Research Trip in the Tarim Basin, Xinjiang, China (August 2005)

Noboru Ogata (Kyoto University)

We made a field trip in and around the Tarim Basin, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China in August 2005 as a part of our research project. Our research purpose is to locate remains of ancient settlements along the Silk Road using satellite imagery. We greatly appreciate the cooperation of Dr. Yu Zhiyong and other researchers of Xinjiang Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology. The following is our records and research results of the trip. Part of our research results is published in the following paper.

Professor Sohma, the leader of our research project, passed away in August 2012. We pray for the repose of his soul.


August 12 : Traveled from Wulumuqi to Korla.

Sunflower field near Yanqi (Karashahr).
Mountain road between Yanqi and Korla

August 13 : Traveled from Korla to Miran traversing the eastern edge of the Tarim Basin.

Swampy area near the end of Tarim River.
Typical landscape of settlements in the oases

The end of Tarim River.
Poplar trees in sandstorm

 

Oncoming car with headlights lit.
Sand ripples in the wind

August 14 : Made research on the Miran Settlement Ruins.

 
Tamarisk cone in the Miran Settlement Ruins.
«M13» feature, a watchtower, in the Miran Settlement Ruins

 

«M14» feature, a Buddhist shrine, in the Miran Settlement Ruins.
«M7» feature, a Buddhist stupa, in the Miran Settlement Ruins

 

«M3» feature, a Buddhist shrine with a stupa, in the Miran Settlement Ruins.
«M4» feature, a Buddhist monastery, in the Miran Settlement Ruins

 

«M2» feature, Buddhist temple, in the Miran Settlement Ruins.
«M1» feature, a Tibetan fort, in the Miran Settlement Ruins in the twilight

Based on Professor Sohma’s study, it was made clear that we can observe ancient irrigation networks of the Miran Settlement Ruins on satellite images. It is also obvious that ancient human activities of cultivation and irrigation are reflected on landform of the site.

CORONA Satellite Photograph over the Miran Settlement Ruins.
Restored networks of ancient irrigation canals

 

Geomorphological model of the Miran Settlement Ruins based on AW3D data

August 15 : After making research on the Miran Settlement Remains, we traveled to Ruoqiang (Charkhlik).

Remain of an ‘L’ shaped irrigation canal.
Remains of ancient canals which take the form of linear ridges in the Miran Settlement Ruins

 

Terminal canal remains running parallel.
Route from Miran to Ruochang crossing a dry riverbed

August 16 : Visited ruins near Rouqiang.

Peculiar type of banks of Charkhlik River.
Edge of the fluvial terrace near Ruoqiang

August 17 : Traveled from Ruoqiang to Qiemo (Cherchen). In the afternoon, after visiting Zaghunluk Cemetery Area, we inspected remains of an irrigation canal in the Qiemo Settlement Ruins.

 
Small oasis on the way to Qiemo.
Cherchen River with its bank destroyed by the risen water

 

 
Manor house in Qiemo, now used as a museum.
Qiemo (Cherchen) Settlement Ruins

 

Landscape of the Qiemo Settlement Ruins.
Remains of an irrigation canal in the Qiemo Settlement Remains

 

 
Surface of a ‘bank’ in the Qiemo Settlement Ruins.
‘Tati’ landscape of the Qiemo Settlement Ruins

After returning home, we inspected satellite imagery and geomorphological data, and identified networks of ancient irrigation canals.

CORONA Satellite Photograph over the Qiemo Settlement Ruins.
Restored networks of ancient irrigation canals

 

Geomorphological features of the Qiemo Settlement Ruins visualized using SRTM data

August 18 : Traveled from Qiemo to Luntai traversing the Taklamakan Desert.

Dunes in the Taklamakan Desert.
Desert Highway and paralleling shelterbelts

 

Tarim River.
Lunch in a market town near the Tarim River Bridge

August 19 : Traveled from Luntai to Turpan. Visited Jiaohe City Ruins near Turpan in the afternoon.

 
Jiaohe City Ruins.
Precipitous cliffs encircling the Jiaohe City Ruins

 

Buddhist stupas in the Jiaohe City Ruins.
Evening bazaar in Turpan

August 20 : Visited Gaochang city ruins and Huoyanshan then traveled to Beijing via Wulumuqi.

Gaochang City Ruins.
Northern part of the city wall, Gaochang City Ruins

 

Huoyanshan (Flaming Mountains) in the north of the Gaochang oasis

August 21 : Traveled from Beijing home.

The Forbidden City of Beijing

Created by Noboru Ogata
Since 01/Aug/2006 : Updated 21/Feb/2018