1993年湖北荆门郭店楚墓出土了竹简《道德经》。考古学家根据墓葬的年代,判断竹简本的成书不会晚于公元前278年。整理者根据竹简形制及长短不同,将简文分成甲、乙、丙三组。这三组《道德经》的总字数约相当于今本的三分之一,章次安排也与今本大不相同。大多数学者认为这三组竹简系《道德经》的摘抄本。竹简本中有的句子跟通行本差异很大。如通行本第十九章“绝圣弃知”、“绝仁弃义”,竹简本作“绝知弃辩”、“绝伪弃虑”
 
In 1993, the Bamboo-Slip Daodejing was discovered in a tomb in Guodian village, in Jingmen, Hubei province. According to the age of the grave, archaeologists determined that these slips could be dated prior to 278 BCE. The researchers divided these slips into three bundles based on their form and length. The three bundles of the Bamboo-Slip Daodejing amount to one third of today’s edition, and the sequence of its chapters is different. Most scholars consider the three bundles of bamboo-slips as extracts of the Daodejing. Some sentences of the bamboo-slip edition are dissimilar to the common edition. For example, the sentences "refuse sageliness and discard wisdom" and "refuse humanity and discard morality" in the common edition, are written as "refuse wisdom and discard debate" and "refuse fakeness and discard consideration" in the bamboo-slip edition.
 
 
1973年,长沙马王堆3号汉墓出土了帛书《道德经》甲、乙本。甲本文字,不避汉高祖刘邦讳,可证它是刘邦称帝以前抄写的。乙本避刘邦讳,但不避惠帝刘盈、文帝刘恒讳,可知为刘邦称帝后,刘盈、刘恒为帝前抄写。甲、乙本皆分二篇,《德经》在《道经》之前,乙本篇末标出《德》3041字,《道》2426字,合计5467字。
 
The copy A and copy B of silk manuscripts Daodejing were discoverd in the Mawangdui tomb number three in Changsha, the capital of Hubei province in 1973. The copy A manuscript doesn't avoid the taboo character Bang 邦, present in the name of the first Han emperor Liu Bang 劉邦. That would indicate that the text were copied before the reign of Han Gaozu (Liu Bang, r. 206–194). The copy B manuscript avoids the taboo character Bang 邦, but As the character Ying 盈 of the Emperor Huidi's name Liu Ying 劉盈 and the character Heng 恒 of the Emperor Wendi's name Liu Heng 劉恒 are not avoided, it is indicated that the text were copied after the reign of Han Gaozu , but before the Emperor Hui and Wen. Both the copy A and B were divided into two pieces, and the Dejing before Daojing. Copy B marks De 3041 characters, and Dao 2426 characters. The postscript of copy A is deformed and misty.