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ENDERE RUIN

 
 

Endere is located in the Takla Makan Desert north-east of Khotan in the Endere river near where it disappeares into the desert. It is east of and close to Niya. See the maps listed below.

 
  Stein visited Endere during his first exploration and described the work there in Ancient Khotan. The following is extracted from that book.

Section I - The March to the Endere River

Stein describes his move from Niya to Endere River. He notes that the temperature while at Niya had a minimum of 6 - 9 degrees below zero. On 13 February Sten started back to the Mazar Iman Ja'far Sadiq. He was reluctant to leave, but realized the winter was ending and little time remained before the spring would bring sand storms. There he paid the exhausted workers. He hired a fresh team from Niya village. They set out eastward on 15 February. On 17 Febrary they followed the course of the Yartunguz River. They stopped at a new oasis village, Kala-sulaghi. On 18 February they continued east over sand dunes reaching to 180 feet high.

Section II - Excavation of the Endere Temple

On February 21 Stein sighted the stupa at Endere ruin. The new team from Niya arrived at the same time, having crossed 120 miles of desert. Immediately Stein found something new - an imposing fortress wall encircling the main ruin shown in plan on Plate XXXVI. It was a circular clay rampart nearly 320 feet in diameter. Stein immediately put his entire team to work excavating a building within the fortress walls. It turned out to be a well decorated temple. It was ab out 18 feet 4 inches on each side, with walls made of timber and plaster. The main timbers were very large. Remains of statues occupied each corner of the central room. Although most of the plaster figures and decorations were broken and extremely fragile, Stein managed to take a few samples including a piece of otherwise destroyed wall fresco to London. He describes the building and its contents in detail and includes photos. His hopes for documents were fulfilled when he found a nearly complete 46 page folio sized Buddhist canonical work in Sanskrit from the 7th or 8th centuries. Other documents were in Brahmi or Gupta in possibly proto-Tibetan language. There were other fragments in Tibetan language. Dr Barnett confirmed that these were part of a Pothi containing about half of the canonical text of the Salistamba-sutra. Analysis of the paper indicates that the document was imported from Tibet. Stein writes that these are the earliest specimens of Tibetan language yet known. On one wall he found a written text with a specific date of 791 AD. It was in 791 that T'ang control finally fell to a Tibetan invasion. On other walls there were grafiti in Tibetan script. Stein also found pieces of textiles and drawings.

Section III - The Ruined Fort and Stupa of the Endere Site

After thoroughly excavating the temple on 23 February Stein focused on several smaller rooms. In some of these the walls retained the lower portion of excellent frescos and on one wall appeared a complete panel depicting Ganesa or Vinayaka, the four armed deity with elephant head from India. Stein found another, very large, building with massive walls constructed of large bricks. The remains of large roof beams were lying in the sand. He identified this as the residence of the commander.
Stein then examined the fortification. The wall was a solid rampart of stamped clay probably built up inside rectangular forms. Sections of the wall were destroyed by erosion but other sections retained some height up to 17.5 feet . The width of the rampart was about 30 feet at the base and where the top remained there was a parapet 5.5 feet high and 3 feet thick. Where the original gate was located there was only a wide gap 18 feet wide with small square bastions on either side. Stein then describes the stupa, which is well illustrated with the text. It was rather large, a dome 16 feet in diameter and 14 feet tall despite a broken off top. This is on top of the standard three level square base.

Stein completed work at Endere on 26 February. With the spring sand storms rapidly approaching Stein started back westward to explore more ruins around Keriya and Khotan.

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  Stein returned to Endere during his second expedition and described his excavation efforts in Serindia from which the following is extracted.

Chapter VII - Ancient Sites of Endere

There is excellent discussion of these topics in Chapters XXVI and XXVII of Ruins of Desert Cathay.

Section I - Ruins of Bilal Konghan

After leaving the Niya ruin Stein stopped for a day at Iman Ja'far Sadiq Mazar. Then on November 1st he again started east directly across the sand to return to the Endere ruin excavated in 1901. The site contained a fort and stupa. He stopped again at Yar-tungaz Tarim to meet again with Abdul Kaim Akhun and collect more supplies. He continued on 4 November. Enroute he was told by a local at the Mazar, Sadak, who had brought his a Kharosthi document from a site in the desert. Stein was skeptical that such an old document would be from that location. Before even reaching the Endere Stein found a set of ruined buildings in the Bilal Konghan depression 5 miles to the west. They were within an oval fortification wall made of mud 16 feet wide at its base and 8 feet high on which was a platform and parapet. The gate was 11 feet wide and still retained its door beams. The outer side of the rampart was stamped mud all looking rather primitive. But Stein concluded the ruin was not all that ancient. His conclusion was based on absence of significant wind erosion which always was a characteristic of truely ancient locations subject to centuries of attack by wind-driven sand and gravel. Nevertheless he set his large crew of workers to excavating two buildings. The sand had protected much of the structures. The workmanship revealed at the walls were uncovered was not up to the standards shown elsewhere. Most annoying Stein didn't find any of the refuse dumps that contained much of his 'finds'. He decided the whole settlement was a relatively recent Muhammaden colony. In connection with this estimate he discusses the manner in which the Endere River (like others) has shifted its course over the centuries back and forth from east to west as silt piles up in one course causing the water to shift around it. But through the centuries during which Niya and Charchan were thriving an intermediate station on the Endere River was important. The Muhammaden effort was of a like causation, but in this case it failed rather quickly, the evidence of wide spread fire brings to mind another possible cause. Another is that the site may have been the location for a prison camp.
From local settlers at nearby Endere Tarim he learned that the difficulty in maintaining an agricultural settlement stems not only from the manner in which the river shifts its course, requireing a shift in the fields and homes, but also from the way in which the large spring flood can wreck the irrigation canals necessitating more repair labur than may be available.

Section II - Excavations around and within T'ang fort of Endere

On November 8th Stein reached the stupa land mark of the Endere site he found in 1901. His rushed visit then prevented him from doing extensive excavation and survey work. The same grafiti on the wall around the stupa remained - as Chiang Szu-yeh confirmed with date 719 AD. He quickly went to the mound identified by Sadak as the location at which he had found the Kharosthi script. This proved to be another lucrative refuse mound. It immediately disgorged another Kharosthi text prompting Stein to reward Sadak on the spot. The mound consisted of a small brick structure at the bottom full of debris and then a layer of stable refuse above it, indicating two separate periods of usage. Stein concluded that the fort was originally occupied by Chinese in the early 8th century and then abandoned when the Tibetans controled the area.
He here refers to his report from 1901 in which Hsuan-tsang's report that when he passed this area in 645 AD he found an already ruined ancient scene was cited as evidence of the antiquity of the ruin. He was pleased to find this Kharosthi evidence that Hsuan-tsang was correct, the site had been occupied centuries prior to 645 (and abandoned in the 3rd century) and occupied again shortly after Hsuan's visit. It became an important Chinese, T'ang, fort in the second half of the 7th and the 8th centuries and subsequently also a Tibetan outpost. Further exploration revealed more buildings including another stupa and a large tower. There was extensive pottery fragments and some coins on the clay ground. Digging into the rampart that dated from late 7th century Stein discovered that it also had been built right over the refuse of the much earlier Tu-huo-lo settlement. And right in this refuse layer Stein pulled out a leather document with Kharosthi script. Further clearing revealed that the bank of refuse was 6 feet thick (high). Stein was at pains to lean that in the fragments of textiles from this refuse there were none containing cotton. He now had ample labor available to clear the large buildings inside the fort walls. In this he found excellent woodwork. And the wood was from the cultivated Eleagnus tree rather than the wild Toghrak. Parts of the brick walls retained their thick plaster cover.

Section III - Survey of earlier remains at Endere

While clearing of the fort continued, Stein expanded his exploration around it. He found clay mounds buried in sand and concluded these also dated from the early Tu-huo-lo era. He also found to the north another enclosure measuring 540 feet south to north and 340 feet across. As so often was the case the insesant north-east wind had almost destroyed these walls but some bases remained 30 -35 feet thick Some parts of a rampart with wall of sun-dried bricks set on clay remained. Although more ruined by its longer exposure to the wind, this fort had originally been built of stronger walls. He notes that the results of continual erosion may leave coins, glass, pottery and other debris from very different era lying next each other on the remaining hard surface of 'tatis'.
Stein also uncovered another small but massive fort south of the main site with solid walls of stamped clay 8 feet thick and 18 feet high in places. The entrance gate was protected by a bastion. Inside was a court 48 feet square. Stein concluded that this fort also was constructed well before the T'ang era. The wall was considerably overtopped by a 38 feet high Tamarisk cone that must have grown up after the wall was built. While leaving Endere and heading south Stein found more isolated ruins of buildings in the desert. He made his last archeological effort around Endere on 13 November.

Section IV - General Observations of Endere and old Tu-huo country

In this section Stein focuses on the main facts he can determine from suveys at Endere and to the east. He believes the area was occupied during two distinctly separated eras. The earlier era is reveiled by the mound of refuse under the T'ang fort walls and by the smaller fort to the south. The large stupa and walls near it likely date the same. This period coincides with that at Niya - that is it was abandoned at end of 3rd or early in 4th centuries AD. To the later era belongs the T'ang fort and temple with the inscription dated 718 AD. He declines to state conclusively why either settlement was abandoned. He notes the general drying of the climate and reduction in river flow from the K'un-lun. But that is not the only possible cause for abandoment of agriculture. He once again pleased that archeology has proved his pilgrim, Hsuan-tsang so accurate in his descriptions. But he denies that Hsuan-tsang's mention of the name, Tu-huo-lo proves (as other commentators believe) that the Tochari ruled this region before appearing in Bactria.
He refers again to Chinese historical records and Sung Yun's report that the Hephtahalites controled a huge area from the middle of the 5th century until they were dislodged by the Western Turks a century later. Their main base was "Tokharistan' on the Oxus. Stein dates the first occupation of Endere to that of the Niya and Lou-lan sites which would connect Endere with the Tukhara. He wants to connect this with Hsuan-tsang's mention of the name Tu-huo-lo (Hephtalalite) control given to him by his guides for the ruin he passed.

Section V - List of antiques found or excavated at Endere
This list is only 4 pages long.

 
  This section is extracted from Ruins of Desert Cathay

Chapter XXVII - From the Endere Ruins to Charchan

On 8 November Stein continued south east to reach the Endere stupa he had excavated in 1901. His objective was the complete excavations that were left on the previous visit for lack of time. He immediately set his team to work uncovering a buried dwelling and was rewarded by finding more Kharoshthi script on wood and leather. Stein was delighted with the discovery. From his exploration of the Endere fort in 1901 he had proven that it was occupied by a Chinese garrison and then by Tibetans in the 8th century. But he could not reconcile this with Hsuan-tsang's memoir in which the Chinese monk reported that when he passed this site in 645 AD there was nothing but remains of a then ancient and abandoned village. now Stein had his answer - Two ruined villages on the same site but hundreds of years apart in time. The Kharoshthi documents proved the area had indeed been inhabited by the Indo-Scythians from the Oxus (Tukhara) in the 3rd century., abandoned, and then reoccupied shortly after Hsuan-tsang's visit during the T'ang Chinese return to control of the Tarim in the 7th century. Mor Kharosththi documents in other buildings and the ruined stupa were uncovered on 9 November along with Han Dynasty copper coins. Soon Stein's workers found that the 7th century rampart of the Endere fort itself had been built over a deep layer of 3rd century remains. With his new labor team Stein was now able to clear all the remaining buried buildings within the fort. Mean while Stein found more ruins outside the fort, including a large enclosure with a stamped clay wall 30-35 feet thick and 540 feet by 340 feet in circumference and another, smaller fort with walls 8 feet thick. On 13 November Stein paid his Niya workers who delightedly set off on the 4 day trip home. Stein set out eastward on 15 November to Charchan, a 106 mile, 6 day journey. The caravan route lies along the border between the stone glacis from the mountains to the south meets the sand dunes of the desert to the north. Vegetation along the western part of this border is fed by springs that appear when mountain fed rivers flowing under the glacis appear. After the 4th day's travel the vegetation ceases and pure desert appears. On the 5th day there was a very welcome surprise. The Beg of Charchan brought a large delegation of locals including four Pathan merchants out to meet Stein, the famous 'Sahib' from India, with a full Dastarkhan of assorted dishes and beverages. Stein quizzed the Pathan merchants about travel conditions. They all reached Charchan by torch light.

 
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More detail from map sheet # 40 - Endere - showing the location of many ruins Stein found in the desert here.

 
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Detail of map sheet # 40 Endere - showing some of the ruins Stein dug out of the desert sand. The route west to Niya and east to Charchan appears as it crosses the Endere River.

 
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A more detailed view of the east central section of Stein's map. On the south it shows his route east from Niya and Endere to Charchan and then to Miran. It shows his route from Miran to Lou-lan and back. It shows his two routes from Miran-Abdal east - one along the edge of the Lop-nor salt flat north of the Kun-tagh desert and the other through the foothills of the Altin Tagh. Both routes reach Tun-huang. North of Tun-huang is the Han wall along the south side of the Su-lo Ho. From Tun-huang his route goes east to An-hsi and then shows his complex exploration of the eastern Nin-shan south of Su-chou and west of Kan-chou. On the north side it shows his route west from An-hsi to Hami to Khara-shahr and then to Kucha. Stein's method was to explore the desert sites between late November and March and the high mountains between June and October.

 
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The center section of Stein's map of Khotan area - shows Niya river and to the north beyond the river the ancient Niya site he excavated on first and second expeditions. - It showns the Yartungaz river in the center and the Endere River on the east with the Endere ruin. After the second expedition Stein made much more detailed topographic maps.

 
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Detail from Stein's map showing the Niya and Endere areas - also the caravan routes to the east through the desert and along the foothills.

 
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Detail from Stein's maps showing the two routes across the Takla Makan - via the Khotan and Keriya rivers. The sites at Endere, Nkiya, Kara-dong, Mazar-tagh, Rawak stupa are shown.

 
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Detail from map in Ancient Khotan showing area between Yurtung River and Endere River with Endere ruin

 
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Stein's map of Chinese Turkestan - Endere is in desert on the south side of the Takla Makan just north of its edge with the mountains

 
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On this detail of Stein's map Endere is on the southern edge of the Takla Makan just west of the fold in the map - it is shown in red.

 
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Plan of ruined fort at Endere

 
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48 - Ruined building E iii, within Endere fort, seen from south-west

 
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50 - Ruined stupa, Endere site, seen from south-west

 
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51 - Ruined rampart near gateway, Endere fort seen from interior

 
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103 - Interior of Ruined fort of Endere seen from east - In foreground walls of large dwelling, Eiii, excavated in 1901.

 
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104 - Remains of ancient wall on erosion 'witness', Endere site

 
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105 - Ruined tower with remains of wind-eroded dwelling in foreground - Endere site

 
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106 - Ruin of ancient fortified post, near high tamarisk-covered sand cone - Endere site

 
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Plate - Plan of ruined fort at Endere

 
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Plate - plans for several ruined structures at Endere

 
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Plate 20 - Plan for ruined fort of T'ang period at Endere - Stein first found this ruin during his first expedition in 1901 and returned during his second in 1906.

 
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Plan and cross section of ruined stupa at Endere.

 
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Plate - plan of ruined village - Bilel-konghan - near Endere River

 
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Ancient Khotan Vol II, XXXVII - Ruined stupa, Endere Site

 
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Ancient Khotan Vol II XXXVI - Plan of ruined fort, Endere Site - another discovery Stein made during the first expedition to which he returned on later expeditions.

 
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Ancient Khotan 51 - Ruined rampart near gateway, Endere fort, seen from interior

 
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Ancient Khotan 50 - Ruined stupa, Endere site, seen from soutn-west - note the standing man, Stein usually placed someone in the photo to show scale.

 
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Ancient Khotan 49 - Interior of ruined temple cella E. i, Endere fort, seen from east after excavation

 
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Ancient Khotan 48 - Ruined building E. iii, within Endere fort, seen from south-west.

 
     
     
     
     

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