Archaeologists on Tuesday began to excavate an ancient tomb, suspected to belong to Qin Hui, the most infamous traitor in China's history.
The tomb in Nanjing, capital of eastern Jiangsu province, has drawn national attention as Qin Hui (1090-1155) is remembered as a traitor and often appears in traditional Chinese operas as a treacherous court official.
An archaeologist with Nanjing Museum said they were only sure the tomb belonged to the family of Qin Hui.
"It is highly possible the tomb is Qin Hui's, but it can also belong to a member of Qin Hui's family. We will find out soon from relics in the tomb," said the archaeologist, who declined to be named.
The archaeologists have found a coin of the Song Dynasty (960-1279) above one of the three coffin chambers.
Qin Hui led a peace party that opposed continued prosecution of a war to regain former Chinese territory in the north.
He maintained external security by signing a peace treaty with the nomads in the north and internal security by undermining the power of leading generals, notably Yue Fei, who had argued for war with the Juchen and whom Qin Hui had executed.
For their part in the execution of the patriotic general, iron statues of Qin Hui and his wife Lady Wang were made to kneel before Yue's tomb beside the West Lake in Zhejiang Province.
These statues have been cursed, spat and urinated upon by young and old. But now, they are protected as historical relics.
However, some historians believe the emperor, under pressure from the invading nomads and worrying about Yue Fei's role in the selection of royal heir, was the mastermind of the general's death.
(Xinhua News Agency December 27, 2006)