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Ancient Town of Loulan

On the west bank of Lop Nur Lake, which is now a lake of sand instead of water, the Ancient City of Loulan was founded in the 2nd century BC in an oasis with rich water network. However it suddenly waned into the history after about 800 years flourish. The city, once the capital of State Loulan which was one of the 36 Western Regions states, occupied very significant position on the silk road.

However it simply vanished in the middle of the 6th century AD. At the beginning of last century, a Swedish explorer called Sven Hedin accidentally discovered the city buried in desert in his exploration. The discovery startled the world from then to present.

The city has already totally collapsed into dust. The only recognizable structures are a pagoda which is the largest structure in the ruins, and a seems-to-be office which still has painted timber traces.

Archeologists believe there was once a water tunnel running through the city and dividing it into two functional parts. Large amounts of potsherds, wood pieces, coins, jewelries and wood slip documents are listed in the archaeological finds, which provide us many clues of the ancient city.

Last December, there were greater finds around the ruins. Archaeologists found the graveyard which was lost after its previous discovery. On a giant sand dune, there are densely distributed wood stakes which are apparently arrayed around a column like genital. Hundreds of cymbiform coffins scatter around, while most of them are broken, with mummies lying around. Among one of them, one coffin contains a well-preserved mummy who is female with Caucasian features. Archaeologists also found colorfully painted and crosshatched coffins, remaining new. A real size wood statue with clear female characteristics, though cracking and crippled, proves that early Loulanese could produce fairly good artistic workpieces. The graveyard is, Archaeologists believe, a holy place where early Loulanese prayed for strong reproductive ability.

The discovery may explain why the active and flourishing oasis vanished. It is discovered early Loulanese preferred Sun Tomb which consists of 7 circles of logs which become thicker and thicker from the center to the outer circle, radiating like the sun. The unique and spectacular burying form prevailed and undermined Loulan's existence. Large amount of trees was consumed before Loulanese realized and legislated to control wood consumption and to protect woods and trees. However it seemed to be late and the city swallowed by the fierce desert. 

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