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China Finds Tomb of Tang Dynasty 'Female Prime Minister'

China says it unearths the tomb of Shangguan Wan'er, a senior female politician from the Tang Dynasty often referred to as a 'prime minister', in northwestern Shaanxi province. 2013-09-13 04:31 PM EST
China has found the tomb of a senior female politician from the Tang Dynasty often referred to as a 'prime minister'.
 
The tomb of Shangguan Wan'er, who lived between the seventh and eighth centuries, was unearthed near an airport in Xianyang City in Shaanxi Province.
 
Shaanxi's provincial capital, Xi'an, was China's capital under the name Chang'an during the Tang, and is home to the infamous Terracotta Warriors.
 
The tomb was around one-hundred-and-eighteen feet long and 33 feet deep, and had five skylights, a corridor and vaults.
 
Archeologists found a carved epitaph inside the tomb reading 'Shangguan Zhaorong of Tang' which describes in detail her family background, biography and other information.
 
Shangguan Wan'er is celebrated in Chinese literature and poetry as a close aide to empress Wu Zetian.
 
After Empress Wu's death, Shangguang Wan'er was selected by Emperor Zhongzong to be the 'second highest concubine', a role in which she drafted imperial orders.
 
China's rapid urbanization in recent decades has contributed to the unearthing of countless new artefacts and tombs as farmland is churned up for new developments.

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