Dingling (Ming)

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Dingling (Mausoleum of Emperor Wanli)
General information
LocationChangping District, Peking
Coordinates40°17′40″N 116°13′0″E / 40.29444°N 116.21667°E / 40.29444; 116.21667Coordinates: 40°17′40″N 116°13′0″E / 40.29444°N 116.21667°E / 40.29444; 116.21667

The Dingling (Chinese: 明定陵; pinyin: Míng Dìng Líng) is a mausoleum in China where the Wanli emperor, together with his two empresses Wang Xijie and Dowager Xiaojing, was buried. Dingling is one of the thirteen imperial tombs at Ming tombs in Changping district 45 km north of central Beijing. Dingling is the only tomb of a Ming dynasty emperor that has been opened.

The Wanli emperor was the thirteenth emperor of the Ming dynasty and ruled from 1572 to 1620. His mausoleum Dingling was built between 1584 and 1590 and occupies a surface area of 180,000 square meters. The first to suggest that the grave should be excavated was the historian and Beijing deputy mayor Wu Han. Excavation began in May 1959 and was completed within a year. More than 3,000 artefacts were found in the 1,195 square meter underground palace. The palace consists of five halls with some walls, and is located 27 meter below ground surface. In 1959 the Dingling museum was opened to the public.[1][2]

The remains of the Wanli Emperor at the Ming tombs. Red Guards dragged the remains of the Wanli Emperor and Empresses to the front of the tomb, where they were posthumously "denounced" and burned.[3]

The excavation of Dingling has been questioned because it was never formally approved and because the excavation report is held to be inadequate. Worse was a lack of technology to preserve the excavated bodies, which were quickly destroyed after the tomb opened. Even the coffins were destroyed and the buried remains thrown away. The imperial skeleton was burned in 1966 during the first phase of the Cultural Revolution. The failure of the excavation of Dingling has been used as an argument against the opening of the Tang dynasty Qianling Mausoleum and the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor.[4]

The name Dingling was used for Chinese imperial tombs both before and after the Ming dynasty. The Tang dynasty emperor Zhongzong (died 710) is buried in Dingling north of Xi'an and the Qing dynasty emperor Xianfeng (died 1861) is buried in Dingling in the Eastern Qing tombs east of Beijing.



  1. ^ Editors of Reader's Digest, . (2008). Atlas of World Heritage: China. Readers Digest. p. 177.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  2. ^ "Dingling Tomb". Beijing Ming Tombs Office of the Special Administrative Region. Archived from the original on 5 September 2013. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  3. ^ "China's reluctant Emperor", The New York Times, Sheila Melvin, Sept. 7, 2011.
  4. ^ "To Dig or Not to Dig: Qianling Mausoleum in the Spotlight Again". China Heritage Quarterly. Retrieved 24 June 2017.

Printed References[edit]

  • Editors of Reader's Digest, . (2008). Atlas of World Heritage: China. Readers Digest.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)