prince of Changyi (in today’s Laizhou, Shandong Province) at the age of five, when his father died. He was established as Emperor Fei in 74 BC, after his uncle, Emperor Zhao, died without an heir.
Liu’s rise to power may have been swift, but his demise was even swifter. Accusing Liu of incompetence, the royal clan and powerful officials banished him to his former residence in Changyi to live as a commoner.
It was about 10 years later that Emperor Xuan made Liu the Marquis of Haihun, the ancient name of a tiny kingdom in the north of Jiangxi.
Chinese history looked unkindly on Liu for a long time, but his tomb’s excavation has helped support a reassessment of him.
Liu’s critics claimed he was “profligate and devoid of principles,” but his tomb strictly matches his ranking, with no decoration indicating he had ever been an emperor, according to Xin.
The grave mound of the tomb was much shorter than the 13-meter limit for a marquis.
Other artefacts suggest Liu was an ardent Confucian, and he was a learned man judging from the amount of reading material in the tomb.
Historians now believe his intellectualism may have irritated the nobles who deposed him, the report said.
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