A group of scientists are conducting a comprehensive archaeological survey of the hinterland of the Taklamakan desert, in southwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
The long term archaeological expedition began on Saturday. Scientists, along with over 50 camels and 10 experienced guides, have conducted cleaning and surveys in Huyangdun Buddhist Temple, Karaqin and Speer Ancient City. Huyangdun Buddhist Temple is an ancient temple dating back to Han Dynasty, about 2,200 years ago. It is one of the earliest temples with a multilayer of square walls in China. The Karaqin is a round ancient city with nearly six hundred history. It is just bigger than a football field.
Archaeologist have found an ancient weapon there. Speer Ancient City was discovered in 2004. It has a history of about 1800 years, the earliest city with landscape planning. Experts believe that Speer Ancient City is a royal city of a small country in Han Dynasty.
- Ancient relics found at Taklamakan Desert 2013-02-16
- Crossover: Excavation trip into Taklamakan Desert 2013-02-15
Ecological changes in the desert
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By CCTV reporter Wu Lei.
A group of scientists have been on an archeological expedition in the hinterland of the
desert in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region since last week.
The relics of an ancient oasis city have become their key focus. This city within a square walled enclosure is seen by some archeologists as the best preserved city ever found in the southern Taklamakan desert. It can be dated back to over 1800 years ago. What caused the decline of this once prosperous settlement? Our reporter Wu Lei talked to one of the experts.
With these vivid lines, Professor Ding Fang brought the 1800 year old city back to life.
"The archeologist believes this exposed ruins in the desert was once an oasis city with large areas of green trees, farmland and even irrigation systems. But how did it fade to just stones buried in the sand?"
Dr. Tang Zihua specializes in analysing ecological and environmental changes. His careful inspection unveiled a large channel. He thinks this supplied the water of the whole city for a long period.
Dr. Tang Zihua, Geologist from Inst. of Geology, CAS, said, "Now you could not find any living plants around the city. But over a thousand years ago, this place would have been quite different. Because of the water, there would have been many species growing and living here. And in large numbers."
So the stable water supply was the life source of the city. Why and how then did it falter, leading to the destruction of the city is the burning question.
Tang Zihua said, "One possible reason could be that the water was cut off gradually. Probably because of the irrational use of water in the upper reaches of the river. For example, excessive usage, or intentionally changing the river’s flow. There was no scientific system to utilize the whole river."
The fall of this city is an early chapter in the dangers of desertification, telling of the need to protect plants and use water resources wisely. We learn from history. And these remains could provide a lesson for modern day residents living in oasis cities.