{short description of image}  
 

NIYA RUIN

 
  Aurel Stein visited the ruin 90 miles north of Niya in the desert during his first expedition and again during his second and third expeditions. His extensive discoveries here during that first expedition of medieval Buddhist documents and art works was one of the sensations which enabled him to obtain permission and funding for his second and third expeditions. Niya appears on Map sheet 37 and a special map Stein prepared. It appears even today on maps of China and Chinese Turkistan and can be found on Google maps. Niya is located at 82 degrees 45 minutes east Longitude and 37 degrees 50 minutes to 38 degrees north Latitude. It is in the desert and can be reached by a route north from Niya Bazar with itself is north of Surghak on the southern side of the Takla Mahan.

Stein noted that some documents refered to royalty but did not in his report give a name. Now I find the area is refered to as the Kingdom of Kroraina, but also as Cadota. Several of the British Museum International Dunhuang Project workers have visited and posted photographs taken to duplicate some of Stein's photos.

 
  When he first arrived in Khotan he met Turdi, a real expert on the desert, who was to guide Stein to many important finds. Stein asked him to confirm his recollections about desert ruins, while Stein explored south into the Kun lun Mountains. The first ruin Turdi described was Dandan-Uliq. On 7 December Stein started out for Dandan-Uiliq via Tawakkel, following the Khotan River into the desert. There he hired local workers to dig at Dandan and departed eastward on 12 December. He reached Dandan in 6 days of below zero weather. At Dandan he found coins from 713-741 AD and much else wall - frescos of Buddha and Bodhisattvas - houses - an orchard - many documents in various languages and scripts - and more. He systematically excavated 14 buildings. Among these was the actual library of a Buddhist monastery. He found documents dated from 781 to 787 AD. Stein completed this survey on 3 January and moved to Rawak, another place Turdi had found in the desert. There he found Han Dynasty coins and various stucco fragments. From there he moved east to the Keriya River and then south up the river to Keriya town by 13 January. He started north back down the river on 18 January to visit the shrine of Iman Jafar Sadik. At Ninya oasis he was told about another ruin in the desert. This was 90 miles through desert to the north. He began work at Niya ruin on 28 January. There he found many documents in Kharoshthi written on wood slips about northern India. He made floor plans of the buildings. He found many every-day articles from the houses. All of this had been preserved by being burried in the sand for centuries. The site had been abandoned in the late 3rd century. By 13 February he completed all possible work at Niya ruin and returned to the Iman Jafar Sadik shrine. At all these locations, but in particular at Niya, Stein found such remarkable artifacts that they established his reputation.

Stein returned to Niya during his second expedition.

Stein left Domoko on 6 October headed eastward and passed the road to Keriya. he stopped for quick visit to Achima, a new oasis 6 miles further east on the edge of the Domoko cultivated area created by a new flow of water. He recorded visits to various debris sites in the desert. He had an administrative delay in Keriay until October 13. At Niya he met with his old helper crew from 1901 including Ibrahim Beg who had located the ruins in the desert. He took 50 men northward into the desert with supplies for 4 weeks on a 4-day march to the Niya ruin site. This ancient town was visitged by Hsian-tsang on his journey to and from India. Stein digresses as usual into detailed discussion of the history and then a description of his findings. These included the remains of orchards and fruit trees and ;poplars. (plaste 18 and 7 and fig 75). He found three tablets in the Prakrit language written in Kharosthi script. There were too many ruined dwellings for him to excavate in the available time, even with the large crew.

On October 20 he started work with a divided party having sent Ram Singh to search for more locations in the desert to the north (which turned out a failure).Stein excavated first ruins Nxiii (plate 7) the same building he had worked on in 1901. This time he found more Kharosthi documents comlete with original seals. Illusftrations 47-48 on page facing 217 show the wooden remains well - sosuth room xiv and illustrations 49 to 52 show more remains of ruined buildings. Some records were of Chinese notes attached to missing presents between local royalty. From the names Stein connected this dynasty with Chinese annals. He guessed also the name Chu-mo was the same as Chinese Ching-chueh from the Han annals. On 22 October he was still clearing Nxx (platge12 - fig53). He provided more details of his work in Desert Cathay and Ancient Khotan.
On 24 October he shifted his camp to another section where he soon made even greater finds. In a previously partially excavated room his assistant found a trove of written records hidden in a cache under the floor. These included contracts such as deeds and agreements still preserved with original seals. He had to wait for detailed translation back in London. Stein wrote more detailed descriptions of contents of various buildings. Among these was a piece of leather scale armor.

Stein excavated yet more buildings in the southern section of the ruin, including Nxli (plate 18). On 30 October he moved back to the shrine at Iman Ja'far-sadiq, the small populated locale from which he recruited his workers. Stein concludes the section with his commentary and'conjectures' about the significance of Niya and his finds. He notes, for instance the complete absence of any documents written on paper. He records the find of 10 Chinese copper coins dated AD 25 - 220. He noted that the administration of Niya was conducted in the ancient Indian language and script. He guesses that the ancient idea about the inhabitants having come from Taxila in NW India may be true. The documents may be in the ancient Indo-Scythian language. He guesses that Niya was abandoned in the middle 3rd century AD. He discusses various theories presented by other scholars and himself as to the cause of the abandonment. One idea he rejects is that this was due to gradual reduction in the water supply as the river dried. But he has shown that he place was abandoned hurriedly at one time in an emergency, not gradually. He connects this with the loss of Chinese control of the Tarim in 3rd century.


Stein stopped at Niya again in December 1914 during his third expedition.
.

 
{short description of image}

Detail of map sheet # 37 Niya - showing in red the major buildings excavated from deep sand by Aurel Stein's crew. This was one of his major discoveries that yielded up a very large number of relics from Buddhist occupation. He returned here during his third expedition .

 
{short description of image}

The north east section of map sheet # 37 - Niya - Here is the end of the river in the desert at Iman Ja'far Saduq Mazar ( a local shrine at which Stein was able to hire laborers and store his heavy baggage. The Niya ruin is north of the shrine.

 
{short description of image}

Map of northern route to Niya ruined town showing locations of many of the individual buildings Stein excavated

 
{short description of image}

Southern section of map of route to Niya ruined town with marks for some of the individual buildings

 
{short description of image}

Map 7 - revised map of Niya site showing Stein's numbers for various buildings

 
{short description of image}

Map 7 - detail of southern part of map of Niya site showing Stein's numbers for various buildings

 
{short description of image}

Map 7 - detail of part of map of Niya site showing Stein's numbers for various buildings

 
{short description of image}

Plans for houses at Nxii and Nxix at Niya

 
{short description of image}

Plans for houses Nxiii and Nxv at Niya

 
{short description of image}

Plan for a large home at Niya Nxxiv

 
{short description of image}

Plate - Plan of house N xii at Niya

 
{short description of image}

Plate - Plan of house N xiv at Niya

 
{short description of image}

Plate - Plan of house N xiii at Niya

 
{short description of image}

Plate - Plan of houses N xvi and xviii at Niya

 
{short description of image}

Plate - Plan of residence N xx at Niya

 
{short description of image}

Plate 13 - plans of residences N xxii and xxiii at Niya.

 
{short description of image}

Plate 14 - plan of residence N xxiv at Niya.

 
{short description of image}

Plate 15 - plan of a large residence at Niya.

 
{short description of image}

Plate 16 - plan of a large residence N XXIX at Niya.

 
{short description of image}

Plate 17 - plans of several houses Nxxxv, xxxvii, xxxvi, xxxviii, at Niya.

 
{short description of image}

Plate 18 - plan of ruined house N xli at Niya

 
{short description of image}

Ancient Khotan 37 - Ruined house N. i, Niya site, seen from north-west after excavation - Stein draws attention to the location where the first tablet documents were found under the sand. It was several stray documents shown to him by a local man that drew Stein to this location, which made him famous for the many discoveries there.

 
{short description of image}

Ancient Khotan 38 - Ruined stupa, Niya site, seen from south-east - not much left of this one.

 
{short description of image}

Ancient Khotan39 - Group of ruined dwellings N,ii, at Niya, seen from south east after excavation - Stein uncovered the remains of an extensive early medieval town that was capital of a local 'kingdom'. Previously unknown, now it appears on standard maps and draws researchers.

 
{short description of image}

Ancient Khotan 40 - Ruined house N, iv, with arbour, Niya site, seen from north-east

 
{short description of image}

Ancient Khotan 41 - Ruins of house N. iii, with fallen garden trees, Niya site, seen from west

 
{short description of image}

Ancient Khotan 42 - Western portion of ruined residence N.iii, Niya site, before excavation - note that even prior to excavation an unusual amount of the building timbers remain above the sand.

 
{short description of image}

Ancient Khotan 43 - Ruins of residence N. iii, Niya site, seen from south-east before excavation

 
{short description of image}

Ancient Khotan 44 - Ruined dwelling N,v, Niya site, seen from south before excavation

 
{short description of image}

Ancient Khotan 45 - Ancient rubbish heap N. xv, Niya site, seen from west in course of excavation

 
{short description of image}

Ancient Khotan 46 - Remains of dwelling completely eroded, near N. xi, Niya site

 
{short description of image}

Ancient Khotan 47 - Remains of ancient trees and tank, near dwelling N. viii, Niya site

 
{short description of image}

Ancient Khotan Vol II - VIa - Room N. i, First find-placed of inscribed tablets, Niya site, seen from north after excavation - This even was a defining moment for Stein and he wanted to preserve it in records. The rare documents (unique) he found at Niya made him famous.

 
{short description of image}

Ancient Khotan Vol II, VI b - Room N. i, in ruined house N. i, Niya site, seen from south before excavation.

 
{short description of image}

Ancient Khotan Vol II, VIIa - North wall of hall in ruined house N. iii, Niya site after excavation

 
{short description of image}

Ancient Khotan Vol II, VIIb - South wall in hall of ruined house N. iii, Niya site, after excavation

 
{short description of image}

Ancient Khotan Vol II, VIIIa - Architectural wood-carving from ruined house, N. viii, Niya site

 
{short description of image}

Ancient Khotan Vol II, VIIIb - Ancient chair and other wood-carvings found in house N. iii, Niya site

 
{short description of image}

Ancient Khotan Vol II, XXVIII - Plan of ruined house N.1, ancient site beyond the Niya river (beyond means north of the last gasp of the river in the desert). This is the first ruin to which Stein was led and the location of his initial recovery, which he takes pains to show on this plan. (See photos). Ram Singh was the first professional surveyors assigned by the Survey of India to assist Stein. He later became too ill for the exertion of desert and mountain work as was replaced by Lal Singh during the second expedition and for the third.

 
{short description of image}

Ancient Khotan Vol II, XXIX - Ruined stupa at Niya - Sketch plan of group of ruined dwellings N ii, ancient site beyond Niya river

 
{short description of image}

Ancient Khotan Vol II, XXX - Plan of ancient residence N. iii, ancient site beyond Niya river

 
{short description of image}

Ancient Khotan Vol II, XXXI - Plan of ruined dwelling N. iv, Niya site beyond the river

 
{short description of image}

Ancient Khotan Vol II - XXXII - Plan of ruined dwelling N. v, ancient site beyond Niya river

 
{short description of image}

Ancient Khotan Vol II, XXXIII - Plans for ruined dwellings N vi and N vii - ancient Niya site

 
{short description of image}

Ancient Khotan Vol II, XXXIV - Plan of northernmost group of ruins and plan of ruined dwelling N viii - Niya site

 
{short description of image}

Ancient Khotan Vol II, XXXV - Plan of ruined dwelling N. ix, ancient site beyond Niya river

 
     
     
     
     
     

Return to Xenophon.