I came across this link Mysterious Cave Complexes discovered in China that describes some caves in China that supposedly were built by unknown people hundreds of years ago. They are known as the HMG or Huashan Mysterious Grottoes.

They are supposed to have been built a long time ago; for example, The Epoch Times wrote,

The exact time of the cave's construction is currently unknown. However, according to the minerals found inside the cave, the experts estimate that it was constructed at least 1,700 years ago.

The same age quote is given here from Anhui Tourism Administration with a disclaimer that nothing is known about the caves!

All the Huashan Caves, each ranging from 10 meters to 20 meters in height, were manually chiseled more than 1,700 years ago. [...] The history and purposes of Huashan Caves are now untraceable due to the lack of any words in books or on cave walls describing their use.

Chinese cave

I couldn't find any trustworthy information abut them with Google, other than sites that are unskeptical by nature and seem willing to perpetuate any myths (i.e. they are religious websites). I am skeptical that these are ancient caves, and they are more likely modern caves, carved for industrial or military reasons, then abandoned.

This is region is popular with tourists, and think the story of these caves is fictional in order to drive business.


1 Answer 1


The article titled Lichenometric dating and the nature of the excavation of the Huashan Grottoes, East China says in its Highlights section,

  • The period of excavation of Huashan Grottoes have been determined to be 450–335 yr BP [or the middle and late Ming Dynasty (1552–1667 AD)]
  • The purpose of exploration is the tremendous demand for stone materials.

It uses 4 methods to get these dates:

  • lichenometric dating
  • lithologic comparison of the grottoes and the surrounding ancient architectures
  • studies on the historical documents
  • fragments of ancient porcelain in the grottoes.

Though they were started in the Ming Dynasty (above), excavation might have continued into the Qing:

we infer that the excavation of the inner grottoes might have lasted till the Qing Dynasty (1636–1912 AD), because the lichens chosen for dating are mainly at the grottoes' entrances

  • 3
    The Qing Dynasty lasted until 1912, so it is possible that the excavation shown in my original picture was created by modern "20th century" technology, while the entrances were carved earlier (400 years ago). In any case, there is no evidence that the caves are 1700 years old. Commented Nov 5, 2013 at 18:01

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