Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Vanished Silk Road city Loulan studied in China

BEIJING, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Chinese archaeologists say they've found evidence of agricultural activity in an ancient vanished city that was a pivotal stop along the famous Silk Road.

Scientists from the Institute of Geology and Geophysics said remote sensing procedures, field investigations and sample testing in the area showed there were once large tracts of farmland in Loulan, an important trading city that mysteriously disappeared in the third century A.D., China's official news agency Xinhua reported Sunday.
Farmland featuring regular and straight plots stretching for 200 to 1,000 yards, as well as irrigation ditches running throughout, have been found, Qin Xiaoguang, a member of the research team, said.
Grain particles in the area's ground surface are very likely the remains of crop plants, Qin said.
Evidence of an ancient canal measuring 10 to 20 yards wide and 5 feet deep suggest the city, which is thought to have perished in drought, was once rich in water resources, the researchers said.

Nice wrapped information about Loulan in the China Travel blog of Grace Fan

The Lost Kingdom - Lou Lan

The Loulan ancient city, located in the west of Lake Lop Nur in Xinjinag Uygur Autonomous Region, is world-renowned for mysteriously vanishing in sand.
Loulan Kingdom in Xinjiang was established before 176 B.C. and vanished in 630 A.D. It is said that the kingdom was swallowed by the shifting sands of Taklamakan Desert. But till now, the reason of its disappearance still remains unknown.

As one of the important parts of Silk Road, Loulan ancient city acted as trading hub in ancient China. The transactions between China and the Western welcomed streams of camel trains loaded exotic goods from many parts of the world. It also became a best place to take a break when caravans passed through Loulan.

The lost kingdom was brought to light again in the spring of 1900 by a Swedish adventurer named Sven Hedin who was exploring the west of Lake Lop Nur. In March, 1900, Hedin’s expedition came to the wasteland of Lake Lop Nur along Kongquhe River. When passed through desert, they carelessly lost their shovel in the camping area. So his assistant was sent to fetch shovel. After a moment, his assistant found the shovel and some piece of woodcarvings, therefore, Hedin decided to explore the ruins. In 1901, the ancient city Loulan was excavated by Hedin and his partners. The discovery of the ancient city of Loulan stirred a great sensation worldwide. It set off attracting archaeologists, historians and explorers form all over the world. Their excavation found more remains of buildings and relics, such as woodcarvings, ancient coins, silk fabrics, various articles for daily use as well as documents.

In the ruins of the building, the most easily seen part is “Three Rooms”. “Three Rooms” facing south is the only house whose walls are built by mud bricks, and the neighboring houses are made of wood with the trace of red paint. Some of the woods reached 6.4 meters long. Through analyzing the position and structure of “Three House”, the building might be government office of the ancient city of Loulan. In the west and south of the city are the residential quarters of common folk. These houses are coated by the mud and straw.
According to archaeologist, the human activities existed in Tarim Basin. Thinking of other abandoned ancient cities in Tarim Basin, it is amazing that all these cities vanished in the 4th and 5th century. Although historians and archaeologists have been working hard to study the history of Loulan kingdom, its rise and fall and sudden disappearance was still wrapped in the mystery.

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