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Stein had heard rumors about the existence of ancient towers and walls in the desert so made finding them a major project for his second expedition.


This is a listing of the towers and structures Sir Aurel Stein found on the ancient Han Dynasty wall - this wall extends from east to west along the Su-lo Ho, mostly on the left, south bank, but on its eastern section on the right, north bank. The towers, however, are numbered more in the order in which Stein visited them, and he first came across the wall toward its western end, on the caravan route to Tun-Huang. Here we list them in Stein's numbering system, more or less in sequence from the western end toward the east. We made rather poor copies of the photos that Sir Aurel provided in the text of his reports. Hopefully, they will give some idea of the remarkable condition of these towers after 2000 years in desert subjected to fierce sand storms.
Even more amazing is that Stein was able to uncover a huge quantity of ancient documents preserved by the exceptional dryness of the climate. He devoted a whole chapter of Serindia to analysis of the Chinese military organization and life along the wall. {short description of image}

He returned to the wall during his third expedition when he continued to find and identify the wall and towers east of the Su-lo Ho as far as the location of the later Ming Dynasty "Great Wall". The results of this expedition are described in Innermostasia. For this summary table I have attempted to include only a summary of Stein's descriptions of the towers and wall. I have left out most of the descriptions of the contents Stein recovered. I strongly recommend the readers study his original reports, especially Serindia and Innermostasia.


Stein also included special maps showing the location of the wall and towers on its western end found during the second expedition and included in Serindia, the report of that expedition.
{short description of image}- The left - western - side of Stein's map of the Han Dynasty wall and towers north of Tun-huang - from tower Tvid to Tiva, Tii, Tiia
{short description of image}- Left-center section of Stein's map of the Han Dynasty wall - Towers Tv, Tiva, Tivb, Tivc. Tiii, Tvii, Tviii, Tixa, Tix, Tx, Txi Txii.
{short description of image} - Central section of Stein's map of the Han Dynasty wall with towers Tx, Txi,Txviiia, Txii, Txiii, Txiv, Txviiib, Txivc, Txix, Txxi, Txva, Txv, Txvi, Txvii, Txxii, Txxi
{short description of image} - Map of central portion of the section of the Han Dynasty wall and towers north of Tun-huang - Towers from Tvid to Txii a and b - Tower Tiva is the famous "Jade Gate' behind the line of the wall - it was the control, customs and immigration station at the location that the caravan route to Lu-lan passed through the wall.
{short description of image} - Detail of eastern section of Stein map of the Han Dynasty wall north of Tun-huang showing the Khara nor lake and Towers Txviiia, Txviiib, Txvii, Txviic, Txxiia, Txviii, txix, Txx, Txxi, Txiib, Txxiic, Txxiid, txxiiia, txxiii
{short description of image} - The eastern section of the map of Sir Aurel Stein's exploration of a section of the Han Dynasty wall north of Tun-huang with Towers from Tix to Txxiii.
The Han wall is also shown in several maps pubished in Innermostasia. These include not only the earlier sections from Serindia but also parts of the wall well to the east surveyed in the third expedition.
Map 35 - Su-lo Ho Delta ({short description of image}, {short description of image}, shows the western end of the wall with towers Ti, Tii, Tiii, Tiv, Tivb, Tivc, Tv, Tvid, Tvic, Tvib, Tvi, Tvii, Tviii, "Tixa, Tix, Tx, Txi, Txii,l Txiia, Txiii, Txiv, Txivx, Txiva, "Txva, Txv, Txvi, txvii. txviia, Txviii (the magazine).
Map 38 Tun Huang ({short description of image}, {short description of image}, {short description of image}, {short description of image}) shows the wall north and north east of the oasis - Txviia, Txviib, Tiv, Txix, Txx, Txxi, Txxiia, Txxiib, Txxiic, Txxiid, Txiie, Txiif, Txiiia, Txiiib, Txiiic, Txiiid, Txiiie, Txiiif, Txiiig, Txiiih, txiiii,k Txiiij, txziiik, txiiil, Txiiim, txiiin,txiiio, Txiiip, Txiiiq, Txiiir, Txiiis, txiiit, Txxx, Txxv, Txxix, Txxviii, txxvii, Txxvi, Txxxii, Txxxiii, Txxxivf, Txxxv, Txxxviia, Txxxviib, Txxxiic, Txxxiid, Txxxiie, Txxxiif, Txxxiig, Txxxiih, Txxxii-i, Txxxiij, Txxxiik, txxxiii and several walled forts and villages.
Map 40 Yu men Hsien - ({short description of image}, {short description of image}, {short description of image}, {short description of image}) shows the wall further east with towers along the Su-lo Ho at P'-ch'eng-tzu and Wang-shan-tzu Txla, Txlb, Txlc - Txlia, Txlib, Txlic, Txlid. Txlie, Txlif, Txlih. Txlij, Txlik, Txlil, Txlim,Txlin, Txlio, Txlip, Txliq, Txlir, Txliia, Txliib, Txliic, Txliid, Txliie, txliif, Txliig, Txliih, txlii-i, txliij, Txliiia, Txliiib, Txliiic, Txliiid, Txliiif, Txliiig, Txliiih, Txliii-i, Txliiij, txliiik, txliiil, txliiim
Map 42 Mao mei ({short description of image}, {short description of image}, {short description of image}, {short description of image}, {short description of image}) shows the wall and towers north and northwest of the oasis on the Etsin-gol. Txliva, Txlivb, Txlivc, Txlivd, Txlva, Txlvb, Txlvc, Txlvd, Txlve, Txlvf, Txlvg, Txlvh, Txlvia, Txlvib, Txlvic, Txlvid, Txlvif, Txlvig, Txlvih, Txlvij, Txlvi-i, Txlvij, Txlvik, Txlvil, Txlvim, Txlviia, Txlviib, Txlviic and various walled towns and forts

  Number Location Description - including sketch plan and/or photograph if any  
  T i Slightly south of Tii on the same plateau Detail of map 74 in Serindia {short description of image}shows location of Towers Ti, Tii and Tiia the first towers Stein came across north of the wall just before he camped at Toghrak bulak. And map 38 of Innermostasia shows all these.  


Tii - north west of the wall on a plateau next to the Su-lo Ho river bed, between it and dry former beds. --

Stein found this one as he approached Tun-huang on the caravan route. It was designed to provide early warning of the approach of anyone coming along the ridge line on the caravan route to and from Lou Lan.



Tiia is further north from Tii on the same plateau and caravan route.

The location enabled the watch to see into an area north of the plateau that was dead ground for someone on tower Tii.

  Tiii This is the next tower east of Tivb directly adjacent to the wall. Tower Tiii is the third tower to the east along the wall on the north edge of a ridge above a jungle between it and the river. The wall went three miles straight to Tvii.

{short description of image}Plan 36 - for watch stations Tiii, Tivb, Tv, and Txix -

{short description of image}Photo 153 from Stein's book - Serindia- Ruin of ancient watch-tower Tiii, near western end of Tun-huang lines - The spot where the first discovery of an early Chinese record on wood was made is marked by the two men in foreground


Implements found by watch towers along the Han wall

{short description of image}Illustrations 173-174 from Stein's book - Serindia - Ancient implements and articles of equipment, excavated mainly from ruined watch towers of early Chinese border line, Tun-huang


Pottery and artifacts found along the wall

{short description of image}Illustration 172 from Stein's book - Serindia- Ancient pottery and implements excavated from ruined watch -stations on Tun-huang limes

  Tiva Tiva is the last tower on the west end of the wall. It is on a plateau south of and over looking the Su-lo-Ho. Fig 190 shows the reed-covered marsh basin in which the Su-lo Ho terminates as seen south of Tiva and shows the beginning of the wall

{short description of image}Photo- 194 -Tiva -from Stein's book - Innermostasia northwest of Tun-huang - there are two unnumbered towers SW between Tiva and Tv. Detail map {short description of image}shows location of Towers Tiva, Tivb, Tivc

  Tivb Tivb is the next to last tower on the Han wall's western end - It is on a plateau south of and over looking the Su-lo-Ho

{short description of image}Plan 36 - for watch stations Tiii, Tivb, Tv, and Txix - It was one of the first towers found south of the Su-lo Ho and adjacent to the wall-

  Tivc Tivc is south of Tiva and Tiii forming the apex of a triangle. It is on another narrow ridge

{short description of image} 181 from Stein's book - Serindia- Ruin of ancient watch-tower Tiv c, on western flank of Tun-huang limes, with view to north - On left an eroded clay terrace with deep-cut Nullah, Across depression with Toghraks and tamarisks is seen in distance an isolated clay terrace bearing remains of ruined watch-tower Tiva

  Tiv North of Tiv is the end of the Su-lo Ho. From Tiv the wall turns south to marsh ground and the line reached the extreme north east corner of the terminal basin of the Su-lo-Ho which was filled with lakes that continue west to 92 degrees 55 min on Map 70 for 300-400 square miles.  
  Tv Tv is the first - easternmost - of the detached watchtowers located south west of the end of the wall. It is on a long, narrow finger ridge jutting northwest between depressions full of toghraks toward the extensive marsh. {short description of image}Plan 36 - for watch stations Tiii, Tivb, Tv, and Txix - Stein determined that this series of six detached, independent watch towers more or less in a line to the south west and each on a significant height were there to provide warning in case an enemy was trying to outflank the wall south of the marsh and river line.  
  Tvi Tvi was located on a conspicuous site on a narrow ridge. Tower Tvi (fig 169) was 18 feet square and 15 feet high made of sun-dried bricks each 15 x 7.5 x 5 inches with layers of reeds between every three courses. Toghrak trunks 13 feet long were embedded in the masonry as vertical supports. And long trunks were fixed horizontally as a frame work inside. There was a staircase on the east side.  
  Tvia Tvia is the next detached watch tower south west of tower Tvi and also on a very narrow finger ridge jutting north west

{short description of image}Photo 180 from Stein's book - Serindia - Ruin of ancient watch tower Tvia on western flank of Tun-huang lines seen from south - The tower is built on an eroded clay ridge, and on right overlooks a depression with Toghraks and reed beds.

Map 74 -detail {short description of image} shows locations of towers Tvia, Tvib, Tvic, Tvid in a line to south west as separate watch towers west of the end of the wall. Special map {short description of image}shows towers Txvi, Txvii, Txviia, Txviib, Txix, Txx, Txxi, Txxiia, Txxiib, Txxiic, Txxiid, Txxiii, Txxiiia
  Tvib Tvib is the next detached watch tower - south west of via

{short description of image}Plan 37 - for two watch towers at far west end of the Han line - actually south west and detached from the wall - Tvib and T vic - Tower Tvib - to cover part of the western end of the line - a watch tower - SW of the end of the front line, but close to it. There were two towers on a mesa behind the line of the wall. The location commanded a view of the marsh and covered the entrance route from the west between the Su-lo Ho ending marsh and the sand dunes to the south. Map 74 - The main tower controlled the wall towers - its base was 21 feet square made of sun-dried bricks 14.5 x 7 x 5 inches with reed layers every few courses. Next to it was a small building for troops quarters and a massive wall.

{short description of image}Photo 182 from Stein's book - Serindia - Remains of ancient watch tower and quarters Tvib - Tun-huang lines before excavation, seen from west

{short description of image}183 from Stein's book - Serindia - Rubbish-strewn slope below ruined watch-tower Tvi b, in course of excavation - The splintered piece of timber held by laborer marks the spot where hundreds of Chinese records on wood, all of 1st century B.C., were discovered close to the surface

  Tvic Tvic is the next detached watch tower - west of vib

{short description of image} Plan 37 - Plan for tower Tvic - It is south west of the end of the wall, next in order - on an isolated mound west of tower Tvib These were outlying signal towers three miles further west on flat top isolated mesas 150 feet above the low ground. The last tower west from Tivb had an unbroken view west and south. It was 20 ft square plus quarters and made of dried bricks each 14.5 x 7 x 5 inches to a height of 16.5 feet. There was a room 7.5 feet square on the top also unusually well preserved. The adjacent quarters contained an anti-room along the south wall of the tower.

{short description of image}Photo 181 from Stein's book - Serindia - Ruin of ancient watch tower Tivc - on western flank of Tun-huang lines with view to north - On left an eroded clay terrace with deep-cut Nullah. Across depression with Toghraks and tamarisks is seen in distance an isolated clay terrace (A) bearing remains of ruined watch tower T iva.

  Tvid Tvid is the last of the series of detached watch towers - a considerable distance south and west of vic Tower Tvid - was 20 ft. square standing on a small hill and 30 ft high. The top was 13 x 14 foot brick parapet. This was the furthermost watch tower at the end of the limes.  
  Tvii Tvii is almost due east of Tiii across a depression and on a gravel plateau where there is a slight break in the wall before it continues east to Tviii.

{short description of image} Photo 204 from Innermostasia - The next (4th) Watch tower - Tvii - east and across a ravine from Tiii, -note how this shows the construction method - layers of reeds or branches between layers of clay - Note the pairs of holes for use with a rope in climbing to top. It really is amazing that such a tower could remain in even this condition after 2000 years of steady assault by wind-driven sand. The wall here runs due west from Tvii on top of a narrow plateau. Stein describes tower Tvii to which he returned along the wall after first sighting it on his first way to Tun-huang. (Plate 38 - photo 168) The tower was 23 feet square made of bricks 14 x 7-8 x 4-5 inches. And it had been white washed and plastered. The quarters next to the tower had 13 coats of white slip of AD 8. The Jade Gate at tower Txiv had none west of it later than Wang Mang in AD 9-23, which Stein believed meant the western end of the wall may have been abandoned then.

  Tviii Tviii is east of Tvii on the wall with remains on both sides, in the center of a wide plateau - the 5th tower to the east

{short description of image} Plan 38 - Plan for towers Tviii and Txii -

{short description of image} Photo 171 from Stein's book - Serindia- Guard-room built against north-east corner of ancient watch tower T viii, Tun-huang limes, after excavation - On left is seen the narrow gate leading into the quarters of the watch station, with sockets to hold bars of door; on adjoining wall surface the rough outline sketch of a camel; on extreme right steps of stairs once leading to roof of quarters and thence to top of tower.

  Tvix Tvix is directly east of Tviii on the right edge of the same plateau- From there the wall goes straight north east to Tx    
  Tix Tower ix was the best preserved of all the watch towers. It was located on a knoll 60 feet above the steep eastern edge of a gravel plateau. It had a view west and east but not such a good view to the north due to dead ground nearby. Here the wind driven sand from the east could not attack the tower, so there was less erosion. The area was not easily viewed from Tviii or T ix due to the deep clay terraces.

{short description of image} Photo 173 from Stein's book - Innermostasia - ancient watch tower T ix on the Han Dynasty wall north of Tun-huang
{short description of image} The same photo is 170 from Stein's book - Serindia- Ruined watch tower Tix,

  Tixa Tixa, north of a Nullah 2.5 miles from Tviii Stein returned from the SW to visit Tixa - an outlying picket watch station north of the wall. Tixa was 18 ft sq of bricks 18 x 9 x 4.5 inches with reed layers between every 5th brick course. The tower was enclosed by small defense wall 34 yards square. The wall from Tix north east is discussed in Chapter XIV.  
  Tx Tx is near an end of the wall where it meets a significant depression Tower Tx (fig 174) The wall continues to the edge of salt lake. Here the line extends east to Khora-nor Lake across marshes and small lakes south of the Su-lo-Ho. The section of the wall and towers Tx - Txvii show excellent engineering to make the wall and towers conform to the terrain and make maximum advantage of natural obstacles. The line was far north of the convoy - caravan - route between Lop and Tun-huang. The terrain was a very complex mix of marsh and depressions and gravel ridges and gravel plateaus like a coast line with tongues between bays and inlets. (plate 33).

{short description of image}174 from Stein's book - Serindia - Ruined watch- tower Tx, Tun-huang limes, seen from south-east

  Txi Txi is the next tower to the east on an isolated hill amid a complex terrain feature with depressions all around. It is in detached location on a knoll over looking the marsh. It is half a mile from the lake.

{short description of image}photo 178 from Stein's book - Innermostasia - Ancient watch tower Txi on the Han Dynasty wall near Tun-huang

Figures 193 and 198 show stacks of reed fascines near watch towers Txi and Txiii.- plate 33. North of Txi the plateau is cut by two ravines. To the east part of the wall remains toward the marsh. The tower is decayed. It is 16 ft high, and probably was 24 feet square. The layers are made of clay lumps 2 feet thick. There is a guard room on top. The west base side has a small room 21 x 12 feet with clay walls. There is an outer enclosure wall 75 feet in diameter. The marsh east of Txi cannot be crossed. The wall, again, appeared on the edge of the marsh toward Txiia - fig 177. North of Txi the plateau is cut by two ravines. Part of the wall to the east goes to the marsh. The tower is decayed due to water.



{short description of image}Plans for watch stations Txia, T xxiiif, Txxiiil at the Han Dynasty wall north of Tun huang

  Txii Txii is east and slightly to the south of Txi also amid complex terrain - no wall is found between these two towers. It was on the southern end of a gravel ridge next to a wide marsh depression with a bog on each side of Txiia. Here the caravan route to Lop and Lou lan passes on the south side of Txii.

{short description of image} Plan 38 - Plan for towers Tviii and Txii -
{short description of image}Photo 181 from Stein's book - Innermostasia- Ancient watch tower Txii on the Han Dynasty wall north of Tun-huang -
{short description of image}Photo 169 from Stein's book - Serindia - Ruined watch tower Txii, on ancient Chinese Han wall, northwest of Tun-huang

The map {short description of image}74 (D3) shows tower Txii well placed to guard this route and watch traffic and customs - immigration post and border control like the modern fort at Chia-yu kuan at Su-chou. The remains of Txii are plate 38. The broken tower is 21 feet square and 18 feet tall built of bricks 15 x 8 x 5 inches. Layers or reeds placed between every 3 courses of bricks. There was an out building next to the tower. There was marsh east of Txii and deep northward. Tower Txii was a road side post not part of the wall defense itself.
  Txiia Txiia is north west of Txii and east north east of Txi on another mesa

{short description of image}Plan 39 - Watch tower Txiia and layout of piles of fascines
{short description of image}Photo 177 from Stein's book - Serindia - Ruined watch tower T xiia - with remains of adjoining quarters and stairs, Tun-huang lines

South east of Tower Txiia 3/4 mile on an adjoining segment of wall is tower Txii (fig 181). Tower Txiia is decayed - 8 feet high and 23 feet square of sun-dried bricks each 17 x 8 x 5 inches with reeds between every 3 brick courses. There are quarters next to it and many fragments. The southern end of a gravel ridge next to a wide marsh depression bog on each side of Txiia. The watch tower was far from the line of the wall. The line of the wall again near Txiia was on opposite side of the marsh for 2 miles to Txiii (fig 180) - It showed some damage - there were quarters next to it made of the same bricks - 23 feet square and 24 feet high. The wall had plaster where it was preserved by debris. Plate 38 shows rooms 13 x 8. Fig 180 shows excavation and stairs to the roof of the quarters. Toghrak wood was in stairs. The line of the wall appeared again near Txiia on the opposite side of the marsh 2 miles from Txiii (fig 180) Its wall had plaster where preserved by debris.


Next to Kara-nor

Having excavated at the towers toward the western end of the wall in 1907, Stein focused on the towers next to the Kara-nor lake further east starting with tower Txiid. Starting with that tower Stein moved along the southern shore of Khara-nor.

  Txiii Txiii is mid way along the wall due east of Txiia across this plateau. At the eastern end of the plateau the wall shifts to the north east across broken terrain to Txivb. From the top of Txiii one can see all the watch towers from Txi to Txix and could at night see signal fires much further - probably from Tix to Txxii or 30 miles.

{short description of image}Photo 180 from Innermostasia - Ancient watch tower Txiii with quarters Fig 180 shows excavation and stairs to the roof of the quarters made of Toghrak wood.
{short description of image}Plate 38 - from Stein's book Serindia - Plan of tower Txiii part of the Han wall complex. It shows rooms 13 x 8 feet.
{short description of image}175 from Stein's book - Serindia - Stretch of ancient border wall, built of layers of reed fascines and clay, east of tower Txiii, Tun-huang limes

East of Txiii the ground dips into a depression 15 feet below. The wall is well preserved
{short description of image}176 from Stein's book - Serindia - Remains of ancient border wall adjoining salt marsh, to west of tower Txiva, Tun-huang limes, seen from south. The wall for 200 yards is 10-11 feet high. Next to this wall is another depression track made by foot patrols.

  Txiv Txiv is a larger fortress building - the "Jade Gate" - located back from the wall but directly on the caravan route that goes east there. A cross wall to the south starts here. Stein found a second line of wall from north of Txiv passing close by to the west and continuing S-SE toward Nan -hu. This wall was only 5 feet wide and starts SW on the edge of the marsh south of Txv and Txva. Due south across gravel - to the west of the fort it went 3.5 miles on to a watch tower (plate 40). The secondary wall connected Txiv to Nan -hu and its Yang barrier.
This detail of map 74 {short description of image}shows Txiv as a fort rather than tower, well back from the wall - shows towers from Tvii on the west to Txvii on the east

Tower Txiv (fig 152) plate 34 was 26 feet square, 20 feet tall with a room on top and appeared to be more recently built. But the main control was at Yu-men tower Txiv. The reason Txiv was placed here (fig 179 - 183) was it was on top of a neck of raised ground like an isthmus across the depression. The fort is massive in construction - at Txiv thick walls of stamped clay. (fig 183 - 184 - plate 40). An opening in the middle of the north wall is 13 feet wide but it was not the real entrance which is on the west wall and only 8 feet wide. The interior is 54 ft square. Stein identified this as the "Jade Gate" or one location for it, as it was moved at various times to suit contemporary needs.

{short description of image}Plan 40 - Local site plan and tower plan for tower Txiv and local site plan for tower Txva. Tower Txiv is located south of Txiva on a ridge - Stein identifies this as the famous "Jade Gate"

{short description of image}Photo 183 from Stein's book - Innermostasia - Ancient fort Txiv at "Jade Gate' on the Han Dynasty wall near Tun-huang - Stein spent quite a bit of effort and analysis on determining which of the towers and forts corresponded to the famous "Jade Gate' described in Han documents. This was the customs and immigration station adjacent to the wall that controlled merchant entrance and exit. Since jade was the most famous valuable coming into China from the Khotan region the customs place received this nick name.
{short description of image} Photo 154 from Stein's book - Serindia - Ruin of ancient Chinese fort Txiv, marking the position of the "Jade Gate" seen from north-east
{short description of image}Photo 184 - Ancient fort Txiv - the Jade Gate on the Han Dynasty wall north of Tun-huang - gate is in west wall -
{short description of image}Photo 179 from Stein's book - Serindia- Hillock with remains marking position of ancient 'Jade Gate' station near fort Txiv Tun-huang limes.

  Txiva Built on a clay terrace overlooking the depression at which the wall terminated. (fig 194)

{short description of image}Plan 39 - Plan for the ruined towers Txiva, Txvi on the Han wall west of Tun-huang
{short description of image}Photo 176 from Stein's book - Serindia - Remains of ancient Han wall adjoining salt march to west of tower T xiva- Tun-huang lines seen from south The wall reappeared on the NE edge of a marsh SW to NE across the plateau. Tower Txiva was on a ridge where the wall crosses the ridge and was 50 yards from the western slope of the ridge and 15 feet high and 24 feet square made of the same kind of bricks. (fig 188 - Plate 39). There was a room on top 8 feet square.

  Txivb Txivb is located north of Txiv on the edge of a steep ridge - the wall shifts direction to north east to tower Txv    
  Txivc Txivc is located well south of the Han wall but next to another wall that runs south from Txiv    
  Txv Txv is located adjacent to the wall - across a depression from Txivb The wall between Txv and Txvii is a continuous link with notable ruins in this part. At Txv the ruined tower on a small hill 20 feet high at the east end of a basin was brick as usual 19 feet high with a small room adjacent. From Txv the wall was traced but was low across gravel plateau to Txiv for 1.5 miles. This one was on southern edge of a dry basin with a good view north and east. It was built of sun-dried bricks 14 x 7 x 4.5 inches with reeds laid between each 3 courses. The height was 13 feet (plate 39) and it was 24 feet square. There was a 8 foot square guard room at the top. 50 yards south east there were stacks of reeds for signaling. There were 10 inscribed slips and records in the room dated from AD 68 to 77 plus one of 86-74 BC.  



{short description of image}Plate 40 - Site plan for ruined station Txva on the Han wall west of Tun-huang

  Txvi Txvi is a short distance east from Txv also adjacent to the wall

{short description of image}Plan 39 - Plan for the ruined tower Txvi

From Txvi the wall went on gravel terrace and shallows to Txvii at the western edge of a basin crossed by the Su-lo-Ho with lakes and marshes. This tower was 22 feet square of the same brick but broken at 10 feet height. There were quarters next to it. Refuse records were dated 58 BC. The wall then continued east into the marsh a mile away to remains of a broken tower Txviia on a small hill 50 feet high. Then a lagoon of 3 miles to Txix with bogs to the north. 4 miles long by 2 miles wide. (Fig 186). The river was overlooked by Tower Txviii.
  Txvii Txvii is the next tower east of Txvi at an end of the wall as it reaches a depression    
  Txviia Txviia is on an isolated hill north east of Txvii north of the general line of the wall which is not found in this section    
  Txviii Txviii is on the edge of a plateau south east of Txiia but no wall is shown here.

{short description of image}Photo 182 from Stein's book - Innermostasia - North west corner of enclosure of ancient magazine Txviii near the Han Dynasty wall north of Tun-huang
{short description of image}Photo 186 - Ruins of ancient magazine Txviii - the large magazine building that served as granary and arms depot for the defense line
{short description of image}Plate 41 -Txviii - Plan of the large building that Stein identified as the local military magazine for supply to the troops along the western end of the Han Dynasty line.
Stein found a high structure just behind the line of the wall between Txvii and Txix. This wall was 560 feet east to west with three large halls each 139 feet by 48.5 feet inside and an adjoining length wise face ran 5.5 feet thick. The building was on the northern edge of a clay ridge separated by 65 feet wide cut and all 15 feet above the adjacent ground. The building walls were still 25 feet high with no large windows, instead there were triangular openings 3 feet high in one row level with the floor and another at 14-15 feet up on the wall. These were used for ventilation. The right side shows the least damaged section of the enclosure. There were SW towers - left of fig 186 20 feet high. A NW tower is in fig 182. Plate 41 is a plan of the building and it shows 3 towers with traced walls built within the inner enclosure. These were posts to guard the contents - not to protect from outside. Besides the inner enclosure the remains of two mounds parallel to the south and north walls - the northern one 80 feet outside and the southern one 100 yards away. There was no trace of east- and west walls. Only one wood record dated 52 BC was found. Stein believed this was likely a granary as there were several records about grain release and several written works of the T'ang era mention this place. The location of the magazine was secure by a wide marsh north so no wall was needed

{short description of image}Photo 156 from Stein's book - Serindia- Ruins of ancient Chinese magazine Txviii, on Tung-huang lines seen from south.

  Txviiia Txviiia - These two towers are located far south of the wall in the middle of desert Detail of map sheet 78 {short description of image}shows towers Txviiia and Txviiib on Stein's route back northwest from Tun-huang at approx 94 degrees 7' E and 40 degrees 5' N - just north of a ruined temple.  
  Txviiib Txviiib is south of but adjacent to Txviiia    
  Txix Txix is the next tower east and a bit north from Txviia across marshy ground - the wall begins here to Txx a short distance at the east edge of the ridge. It was at a naturally strong point at the northern end of a steep ridge with full view of the depression of the Su-lo Ho.

{short description of image} Plate 36 - Plan for ruined watch station tower Txix -. It was made of the usual bricks, 22 feet square with a guard room at the top 8 feet square and on the eastern side a room full of much refuse including a label for a bag of 100 bronze arrow heads. To the east the Limes reappeared on firm ground between the marsh and a lake 3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. The gap between the marsh and lake was 1 mile wide but had 2 watch towers, Txix and Txx, and a connecting wall (fig 190) on top of an isolated steep clay hill 100 feet high. (plate 33)

  Txx Txx is close to Txix and on the edge of the plateau directly overlooking the river marsh - The caravan route passes close to the south of these towers, but no wall was found here. {short description of image} Photo 190 from Stein's book - Innermostasia Watch tower Txx was a ruin. along the wall 3/4 mile toward the lake on a hill north east at the end of a mesa 70 feet high. It was of brick 13 feet high with adjacent rooms in which many wooden records were found. The wall seen at NE end of the clay ridge on which Txx was located and the wall went to the edge of the lake - a good barrier -.There was no wall on the south shore for 7 miles.

{short description of image} 178 from Stein's book - Serindia - Remains of ancient watch-tower Txx, overlooking lake west of Khara-nor, Tun-huang limes

  Txxi Txxi is the next tower east, located on lower ground adjacent to the river. But the watch towers from Txxi to Txxia were on high mesas. Txxi was decayed tower at western end of the top of a steep clay ridge 80 feet above the depression. It was north of the caravan track and 3 miles SE of Txxd. Txxi had 10 feet height remaining made of bricks 17 x 8 x 5 inches. There were two apartments on the east side. Three miles ENE from Txxi on top of a small clay rise 80 feet high was ruin of Txxiia built of clay clods and Toghrak twigs - 13 feet high with no remaining quarters.  


The line of towers along the Su-lo Ho and south side of Kara-nor. Special map {short description of image}shows towers Txvi, Txvii, Txviia, Txviib, Txix, Txx, Txxi, Txxiia, Txxiib, Txxiic, Txxiid, Txxiii, Txxiiia

Map 78 shows Tun-huang and the area directly north as far as the Su-lo Ho and Kara-nor with Stein's routes between these and the towers along the river and lake.{short description of image}

  Txxiia Txxiia is located half way between Txxi and Txxiib on open ground south of the river. with no wall on either side. Detail of map 78 {short description of image}shows the Kara-nor lake and areas west and east with Towers Txxiib, Txxiic, Txxiid  
  Txxiib Txxiib is located on the edge of a plateau with short wall section east to Txxiic Going around the edge of the marsh NE Stein found firm ground (map 78 A3) and the north end of a well marked plateau spur from the Kuruk-tagh natural barrage that holds up the Su-lo Ho in the Khara-nor basin. The barrage was 2 miles wide. The river here was fordable and the line of the wall crossed the barrage from the western shore of Khara-nor to a wide marsh on the other side. But the line of the wall here was much ruined, only barely seen between towers Txxiib and Txxiic. The wall was 1.5 miles south of the Su-lo Ho. Tower Txxiib was decayed brick, 13 feet high, on a 20 foot high hill. One of the wooden records recovered here dated from AD 12.  
  Txxiic Txxiic is located at the western edge of Kara-nor lake - short wall section west but no wall to its east - It is 3/4 mile east of Txxiib on a 90 foot high ridge. It commanded a wide view across and along the lake - towers T xxiiic and Txxiiie being visible. Where ever the Chinese engineers could count on the lake or a wide marsh-bed to prevent raiders they economized on wall building and spaced the towers only to provide distant observation. The wall could be traced for 10 miles. directly east from Tower xxii c to tower xxiii b. Tower Txxiic was at the highest point on an isolated clay ridge away from the shore of the Khara-nor. The ruin was built of stamped clay and layers of reeds but decayed down to a height of only 10 feet. It was 14 feet square and 9 feet high on which was the remains of a 6 foot square room. The tower was built of sun-dried bricks 14 x 7 x 4 inches with reed layers between every 5th course. Stein found two dozen records and silk there. The earliest record was a daily unit duty roster mentioning guard, cooking, making bricks and the like. Looking from Txxiic across the Khara-nor to the east Stein could see only Txxiid about 5 miles away on the southern shore. This ended his visit as he had to return to Tung-huang. From Txvii to Khora-nor at Txxiic was 18 miles - all south of the Su-lo Ho.  
  Txxiid Txxiid is located right on the southern edge of Kara-nor lake midway east About the middle of the length of the lake shore there was a prominent ridge which reduced the width of the lake but also provided a high plateau. There were three watch towers T xxii d to f within a distance of 2 miles. Tower Txxii d (fig 199) is on eroded clay about 80 feet above the marsh to the west. The tower was 16 feet square and even ruined remained 9 feet high. (See plate 13 below). It was built of sun dried brocks 14 x 7.5 inches and 4 inches thick. There were thin layers of straw between every fourth course of bricks. Adjacent to it were the remains of three rooms one of which likely was used as a stove to heat the others. The tower provided an usual mass of refuse from which Stein obtained Chinese documents including one dated 16 December 47 AD. signed by Tsung-min and Shou-kuan, the former was from the P'o-hu of the barrier, likely the name of a section of the wall  


Between Txxiid and Txxiif on the southern shore of Kara-nor lake.

Similar to Txxiif - see Plate 13 below



Less than a mile north east of T xxiie with a belt of erosion terraces curving around from Txxiii. It had a full view of the lake shore. There was no wall for the next 5 miles eastward along the lake shore. But the gap between Txxiif and Txxiib was not completely unguarded. There were two small towers, Txxiii and Txxiiia at the end of the plateau adjacent to the lake.

Txxiif was 16 feet square at the base with a guard room at a height of 8 feet being 7 feet square. There was an entrance through the narrow passage in the south-east corner.
{short description of image} Photo 202 - Refuse heap below watch tower T xxiif - - Note the man barely visible in this poor photo. Stein was always looking for refuse dumps as they contained so many written documents as well as other articles from Chinese daily life.

{short description of image}Plate 13 from Stein's book - Innermostasia - Plans for watch stations Txxiif, Txxiid, Txxiie, Tiva at the Han Dynasty wall north west of Tun-huang

  Txxiii Txxiii is located far south east of Txxiid on the caravan route but not near the line of the wall - but there is no wall to the north because the Kara-nor lake is there. However, he found two more towers - Txxiii and Txiiia - to the south on the way to Tung-huang, at the northern end of a plateau toward the Khara-nor while skirting around the south shore. Txxiii was on a narrow, steep crest 110 feet above the plain with a good view north and east. From there he could see Txxiid. Txxiii was 16 feet square and only 10 feet high made of lumps of clay and fascines of wood between each 5 layers.  
  Txxiiia Txxiiia is located about 150 yards north and down the ridge from Txxiii Txxiiia was lower down. It overlooks the caravan route as it wound around the ridge in a defile and then went due west toward Yu-men and southeast toward Tung-huang. The tower was made of bricks 14 x 7 x 4 inches and reed straw and was 16 feet square, 8 feet high, with a guard room on top  
  Txxiiib About 2.5 miles ENE of Tower T xxiiia is another tower Txxiiib on an eroded ridge 50 feet high. The line of the wall here is much eroded coming from T xxiiic to the east. T xxiiib is 16 feet square and 13-14 feet high built of bricks 14 x 7 x 4 inches. The line of the wall was designed with careful purpose to supplement the natural defenses of the river and to save labor in construction and in the effort of guards. (plate 33). Stein shows the topography including the coastline of the depression to the north from erosion. The marsh was quite impassable for horses or camels. Towers were on commanding ground - Tx to Txvii over an 18 mile stretch. The wall was on each section of firm ground and able to be passed at the edge of the marsh. The engineers used all the natural obstacles. . Two sections - Txix - Txx and Txxiib - Txxiic .The group of towers Txxiiib to Rxxiiig and the wall connecting stretches of ridges was found to be marshy on March 20-22. Fragments of tapestry and rug were found here. The wall here extended through the depression and right up the side of the mesa. It was then extended round the end of the mesa.

{short description of image}Plans for watch station Txxiiib and section of cross wall - Txxiiic - at the Han Dynasty wall north west of Tun-huang far to the rear (south) of the wall on the caravan track from the south toward the wall



Almost a mile and half due east of T xxiiib is a 90-foot high mesa on which is tower Txxiiic

T xxiii c is a well preserved tower built of layers of stamped and 14.5 feet square at its base. It remained intact to a height of 15 feet. The eastern face of the tower showed foot-holes flanked on either side by smaller holes intended to afford a grip for persons climbing to the top. On the northern side there adjoined a room about 13 feet square with walls built of brick and about 1 foot, 8 inches thick. The wall facing to the north stood to 8 feet height but that to the west was much broker and that to the east practically destroyed from the prevailing east wind.
From the northwest corner of this tower the Han wall was 8 feet thick and turned to the south-west toward a knoll as high as that of the tower but steeper. The knoll was a natural defense on which the wall had a gap of 30 feet. Past this the wall was built of bricks of 14 x 7 x 4 inches and was 3 feet thick. The wall continued down the far side over a steep slope for 27 more feet. This Stein noted was the only section of the wall that he found built of brick masonry. Beyond that stretch the wall was again built of reed fascines and clay toward the south-west for a further 90 feet, then turned west-north-west toward tower Txxiiib.
{short description of image}Plate from Stein's book - Innermostasia - Plans for watch stations Txxiiic, Txxiiib at the Han Dynasty wall.

The area by the tower on the high knoll was covered with much pottery debris showing lengthy occupation. From the usual refuse Stein found Chinese records on wood and various small objects including two bronze arrow heads. Tower Txxiii c had a fragment of a calendar dated year 4 B.C.



From tower Txxiii c the decayed wall went south-east towards a 100 foot high mesa at a distance of a mile. Over this distance the wall was nothing but an earthen mound. On that mesa was a completely decayed tower Txxiii d.



A mile and half south of Txxiid but outside the line of the wall.

It guarded the lake shore which could not be seen from tower Txxiii c. But boggy ground prevented Stein from reaching Txxiii e. That tower served an important purpose in covering an angle section of wall. While the guard on Txxiii c could not see the close area under the edge of the mesa he could see very widely at a long distance to the north-east to where the Su-lo-Ho joined by branches of the Tang-ho entered Khara-nor.



At tower Txxiii d the wall turned ENE for another mile to another clay ridge on which at 35 feet above the adjacent terrain there was tower Txxiii f (fig 202).

This was built of lumps of clay with layers of thin Toghrak branches between them. It was 14 feet square at the base and remained to a height of 16 feet. The ridge had been widened by a built up area of a clay platform. About 6 feet from the tower was a well, 3 feet in diameter.



From tower Txxiii f the wall turned to the south-east for another 7 miles, but at less than a mile was tower Txxiii g on a 30 foot high terrace.

Station Txxiii g was a tower with a chamber 7 feet square between thick walls of bricks but broken down to only 5 feet high. The entrance was on the south-at corner. The Han wall passed at a distance of about 20 feet to the north.



A mile further the wall passed another isolated clay terrace about 15 feet high that formerly had held another tower, but only pottery remained. The wall continued for another 2 miles across depressions full of reeds. The wall was again found on another hill - with Tower Txxiii h (plan 16).

This one had a base of 16 feet square and was built of bricks 14 x 7 x 4 inches to a height of 11 feet. The upper portion had a guard room 8 feet square.


Txxiiii, Txxiiij, and Txxiiik

Over the next mile Stein found three more watch towers T xxiii i, j, and k along the wall. These were all built like T xxiii h.

But Stein did not have time to excavate those three towers on 22 March.



The next tower to Txxiiih

From tower Txxiii l Stein had to move rapidly onward due to shortage of water. But T xxiii l was a brick tower of the same dimensions and appearance as the others. The guard room was 6 feet square. entered by a narrow passage on the south (plan 14). It was full of refuse to 4 feet deep. Stein recovered over 2 dozen Chinese documents on wood. A refuse heap was also found outside in which there were an additional 3 dozen records


Txxiiim, Txxiiin, Txxiiio, Txxiiip, Txxiiiq,Txxiiir, Txxiiis

Seven more towers in the same general direction.

Stein continued on and reached decayed towers Txxiii m and n. each 3/4 mile apart. The wall continued toward the south-east. Stein noted the towers were not in a straight line, which he guessed might be due to enabling visibility of each tower if they were not right behind each other. Beyond these the wall disappeared in marshy terrain. Further on was tower Txxiii o on the end of a low terrace. Its bricks remained to a height of 15 feet. The wall continued over gravel past low mounds remaining of towers Txxiii p and Txxiii r to the east to tower Txxiii s. But Tower Txxiii q remained to a height of 12 feet. Txxiii s was 17 feet high and both were of usual brick masonry - the former had reeds between every 2 courses and the latter had them between every 5 courses.


Txxiiit, Txxiiiu, Txxiiiv

Tower Txxiiit was to the east-south-east about a mile and half away. The direct route was blocked by a sheet of water and a bog

They continued next to marshes and found two more towers. One was named Txxiii u and measured 29 feet square at the base. It was likely meant as a refuge place for local farmers. It was old but not part of the Han wall defenses. The wall probably continued east from Txxiii t to join the section Stein had explored in 1907 to Txxx. The second, smaller, tower was even more recent. Stein continued on to the high walls of Tun-huang.

  Txxiv   Txxiv (map 78 - D3). It was made of quarried clay blocks and was 20 feet square and 18 feet high.  
  Txxv North of Tun-huang

{short description of image}Plan 34 - for towers Txxv, Txxvii, and Txxix

{short description of image}Photo 162 from Stein's book - Serindia - Ruined watch-tower T xxv, seen from south-west

  Txxvi   Watch tower Txxvi (fig 150) was 25 feet tall, 20 feet square, and made of hard clay interlayed with thin layers of brush wood.  



{short description of image}Plate 34 - Plan for ruined watch station tower T xxvii - part of the Han wall complex.

{short description of image} Photo 164 from Stein's book - Serindia- Remains of ancient watch tower Txxvii, Tun-huang limes - The ruin stands on a natural clay terrace of which the continuation is seen at right- Naik Ram Singh is in foreground.


{short description of image}Plate 34 - Plans for ruined watch station towers Txxix and Txxv - part of the Han wall complex.


{short description of image}Photo 163 from Stein's book - Serindia- Face of ancient border wall, near Tun-huang showing construction of alternate layers of stamped clay and reeds.


Wall west of An-hsi

Stein had to avoid treacherous terrain in several locations created by underground drainage from the Nan-shan emerging to create salt-bogs. He continued, hurrying to reach water. Finally he found the evidence of the wall, in a straight line of low ridge only 3-4 feet high but clearly man made.

The next morning Stein turned back south-west to find the wall. They found the low but straight mound when practically falling on it. It was about 4 feet high but 32 feet wide.

  Txxxi Along a long west to east stretch of the low salt bogs parallel to the Su-lo-Ho. Towers Txxxi and Txxxv. He repeatedly complemented the Han engineers for maximum use of terrain and topography both to enhance the strength of sections of wall and also to enable them to skip sections where the river and marshes would prevent incursions.  
  Towers near An-hsi West of An-hsi near the route from Tun-huang
Detail of Map 81 of the area around An-hsi shows the towers and section of wall Stein found west of town {short description of image}in order west to east they are Txxx, Txxix, Txxviii, Txxvii, txxvi, Txxxi, Txxxiii, Txxxiv, Txxxv - but Txxxv is closest to the river- and this detail shows the relation of this section to An-hsi{short description of image}
Stein departed Tun-huang toward An-hsi with the objective of locating more of the Han wall than he had found in 1907. Stein moved north to find the wall. He planned to start at tower T xxxv where he had stopped in 1907.Stein had already found traces of the Han wall to 35 miles west of An-hsi. On June 20th he found two more old towers - one 4 miles SW of An-hsi was 18 feet high and 14 feet square, like the others. Here he found Han era pottery. The second tower was a mile east and 22 feet high with 17 feet square base. The line of the wall was visible toward the east. He revisited An-hsi in October 1907. There the wall intersects the road from Tun-huang to An-hsi with 5 small towers, likely stations for reception of visiting officials. To the east the wall disappeared, but there was one more watch tower, 8 feet high and 5 feet in diameter.  
  Txxxv On the stretch of low bogs parallel to Su-lo Ho, The wall east of tower Txxxv

{short description of image}Photo 165 from Stein's book - Serindia - Remains of ancient border wall, between low dunes, east of tower Txxxv, Tun-huang limes - The Chinese laborer on left stands on surface of low gravel mound.
This detail shows the location of the dunes relative to the line of wall and towers.{short description of image}


An-hsi details

Detail of the area adjacent to the town.

Maps showing An-hsi and the short section of wall Stein found close to it.{short description of image} This detail shows An-hsi, two ruined old fortified towns, a section of the wall and four un-numbered towers{short description of image}



Near An-hsi - Stein had to avoid treacherous terrain in several locations created by underground drainage from the Nan-shan emerging to create salt-bogs. He continued, hurrying to reach water. Finally he found the evidence of the wall, in a straight line of low ridge only 3-4 feet high but clearly man made.

They found a mound that was all that remained of a tower designated Txxxvii a. The construction here was inferior to that Stein found further west. But there were no signs of ruined watch towers further west.



Near An-hsi - to the south

Turning east Stein followed the wall and found that it rose to a height of 9 and 12 feet in alternating layers of clay and brush wood. There were sections that evidenced efforts to burn the wall. A mile east they found another decayed mound designated Txxxvii b.


Txxxviic, Txxxviid, Txxxviie

Near An-hsi - south - east of Txxxviia

At another half mile they found another tower Txxxvii c built of stamped clay. This one had a remaining square base 20 feet but most of the northern and eastern faces were decayed. The remaining height reached 14 feet. The wall continued to the east with a height of 6 to 8 feet composed of layers of brushwood. The next watch tower was reached after 2 more miles. This one, Txxxvii d was only a mound, but the wall made its usual semi-circle to the north around it at a distance of 50 yards. Further the wall continued in a direction of S 97 degrees E. They found another decayed tower Txxxvii e and then stopped for the night in order to find the camp that had been set up by the river.



Along the wall southwest of An-hsi - in same series as above listing.

They found another tower, Txxxvii f that had a height of 18 feet and was 18 feet square at the base. Its construction was unusual, being formed of an outer casing of stamped clay with an interior of natural clay. Wooden beams had been fixed into square holes cut into the natural clay and then the stamped clay had been built up around these beams. There was evidence of signal fires having been set on the top. No significant refuse was found.


Line of the wall

Stein returned to the line of the wall, south of the river. Its location puzzled Stein. He could not find a clear trace to the south-west toward tower Txxxvii e. Stein searched all around and finally found the Han wall again a mile and half to the east-south-east of Txxxvii f.

But at this location he found two lines of wall about 90 yards apart. These then united a half mile to the southeast at Txxxvii h, a decayed tower. Stein decided that the two segments had been built to rectify the defense near a pre-existing dike that was evident joining them. He considered this more evidence of the hasty and relatively poor construction methods employed for this section of the wall.


Txxxviih, Txxxvii-i

At Txxxvii i the line of the wall took a sharp turn to the north-east. After another mile there was another clay mound remanent of a tower. Then the line continued in the same direction for another mile and quarter to another ruin Txxxvii k.

From tower Txxxvii h the wall continued for a mile and half to Txxxvii i. This tower was also nothing but a mound of clay. But 30 yards west of it and within the wall here was the remains of a small cell in better condition. This was 6 feet 3 inches square with masonry walls to a height of 2-3 feet. The bricks were 9 x 6 x 4 inches. This appeared to be a small shrine.



The wall rose to a height of 6 to 8 feet in places. From T xxxvii k the wall turned due east toward a large tower some mile away. This one appeared new, but might have been built from an earlier tower. Along this stretch the wall was again different.

It was two narrow walls of earth and fascines about 6 feet apart with the space between filled with loose earth. All this section had been decayed by moisture. By this time Stein had reached cultivated ground at Erh-kung. Further east they could find only a short section of decayed wall amid the cultivated area so abandoned the search and proceeded to An-hsi.


Txxxviiia to Txxxviiic

South east of An-hsi

Further on they found again the series of towers Txxxviii a to c that they had found near An-hsi in 1907. ( tower Txxxviii a, shown in Fig 215 and described in Serindia.)


There is a break between Stein's 2nd expedition finds of Han wall near Ansi and his 3rd expedition more detailed finds of the wall north of Su-chou. The narrative changes from 2nd to 3rd expedition.

Detail from map 83 showing the Su-lo Ho and sections of the wall south of it toward the west and then north of it toward the east.{short description of image} and {short description of image}



The defile through which the Su-lo Ho forces its way west is between offshoots of the Pei-shan to the north and outer ridges of the Nan-shan to the south. At this point the main high road to the south of the river crosses a ridge 200 feet above the river. There, not surprisingly, it is guarded by two Chinese fort towers.

Now Stein found a tower Txl a near the river and almost opposite the two modern towers on the other side. (plan 14)


Txla - Yxxiiif - Txxiiil


{short description of image}Plate 14 from Stein's book - Innermostasia - Plans for watch stations Txla, Txxiiif, Txxiiil at the Han Dynasty wall north of Tun-huang


Txl b, Txl c

About 2 more miles to the east he found another tower, Txlb. And a third tower, Txlc was on the top of a high hill projecting from the Pei-shan overlooking the Su-lo Ho from the north. About half way to Txlb Stein found a section of the wall itself at a bearing of S 100 degrees E near the defile. It was about 34 feet wide and 8-9 feet high. Along the north side there was a ditch from which the wall earth had been dug. Stein reached tower Txlb a short distance north of the wall and on higher ground.

It is a small walled enclosure about 19.5 feet square inside with a tower 8.5 feet high in the north-east corner. It is built of the usual bricks 13 x 7 x 4 inches. The walls are strengthened by later construction. It was exactly like the towers near Tun-huang. It was 20 feet square at the base on 26 feet high. It was built of solid layers of stamped clay 6 inches thick. From there Stein climbed the 300 foot high spur north of the defile. From there he had an extensive view of the entire defile and the valley to the east as far as the large fort at Bulungir. This detail of map 83 frfom the second expedition shows Bulungir and the wall {short description of image}from Stein's view looking the opposite way. To the north he could see the Pei-shan hills and to the west the gravel plain toward An-hsi. The tower Txl c on the summit was in a perfect location to provide observation. It was built of bricks with layers of tamarisk brushwood after each 3 courses. It was 23 feet square at base and remained 13 feet high. The south and southwest sides had collapsed due to the slope itself subsiding. On the east face one course of bricks was laid vertically between two courses horizontally. There was an observation post 4 feet wide on top in which Stein found Han era Chinese documents.


Wall north of the Su-lo Ho

Returning down the spur Stein and team found the wall again to the east of Txlb. There it was constructed of layers of gravelly earth and tamarisk brushwood. It followed the slope of the hills that line the north side of the defile only 200 yards from the river bed.

There the wall was commanded by the crest of the hills that rose 100 to 150 feet above it. This indicates that this section of wall was intended not for military defense but only to secure greater safety to border police. Where the wall descended closer to the river its brushwood layers had completely decayed. Searching back west Stein found the wall formed by the gravel mound straight to tower Txl a and 20 feet high.
Returning to the line to the east on the right bank in less than a half mile they found the wall again where it passes between two low ridges at the south-eastern end of the spur previously visited and described. They could trace it clearly for 120 yards as a double embankment. The southern wall was 24 feet wide and 10 feet high, the northern wall was less wide and only 5-6 feet high. They were about 44 feet apart. Further on the wall was lost in soft loess near the river bed.



North of the Su-lo Ho and well east of An-hsi. A few miles further on they found the remains of another tower, Txlia on a wide terrace.

Stein had seen this one in 1907 from the south side of the river and visited by Lal Singh that year. It was built of layers of stamped clay and was 20 feet square at base. The northern face had fallen and the rest split in two. With this evidence Stein was assured that the Han wall was built close to the Su-lo Ho. But no trace of the wall was found in the thick vegetation.



They did find another tower high above a bend in the Su-lo Ho near where the river changes from flowing north out of the Nan-shan to west through the valley to Lop.

This was numbered Txlib. It was of layers of stamped clay and still rose to 29 feet on a base of 20 feet square. By use of ropes and the foot holes built into it one of the men reached the top where he found a wooden spoon and some other fragments. There was plenty of Han pottery around the base. There was an enclosure some 27 feet along the northern side and had joined the tower on the west side.



Another two miles east of Txlib on a terrace near the Su-lo Ho on its right bank.

Txlic was another terrace which had been converted into a tower by simply cutting and digging out the clay on four sides. This also was 20 feet square and 21 feet high. There were many Han potsherds all around. The 10 feet high wall itself passed around the west, north and east sides of this natural clay tower at a distance of 32 - 36 feet.


Txlid, Txlie, Txlif, Txlig

Further east from Txlic along the right bank of the Su-lo Ho

Another tower, Txlid, was found only another mile and half east. This one of stamped clay was only 30 yards from the river bank. Wind erosion had cut down the northern foot. The remaining tower still had a height of 28 feet. After another mile and half across the wind-eroded clay plain between the river and ridge they found another rocky ridge jutting out toward the river. On a small hillock some 30-40 feet high there were remains of another watch tower, but only the base of about 2-3 feet high remained. But the refuse did contain Han dated remains. After another mile they came to tower T xlif. This was on the top of a detached hill about 150 feet above the river level. This one had a loop-holed parapet but was clearly Han era, although enlarged to the east, south and west by additional masonry. In this the bricks were set vertically in Kan-su style The original tower was solid with bricks of 15 x 10 x 4 inches and reed layers between the courses at 3 feet 6 inch intervals. The base was 24 feet square. The added later masonry of bricks 14 x 6.5 x 3 inches increased the size to 32 feet square. The height was 32 feet. There were the usual foot-holes on the southern face. The tower commands an excellent view along the river to east and west. A careful search all around found rubbish about 20 feet down the slope and 2 feet thick. Many remains were retrieved as shown in Stein's included listing. There was a small enclosure (Txlig) at the foot of the hill. But the refuse in it showed it was modern.


Txlih, Txli i

Further east along the north - right - bank of the Su-lo Ho

Further to the east Stein found remains of the wall again. But it soon disappeared likely due to wind erosion. Again, further yet, they did find another section of decayed wall further north a mile away from the river. And there they also found another tower, Txlih. But there was not much in or around it. Before even reaching tower Txli h Stein saw the ruined walls of a small fortified town destroyed in the Tungan rebellion. Further along the wall Stein found the point at which the caravan route to Hami crossed, about 350 yards northwest of the fortress. There he saw a row of five small stupas north of the wall and another group of three south of the wall. Stein remarks that he continually drew attention to the Chinese practice of establishing shrines at places where trade routes crossed a wall. The spot were the caravan route to Hami was exactly half way between towers Txlih and Txli i, each a mile west or east respectively. At those distances, Stein guesses that originally there would have been a tower with gate at the crossing point. He presumed that the garrison for the fort was established in the early 18th century. He presumed that this location was selected as the best to which supplies could be delivered from Su-chou.


Txli j, Txlik, Txli l, Txli m, Txlin, Txlio,

Another mile further east along the right bank of the Su-lo Ho to the first of these and then continuing east.

Another mile on he found another watch post with walls 3 feet thick of bricks 14 x 9 x 3 inches. More relics were retrieved there. The low mound of the wall continued for more miles eastward. There was another tower, Txli j at a mile and another, Txli jj after a further mile. There and further eastward wind erosion had nearly destroyed both wall and towers. After four miles they found another ruined remains of a watch post Txli k. Another mile of mound (wall) was passed to reach tower, Txli l. At this one Stein found several small brick stupas Beyond this tower the wall was again lost on the hard clay surface. They found a tower, Txli m further south of the expected line but determined that it was a much later construction. Stein and team turned south to regain the river where it makes is 90 degree bend from north to west. There they found a tower Txli n of stamped clay 12 feet square where the caravans halt at a village called Ma-ku-t'an. From there they turned back northeast to reach another tower on the Han wall line. This was Txli o (fig 212). It was constructed of stamped clay on a base 32 feet square. It was about 50 yards north of the Han wall. Another tower Txli p was seen to the northeast on rising ground.



Three miles south east from Txli o

Stein followed the wall line to the southeast from Txli o. They found sections as high as 5-6 feet in three places a quarter mile apart. After 3 miles they reached tower Txli r built of bricks 14 x 9 x 7 inches. Next to it was a guard room only 6 feet square.


Txliia to Txliib

South east from Txli r near the village Shih-erh-tun along the ridges of the Pei-shan and overlooking the Su-lo Ho and on a rocky hill.

From Txli r Stein continued on across soft ground liable for flooding. After another mile and half they found a low rocky ridge on which were towers Txlii a to d above the village, Shih-erh-tun. Stein found the remains of the Han wall continued along a succession of low narrow ridges of the Pei-shan range overlooking the Su-lo river valley. About 300 yards along the ridges he found Txlii a. It was on a small rocky hill about a furlong south of the rampart itself and at a height of 50 feet above the plain. It commanded like towers Txlii b to d stretched eastwards. The tower was of stamped clay with thin layers of reeds between each layer. It was in great decay and was only 10 feet high.
For another 3/4 mile the wall went towards another rocky hill where they was a completely decayed clay mount about 12 feet high that was tower T xlii b. They found lots of Han pottery there and a Wu-chu coin


Txlii, Txxliiv, Txliib, Txliia, Txlid


{short description of image}Plans for watch stations Txlii, Txxliiv, Txliib, Txliia, Txlid, at the Han Dynasty wall


Txliic, Txliid

On the section of the Han wall north of the Su-lo Ho and on the southern spurs of the Pei-shan.

From tower Txlii b which was directly behind the remains of the wall, the wall was traced clearly for another mile across stony ground but was then lost eastwards in a belt of sandy soil. Layers of brushwood were exposed along the sides of the wall. The rampart nowhere more than 4 - 5 feet high was about 14 feet wide on top. This section of Han wall was guarded by two towers, Txlii c and Tlii d. Tower t xlii c was made of stamped clay with reinforcing layers of reeds. It was 20 feet square plus later additions and 14 feet high. The west face additions had fallen away. And directly south of the wall was the remains of a small fort.. Stein makes special note of the two towers being so close together, deciding that the view from Txlii d was blocked. Tower Txlii d had been repeatedly repaired and added to. (fig 216 in which it is behind the small fort). It was 33 feet square at base counting the additions. It was 13 feet high. There were 5 small, new P'ao-tas along the ridge to the east. On a rocky terrace some 30 feet below Txlii d was the small fort enclosure. This was 58 feet from east to west inside and 46 feet across. The walls were 18 feet high excluding the parapet of bricks measuring 12 x 8 x 4 inches and probably of later construction. A large section of the west wall was fallen. Its massive walls and location showed its antiquity. (plan 14). The plan shows the route leading from the village toward Txli o and on toward Hami passes close below this small fort and so does the route that leads to Ch'iao-wan-ch'eng. The village no doubt was the last cultivated spot before the caravan route to Hami crossed the desert the location of a defensive fort to serve as a 'gate' is logical. The fort was known as "Hsiao-fang-p'anor the small protective camp." Moreover, there is a typical small shrine at the junction of the two caravan routes near the wall.


Txliie to Txliij

On the Han wall section east of Shih-erh-tun - a mile north of the caravan route to Su-chou.

Stein continued east from Shih-erh-tun. Only a half mile on from tower Txlii d the wall was lost on low ground in reeds. They continued in the same direction towards Txlii e a tower visible from the village and came again to the wall making a straight line of reed fascines. Near tower Txlii that was about 2 miles further the wall rose to a height of 6 feet. From there on east it remained clearly visible for 12 more miles. Across this distance the wall was built of alternate layers of reed fascines and stamped clay. . Along that stretch they found towers Txllii e to j all of similar original construction and also showing later additions and repairs. The caravan route to Su-chou is only a mile south of the wall. They were built of stamped clay and are from 22 to 28 feet square at the base. The heights vary between 18 and 25 feet including brick parapets of later construction. Each tower now is on the north-western or north-eastern corner of a later walled enclosure (tower Txlii f in fig 214). The enclosures are also built of stamped clay 3.25 to 4 feet thick but less solid than the towers. They form enclosures of 60 - 62 feet. They showed wind erosion on their western sides.


Han wall east of Shih-erh-tun - with unnumbered tower

The section of the Han wall northeast of Su-chou

Beyond Txlii j the wall could be seen for about another mile but then disappeared in a depression. From there they turned southeast to reach a well. Across the depression and on another high ridge they found a large conical tower about 200 feet above the marsh. This was built of layers of clay reinforced with large trunks of poplar and was 33 feet square at the base. At 12 feet the top had a small look-out platform. The tower had a very fine view to the north and northwest.


Txliii - Another part of the Han wall further east

Located on a wide plateau

Stein rode with Lal Singh and a few helpers to the north to search for the wall. They found so much that it took two days to collect it all. They found the wall across a wide plateau trending from west-north-west to east-south-east. In parts it was eroded by wind. But there were many segments that still rose nearly intact to height of 6-7 feet. It was built of alternate layers of stamped clay and fascines, each 8 to 10 inches thick. The clay layers were very hard. The wall was about 5 feet wide at the top. With the wall itself so well preserved Stein was glad to find also other remains. The first tower, Txliii a was decayed to a mound but had many potsherds around and from a refuse heap they found wooden slips inscribed in Chinese.

Plate from Stein's book - Innermostasia - Plans for watch stations Txliii, Txxiiiu, Txlib, Txlia, Txliid, at the Han Dynasty wall


Txliii b - Txliii c - Txliii d - Txliii e - Txliii f - Txliii g - Txliii h, Txliii i - Txliii j.

A section along the Han wall further east toward Su-chou

Another half mile to the south-east they found the remains of a potter's kiln. Another half mile on they found tower T xliii b (fig 223). It was 11 feet high, built of bricks 15 x 8 x 5 inches and was 16 feet square at the base. It had been enlarged to 20 feet wide but the outer brick casing had fallen away revealing the original white plaster on the wall. The next two towers, T xliii c and d were only mounds. At Txliii d there was a row of eight low mounds as spacing of 30 - 50 yards. Another mile further there was another tower Txliii e now only a mound about 15 feet high and 22 yards across of layers of clay and brushwood. Another mile they came to the mound of tower Txliii f were the wall turned to due east. The wall could be seen for another mile as a clay bank 3-4 feet high. Then the line of the wall disappeared for 3 miles where they found a low mound with tower T xliii g only 5 feet high. They could not see any wall further on but found tower Txliii h on a hill about 30 feet high and 50 feet in diameter. A section of wall was there. From there then found tower Txliii j further east

{short description of image}Photo 214 from Stein's book - Innermostasia- Extremely poor photography on my part results in blur - but it still gives some idea of the tower - watch tower Txliif on the Han Dynasty wall east of Shih-erh-tun. Note that Stein always uses the Roman term "limes" due to his classical education and his recognition that the whole nexus of the Han wall was so similar to typical Roman lines in North Africa, Middle East and even along the Danube.


Txliii g - Txliii h - Txliii i - Txliii j

Continuation of the same section of wall and towers.

At tower Txliii h they found 16 more Chinese records and other items. Two documents were dated 39 BC and 13 AD. They continued to towers Txliii g and Txliii i about a mile apart with Txliii h between them. But they could find no trace of the wall itself by the two western ones. At Txliii i on a hill the wall appeared. Nine more Chinese records were found. Beyond that tower the wall again was 5-6 feet high (fig 220). Another mile on a mound south of the wall was the remains of tower Txliii j. Only the east wall remained.


Txliii k - Txliii l -

Continuation toward the east

The next tower to the east, Txliii k, was a half mile further. Originally of stamped clay and reeds, it had decayed to a mound. At that tower the wall was in good repair and its line changed direction to east-north-east. The next tower, Txliii l was 24 feet high (fig 221). It also had been repaired and added to later. There was also a later enclosure. This wall was formed of stamped clay 4 feet thick and on the south face remained at 10- feet high. As so often the west face was completely eroded. While built during the Han dynasty as part of the entire wall, this post remained in use into medieval times. Northwest of Txliii l at a distance of 40 yards there were the foundations of four small buildings constructed against the wall. They were 13 feet north to south and at intervals of 18 feet. Perhaps these were shelters for the guards. Beyond tower Txliii l the wall was seen to the east for half a mile.


Txliv a - Txliv e

The Limes traced East of Hu-hai-tzu east - south east toward Su-chou

Stein left camp at the springs of Hsiao-ch'uan-tzu headed east-south-east along the caravan route to Su-chou. Lal Singh found the wall about 8 miles north and Stein found it with towers to the northeast. The northernmost tower was T xliv a about 5 miles north of their camp. Then they found the wall about 5 miles further north amid a mass of tamarisk cones. (fig 219) The wall was only a low mound in drift sand but was 9 feet wide and still 4 feet high. It was composed only of bundles of wood. The wall disappeared again toward the east and west under sand dunes. It appeared again several more miles to the west where it was 10 feet high and 6.5 feet wide (fig 218). Here also it was built only of bundles of tamarisk wood. They found no more towers along that section. Stein believed the construction was due to lack of water. And subsequent guards would have been stationed at posts further south. To the east they later managed to trace the wall for 45 miles clear to the Pei-ta-ho river. Leaving the wall to return south for four miles they found another mound about 70 feet long and 35 wide. There was an enclosure some 94 yards square built of brushwood bundles (Txliv e, plan 16).


Txliv a - Txliv b

Near Han wall east of Hu-hai-tzu

Returning to discuss tower Txliv a Stein notes again that it was the northern most tower in this section and was distinct from the wall. It was 32 feet square at the base and 14 feet high, built on a low plateau of gravel. It was built of layers of clay 6-7 inches thick and brushwood layers between. There was a small structure on the east side. Less than 3 miles to the south-east they found tower Txliv b (fig 222). It was 21 feet high and 27 feet square. There was little wind erosion. The top of the tower was covered with straw and refuse.


Txliv c - Txliv d

A mile and half further south east

Continuing south east for another mile and half they found the decayed post with foundations of a clay tower Txliv c about 16 feet square with a room next to it. The southern wall alone of the room survived to a height of 3 feet of bricks 15 x 8 x 4 inches. The refuse contained three Chinese records on wood and a bronze arrow head. A fourth watch tower, Txliv d was seen about 3 miles to the south east. It was of bricks in decent preservation 16 feet square and 14 feet high. There was a guard room on top with walls 3 feet high.


Txliv f

Half way between Txliv c and Ko-ta-ch'uan-tzu - These were the last towers Stein found while enroute to Su-chou

They found another tower, Txliv f about 16 feet square and 8 feet high about half way between Txliv c and the well at Ko-ta-ch'uan-tzu. It was built of bricks 10 x 7 x 4 inches - that is different from the usual size and possibly of later date. It was out of the straight line between towers Txliv a to d. Clearly the four watch towers were built during the time of the Han wall but they were located rather far from the line of the wall as found by Stein. Stein guessed that either these were to protect the route between Su-chou and the wall or were built so far back due to lack of water along the wall itself. Stein was unable to trace the wall between the section described here and a section further east by towers Txlv a to h near the Pei-t-ho river.


Txlvi a - Txlvi b - Txlvi c - Txlvi d - Txlvi f - Txlvi g - Txlvi h - Txlvi i - Txlvi k - Txlvi l

A continuation of the general line of the Han wall toward the east with Txlvi k near the road between Chin-t'a and Mao-mei - Stein found these on his way back from Su-chou - hence the gap in numbering as we skip the towers he found around Su-chou

Tower Txlvi a was further east on a rocky hill 30 yards south of the wall. This one was built of stamped clay and brushwood 16 feet square and still 9 feet high. Continuing east for a mile he found tower Txlvi b on another hill - it was but two heaps of stone. Another mile and half along the mound that was the wall on another rocky ridge 60 feet high they found tower Txlvi c composed of stone walls. Tower Txlvi d was found on another ridge a mile further on. This one was a decayed mound 18 by 7 feet and only 4 feet high. The remaining bricks were 17 x 8 x 4 inches. Beyond these ridges the wall mound only 4 to 8 feet high crossed an open gravel Sai to the south-east. Riding another 3.5 miles Stein found traces of a watch post Txlvi f with much Han pottery. Post Txlvi g was a mound another mile east. But it was adjoined by an enclosure 57 feet by 79 feet., Those walls also were only mounds of layers of gravel and brushwood. Further on was tower Txlvi h. This was built of bricks 13 x 7.5 x 4 inches with reeds between the courses. It had collapsed but had measured 16 feet square. There also were quarters with brick walls 24 by 16 feet. Continuing east Stein found three more towers at mile intervals. Txlvi i was the same as Txlvi h, but had been repaired to a height of 12 feet. The next tower, Txlvi k, was near the road between Chin-t'a and Mao-mei and appeared modern. Stein saw that the Han wall trace continued east but had to quit in order to reach Mao-mei by nightfall. However he at least caught sight of another more modern tower Txlvi l further east. Stein followed the cart track then for 12 miles and crossed the Kan-chou river to reach the walls of Mao-mei.


Txlviii a - Txlviii b

Across the Etsin gol near Mao-mei

Stein crossed the Etsin-gol river to the west - left -bank. The river was over a mile wide indicating its volume during annual floods but held only a few pools in May. He could not find traces of the wall near the river, but eventually found a tower Txlviii a on a spur 80 feet above the terrain and there could detect the line of the wall. It was only a low mound on a bearing of N. 40 degrees E. but turned at the tower to N. 58 degrees E. The tower was broken to a height of only 9 feet but was 24 feet square at the base. The bricks were 14 x 8 x 5 inches. The next tower on a steep ridge, Txlviii b, was 4 miles away. ( fig 225). It was a solid tower of stamped clay 20 feet square at the base and tapering to 24 feet high. There the wall line changed direction to N. 83 degrees E. toward the left bank of a river


Txlviiic - Txlviii e - Txlviiid

On both sides of the Etsin gol north of Mao-mei - where the Han wall crossed the river just north of the oasis.

Stein saw that either in Han era or later the governments had expanded the defenses at the Etsin-gol and made them more powerful than the simple Han wall. about 4 miles further from Txlviii b he found a massive fort at Txlviii c. It was similar to the "Jade Gate' at Txiv. It was 32 feet square inside walls of stamped clay that were 20 feet thick and over 30 feet high. The relics found were from ancient and medieval eras. A mile north of Ta-wan there was a large walled enclosure about 220 yards square, Txlviii e (fig 228), close to the left bank of the river. The walls were of stamped clay 18 feet thick and 18 feet high with large square bastions in the corners. It there were several ruined buildings inside including a temple. A mile southeast of this ruin on the river right bank was Txlviii d called by the Mongols Taralinginduruljin. This fort measured 250 by 185 feet with stamped clay walls 12 feet thick and 25 feet high in places. It had one large square bastion on the southwest corner and a smaller one part way on the western wall. The gate in the eastern wall was protected by two massive flanking towers and an outer enclosure. Then there was a much larger enclosure 700 by 500 feet long to the east and north (see diagram. Those walls were only 5-6 feet thick. They had towers in the corner and along the length. Inside the inner fort were two small buildings. Stein guessed the fort might date originally to pre-T'ang and then post Tibetan eras around 750 AD.


Txlviii f

Near the Etsin gol north of Mao-mei found on the way north along the river

Two miles further on they found another watch tower , Txlviii f, on a low ridge commanding a far view of the river plain. I was the same as the others, 20 feet square and tapering to 22 feet high. The bricks were 14 x 8 x 5 inches. .The forts back at Ta-wan were visible from this tower. It must have been a forward look out post. Stein noted that on the opposite side of the river he could see another fort called Ulan-duruljin. He continued north across a bare gravel plain.


Txlviii b - Txlviii g

Stein found Txlviii g on his return from Kara-khoto going south along the Etsin-gol and stopped again at Txlviiib

They passed the ruined forts at Arun-takhai and Tara-lingin examined during the previous march north. He noted tower T xlviii b where the Han wall hits the left bank of the river. He found a series of 5 ruined watch towers in a line northeast from the right bank near the fort Ulan-duruljin on a rising ridge He visited the southern most of these, Tower Txlviii g, built of bricks 14 x 8 x 6 inches with layers of reeds between each third course.


Txlv a - Txlv b - Txlv c - Txlv d - Txlv e - Txlv f - and Txlv g

These were the last towers associated with the Han dynasty wall that Stein found while starting north west from Mao-mei.

They crossed the line previously found of the Han wall west of Mao-mei. They found two additional towers, Txlv a and Txlv b. made of stamped clay and layers of tamarisk. The following day they found towers Txlv c , d, and e on the same line. Immediately they found yet two more towers, Txlv f and g.


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