AUREL STEIN -
|| The journey began by boat, down the Jhelam or
Vyath - Hydaspes river from Srinigar to Bandipur on Volur lake. From there the
extensive and heavy baggage was sent with Muhammed Yaqub Khan and Naik
Shamsuddin via the Gilgit Transport Road to Hunza. Stein liked to travel as
light as possible and for this section of his trip such was essential. With Lal
Singh and Afraz-gul he departed on 2 August directly toward Chilas through the
deep gorges of the Kishanganga and
across the watershed towards the Indus by the Barai pass at 14,250 feet. At
that point they had reached Chilas territory. Two more days and across the
Fasat Pass at 15,200 feet brought them to the fort at Chilas
and Tangir are shown on mapa2as)
|| At the location where the river passed the Hodar
valley Stein's 'exciting journey' stopped and the baggage was ferried across.
Above the village there Stein spotted a ruin on a ridge some 300 feet above so
of course climbed to examine this 'fort' - 160 yards by 100 yards in size.
Section IV - Darel Old and New
He narrates his trip through Darel. The first main stop was at Mankial. As
usual with foresight he had sent the Wali a list of 'old places' he wanted to
visit. He describes each in turn in the order visited.
first was Ramal-kot and oval enclosure on a rocky ridge with long axis 100
yards. The second was Zhomi-kot and the third Taronali-kot. He then visited
Bojo-kot, actually a series of fortified houses on a walled terrace.
visiting several walled villages Stein was taken to Raji-kot on a rocky hill
about 500 feet above the river valley, then past Bodo-kot and Gali-kot on spurs
to stop at Gali-kot. On a high ridge above Raji-kot Stein found a massive wall.
Throughout the valley, or rather on the ridges and spurs around it, Stein was
shown many more ruined walls and enclosures. One had walls 16 feet thick.
decided that the Raji-kot for had been the main residence of the ancient rulers
of Darel. Now Raja Pakhtun Wali had decided to build his castle (palace),
called Gumare-kot, in a plain just south of this hill.
Stein moved from Gumare-kot down the
main Darel valley southward back toward the Indus, passing walled terraces, old
irrigation canals, villages and more forts. Near
Shaha-khel he found a ruined fort on a high peak called Lokilo-kot (Red Fort)
built of clay - a rectangle 174 by 115 feet with corner bastions 12 feet
square. It commanded the entrance to the valley.
He met the garrison of Gupis fort
which guards the entrance to the Yasin valley and route leading to Mastuj and
Stein then traveled from the
Baroghil saddle to Murgach near the Karambar pass. He passed a small fort built
by Wakhis as defense against Kirghiz raiders. He was now at 14,420 feet
elevation passing glaciers that fed rivers to both west and south.
Section IV - In the Valley of
Stein refers also to the mountain fortress at Kiz-kurghan, which was already a
ruin when visited by Hsuan-tsang in the 7th century and which Stein described
in Serindia. His point was that this ruin could not have survived even
in its dilapidated condition except for the dryness of the climate He stopped
on 11 September to visit another ruined fortress known as Bazar-dasht. the
northwest wall measured 190 yards but the remains rose only 3-4 feet above
ground. Stein also revisited the fortifications of Tash-kurghan. A detached
enclosure was measured at 193 by 83 feet with round towers 10 feet in diameter
at three corners. There were gates remaining in the north and south walls. The
walls were only 2-3 feet thick built of large bricks or stones. Further down
the ridge he found another enclosure 53 by 26 feet.
Stein completed a 40 mile ride to
Kashgar. Stein passed a walled village, Ak-bash town, with walls of 129, 144,
and 164 yards length. The walls were of stamped clay to an average height of 20
feet. Above this rampart there was a wall of sun-dried bricks 13 x 13 x 2
inches to an additional height of 10 feet. At the northeast corner the wall was
10 feet wide at top with a 3.5 feet wide parapet to 7 feet height.
Section II - The Sites of Koyumal and
Stein departed Vash-shahri and reached Charkhlik . He found remains of a brick
ruin 15 feet in diameter near the center of the ancient walls previously
described. This he identified as a stupa. To the south, outside the cultivated
area he found two more ruins. One was called Koyumal.
walls 8 feet thick were made of sun-dried bricks. The walls were about 218
yards long where still existing. In the center was another stupa some 28 feet
square and 14 feet high. The sun-dried bricks were 17 x 9 x 4 inches.
this were two Vihara chapels each about 20 feet long and 9 feet wide.
Stein moved on south about 1.75 miles to another place named Bash-Koyumal. Parts
of its wall remained in segments about 45 feet long made of sun-dried bricks 17
x 9 x 4 inches and 4 feet 9 inches thick. There was also a massive wall 10 feet
thick and 50 feet long near the center.. Fig 107 shows
another stupa 12 feet square and remaining to 9 feet height made of bricks 17 x
9 x 4 inches.
The Ruined Fort of L. K.
On 5 February Stein was able by using field glasses to sight the ruins of fort
L.K. in the distance. They soon noticed another fort west northwest of the
first. and, and,
fort was an irregular oblong with longer sides facing northeast and southwest
about 620 feet long and the shorter sides 330 feet long. The corners were
oriented to the cardinal points. The walls were massive but very badly eroded.
But piles of drift sand protected parts of the walls. The surviving sections of
the southwest face clear of sand on the inner side showed the construction
methods. Outside and inside the fort the wind had eroded the ground level to
depths of 25 feet. The wall was built of alternating layers of clay and Toghrak
trunks and branches laid crosswise. The layers were more narrow as they rose
giving the walls a slope inward. It was 32 feet wide at the base. The first
clay was lumps of hard clay 5 feet thick, excavated from near the river. The
second layer of Toghrak was 22 feet wide and 1.5 feet thick with a leveling
layer of tamarisk brush under it. Then came a layer of clay 4.5 feet thick
followed by another of Toghrak timber 15 feet wide and 2 feet thick. Above that
was a clay layer 4 feet deep and then a layer of Toghrak 10 feet wide. The top
of the wall was eroded too much for accurate measurements. But Stein was sure
that the original top layer had been clay with a likely parapet. He presumed
that the wall had originally been coated on both sides with clay. This had
eroded along with the outer portions of the clay layers.
sketch shows that the original wall must have risen to over 21 feet. The layers
of wood increased in depth with each layer upwards while the clay layers
decreased in depth. This method was to reduce 'top heaviness'. The wall was
reinforced by vertical timber posts in pairs inner and outer, connected for a
frame and some 15 feet apart. Stein believed that the design indicated Chinese
engineering. The original gate was in the northeast face about 100 feet from
the eastern corner. The top of the gate was eroded away but there was a
considerable remains of the timber framework. The sides of the gate were
revetted by nine posts on each side set in two massive foundation beams each 22
feet long. A cross beam joined the two near the entrance indicating that the
gate had been 10 feet wide and 10 feet high. The gate was closed near the outer
end by a massive wooden door of two leaves each 5 feet wide. One of these was
on the ground with its boards 3 inches thick secured by stout cross-joints. The
cross beam had sockets that once held the door jambs. The adjoining posts had
holes into which fitted the cross-bar securing the folds when closed. This
facility was similar to the gate found at Kara-dong in 1901.
Inside the walls there was an area near the middle of the northeastern wall
about 130 feet by 100 covered with heavy timber debris . To the south of it
there were remains of two small groups of timber and wattle built quarters. The
timber was cracked by centuries of erosion. Excavation revealed that the
original walls were of a Toghrak frame with vertical wattle packed with
tamarisk branches secured to cross beams joining the posts. The plaster on both
sides reached 8 or 9 inches in thickness. A western room measured 27 by 20
feet. Stein continues with descriptions of a number of other ruined buildings.
No written remains were found at L.K. But Stein estimated the fort was dated from the same period as
Lou-lan, that is to the 3rd century AD. The fort L.K. is on a straight line
between Lou-lan and Miran, which was at that time the capital of the region and
known as Yu-ni. L.K. lies
about 30 miles south of Lou-lan, and was no doubt designed to protect the
important route between those two posts.
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 T xlviii g, built of bricks 14 x 8 x
6 inches with layers of reeds between each third course. He lacked more time to
search for a connection of the wall toward Mao-mei nor further toward the
Lal Singh found a ruined town at Lo-t'o-ch'eng with walls of stamped clay 10
feet thick and of length over a mile east to west and 1,430 yards from north to
south. (Once a sizable town). The nearly empty interior was divided by a cross
wall. There were bastions along the walls and at the corners. The gates in the
eastern and northern walls were protected by outworks. He found several coins
from 1644-63 and 1851-62.
On 22 August Stein departed Kan-chou to Mao-mei He passed the decayed part of
the Ming Great Wall. That section of the wall continues to the famous fortress
at Chia-yu-kuan. Stein noted that the decay seen in the medieval Ming wall was
a marked contrast to the relative preservation of the much older Han wall that
was built in far worse terrain and climatic conditions. Passing Cheng-i he
noted many towers and defensive positions on hills and ridges. At Mao-mei he
was reunited with both Lal Singh and Muhammad Yaqub..
On 2 September they set out but the flooded river required half a day to cross.
The next day they crossed the line previously found of the Han wall west of
Mao-mei. They found two additional towers, Txlv a and T xlv b. made of stamped
clay and layers of tamarisk. The following day they found towers T xlv c , d,
and e on the same line.
On 5 September they finally got away from civilization into the Pei-shan desert
hills. Immediately they found yet two more towers, T xlv f and g.
On 9 September they crossed another ridge at 5,300 feet. They rode on during 10
and 11 September before stopping at another spring, Lo-t'o-ch'uan, on 12
On 16 September he continued. They turned due west in an open valley. They had
to halt for the night and await the camels. Next morning the 'guides' found the
oasis at Ming-shui only a mile away. .
Afraz-gul made a sketch of a small fort at Bai meant to protect the area from
intruders from Mongolia to the north east. The
fort measured about 320 feet on each face and had gates in the middle of the
north and south walls. There were rectangular bastions at each corner, The
walls were of stamped clay and 8 feet thick.
Section II - The Site of Pei-t'ing
and the Posterior Court of Chu-shih
Stein started with Afraz-gul the 13 miles from Guchen to Urumchi. at Jimasa he
visited the Pei-t'ing ruin. . On 20 October Stein visited the place.
The outer walls had
enclosed an area about 2,160 yards north-south and 1,260 yards east-west. The
walls were greatly decayed and some completely eroded. Their plane table survey
revealed some of the former connections. Stein estimated that originally the
walls were 30 feet wide and 20 feet high with massive bastions in the corners.
There was also an inner enclosure with similar walls.
Section III -Search among the Ruins
With the two main surveyors gone on their solo treks westward toward Lou-lan,
Stein left Khara-khoja on 11 November to explore north-east of Turfan into the
foothills. He stopped again (before in 1907) at Pichan to visit the Chinese
magistrate. Among other things he wanted to examine more of the 'karez'
irrigation. A Karez, found also in pre-Mongol Iran, was an underground
tunnel dug out to form a aqueduct to carry irrigation water safely to avoid
evaporation in the intense heat. In the T'ien shan foothills these were
particularly effective in catching the runoff from the melting snow and
transporting it below the rocky sarai to the fertile oases further south. He
fully describes the terrain crossed during this short trip. Plan
a Mazar encountered along the route. He found that this Muhammadan Mazar had
been built into a pre-existing Buddhist shrine. Nearby was a much larger ruin
of a Buddhist shrine and monastery. In the cliff above were caves also used as
shrines. There were also two large, ruined watch towers built of bricks 13x8x4
inches. One tower was 19 feet square and 30 feet high with two flights of
stairs leading to a room 8 feet square. The other tower on a bit of high ground was 16 feet square.
Further toward Toyuk Stein came upon another tower "tower of Sirkup'. and
Rather than a watch-tower, this was another Buddhist shrine. It
had a base 48 feet square at the base and 10.5 feet high built of bricks 14x9x4
inches. Above this were six remaining receding stories each with arches and
niches for Buddhist images, some of which were still visible. He could see red
paint remaining in some niches and presumed that the structure was originally
highly decorated. The structure was too fragile for safe climbing. Stein
estimated its remaining height at 50 feet.
Section I - The Ruins of Ying-p'an
On 17 March Stein set out for Ying-p'an. The following day they reached
Ying-p'an ruin where they met a team from Tikenlik sent to bring them supplies.
Stein was amazed to meet in this group a Panjabi he had known 14 years
previously. He connects this occasion with a conclusion that this was typical
of the way Indians and other Westerners in medieval times would have penetrated
throughout the basin as traders. Next day he turned his team to work on the
Ying-p'an ruin first discovered by Sven Hedin in 1896. Right away Stein came
upon a group of stupas . The
ruins are shown in on a
plateau 28 feet high above the Shindi river. The plateau is shown on
main stupa is and
diameter was 18 feet, resting on a square base 27 each side and 7 feet high,
but Stein could not determine its original height. This was constructed out of
sun-dried bricks 15x13x3 inches. Between layers of brick there were layers of
stamped clay and gravel 5-6 inches tick. Around the stupa was a brick wall
about 3 feet thick and 61 by 50 feet in length and width. Stein quickly found
his rubbish heaps, overlooked by previous searchers. Among the debris were
found Kharosthi wooden 'documents'. There were 9 smaller stupas around the
central one. The whole site was typical of a worship shrine found at the head
of a life-giving river. Stein visited two more small stupas a few miles north
along the stream. The better preserved of these measured 15 feet square at the
base of 7 feet height topped by a 8.5 foot high dome. They were built of
sun-dried bricks 15x13x3 inches. There was a small fort.
the walls around the site. This
was circular with diameter of 194 yards, built of stamped clay and 24 feet
thick at base. The better preserved sections were 18 feet high. Thirty foot
wide gates were in the east and west sides. Stein dated the fort to Han times
since it corresponded to the fort at nearby Merdek. But coins found there
indicated it was occupied still on T'ang era. Outside the west gate Stein found
another shrine containing a stupa and . I
This shrine had a platform some 46 feet by 40 and 13 feet high built of bricks
15x12x4 inches. The stupa was about 17 feet in diameter on a base 23 feet
Section III - Watch-stations along
the Ancient Road to Korla
Kurgan turned out to be a ruin of a small watch tower, which Sven Hedin had
found in 1896. It
was a massive tower 34 feet square at base with an enclosing wall, about 10
feet high and 3.5 feet thick at its top, at a distance of 76 feet on all sides.
Both structures were constructed in similar fashion to the towers along the Han
wall near Tun-huang. It
was built of sun-dried bricks 15x7x3 inches with reed layers 2-3 inches thick
between each course, and covered with plaster. The tower still had a height of
29 feet with a chamber 12 feet square at the top. At a height of 20 feet the
tower wall was 7 feet thick. The
southern face showed a breach 5-6 feet wide, where there probably had been the
entrance. The tower, then was hollow, in contrast to many solid towers at the
Han wall. Stein found the remains or wooden rafters inside, indicating that
there had been several stories of rooms. There were loopholes (6 by 4 inches)
in the southern face, which faced the outer gate and in the surrounding wall.
These were set in two rows 2 feet apart vertically and 5-6 feet apart
horizontally, thus providing for maximum firepower. Both external wall and
tower were reinforced by Toghrak timbers. Several walls and the tower showed
exposure to fire. Stein found evidence that the site had been reoccupied much
later than the destructive fire, during the T'ang era. But this tower and the
others Stein found dated from Former Han period, as noted in Annals from 101
BC. at that time they were needed for defense against the frequent Hun raids.
On 23 March Stein set out once again toward the north-west. After moving 16
miles they reached the next tower, YII, described by Dr. Hedin. This one was also similar to the Han
wall towers and also had adjacent quarters pl 38. It was on an artificial
platform 12 feet above its surroundings. The tower remained about 20 high and
originally was probably 20 feet square. It was built of the similar bricks
15x7x8 inches with reed layers each 16 inches. The reinforced masonry facing
was about 2 feet thick but fallen on the northern side. The nearby quarters
measured 27 by 19 feet. The platform was extended by a well-built revetment and
there were two approach ramps which Stein considered excellent examples of
Chinese engineering skill. Next day Stein abandoned search for springs and
towers apparently missed in passing and set out for the next visible tower ,Y
was a pyramid with base 55 feet square and 20 feet at a remaining height of 30
feet built of typical bricks 15x8x3 inches. But there were posts jutting up
from the top indicating that the original height was at least 10 more feet
Stein noted strong construction from strong timbers. It was designed as a watch
and signaling tower.
About 5 miles further, he found another tower YIV . This
one was similar to the last but had decayed much more but still remained to a
height of 30 feet. Up to 10 feet the construction was of single layers of
bricks with reeds between them. Further up the reeds were only between every 5
or 6 brick courses. And there were vertical and horizontal timbers.
After moving on for 4 miles Stein found another tower Y V. It originally was
likely 24 feet square, built of alternating layers of reed fascines 3 inches
deep and earth layers 2 inches deep. It was very badly ruined, standing only 12
feet high. The whole tower had slide down the tamarisk cone on which it was
On 25 March they followed a track to the Konche-darya during which move they
met Ibrahim, a local hunter, who then served well as a local guide. Ibrahim
guided them to a very badly damaged tower Y VI, set among tamarisk cones, that
they otherwise would have missed. Still, it was 22 feet high.
On 26 March Stein departed camp at Gherilghan-kol to investigate two more
towers (called Sanje and Yar-karaul) before reaching district headquarters at
Kara-kum. Sanje, Y VII, was
constructed of solid brick masonry. Only the northern face remained in tact to
a height of 25 feet. Stein found that there was an inner core some 35 feet
square at its base with an outer addition to 57 feet square. Both
parts were of bricks 15x8x3 inches with reed layers between each 4 courses.
Stein assessed this tower as from Former Han dynasty era. In the refuse he
found several pieces of lacquered leather scale armor. A few empty graves were
They moved on to the watch tower called Yar-karaul YVIII located on one of a
series of mesas 50 feet high and 112 yards long (yars).
plan 38 again. Only the southern wall, 4 feet thick, remained standing to a
height of 10 feet. The tower was about 19 feet square at the base and built of
the same size bricks. They continued on to reach Kara-kum after dark, having
traveled 31 miles that day even with the two stops to excavate the two
Section IV - The Territory of Wei'li
and the Modern Kara-kum
Stein remained at Kara-kum for two days. He associated this area with the
ancient Chinese Wei-li kingdom, mentioned in the former Han Annals, just north
of the Shan-shan and Chu-mo kingdoms. The Kara-kum district extends from near
Korla along the Konche-darya to below Tikenlik. At that time it held 2000
families. The town is not mentioned in the Annals of the Later Han but its king
is listed among others defeated by Pan Ch'ao in 94 AD. It is again mentioned in
the Wei lio written between AD 239-265. and again in the T'ang annals.
Its importance stems from its location as a cultivated link between Charkhlik,
Tsaidam and Tun-huang to the south and Korla and regions north of the
Taklamakan. (And today it is still on the main highway between those places.)
Stein was particularly interested in the several shifts for the location of the
district headquarters that resulted in its placement at Kara-kum. He was able
to interview the retired district magistrate, Huang Ta-lao-yeh, a Tungan from
Urumchi. This official explained the details of local cultivation and the
problems with expanding colonization toward Lop. Chief among them was not the
water supply, but rather that irrigation and cultivation soon brought salt up
from below the surface. Another problem stemmed from the character of the
'colonists' brought from distant oases around the Taklamakan. For the most part
these individuals were either lazy or independent souls used to roaming and not
sedentary heavy agricultural work. These folk would drift away after a couple
years of expending the initial government payment given to attract them. At the
same time these colonization efforts were a source of profits for the Yamen
officials who extracted their part from the same government payments. Stein
examined the agricultural plots and interviewed many farmers to confirm the
assessment from the Amban. He found another ruined watch tower nearby. There
was a tower at Suget-bulak Y IX.
Stein summarizes his conclusions about the line of towers and its construction
as part of the Chinese expansion across the northern route between the
Taklamakan desert and the T'ien shan mountains. He mentions also the two
similar towers he found near Ming-oi in 1908 as described in Serindia. He notes
the close geographic connection between the towers near Korla and those he had
just visited west from Ying-p'an. The Kara-shahr valley was a strategic passage between the
Chinese colonies being developed south of the T'ien-shan and the Hun grazing
regions to its north.
From Suget-bulak Stein passed through excellent and prosperous agricultural
areas fed by a canal from near Korla. map 21. He reached Korla on 30 March. The
section concludes with another detailed list of objects found at the six watch
Section I - Along the Foot of the
three surveyors all joined him at Korla. Lal Singh had surveyed the rugged
western Kuruk-tagh, Muhammad Yaqub had completed his survey in the Turfan
depression and then begun survey around Lake Baghrash, and Afraz-gul had
surveyed the route from Tikenlik to Korla. Stein was busy there preparing for
the next phase of the expedition. He comments that he has already inserted the
information about Korla itself in Serindia.
On 6 April the teams set out westward over the 938 miles to Kashgar. Lal Singh
was sent north to survey a route through the foothills and as high up in the
T'ien-shan as he could. Muhammad Yaqub was sent south to survey the Konche and
Inchike Daryas and then the Yarkand darya clear to Yarkand. With him went the
best camels in order that they might be rejuvenated before being sold.
Afraz-gul will travel with Stein to do what plane-table survey time will
permit. Stein rushed along the main routes in order to reach Kashgar by May.
Stein notes, that in view of his rush and that the places along the high road
had been explored and reported on by many other writers he will confine himself
to general remarks about what he sees.
Just past the edge of the cultivated area near Durbil Stein found the first
small fort, with walls 16 feet thick of stamped clay still reaching 26 feet
high. At a further 16 miles he found a ruined watch-tower reduced to a mass of
clay, but its base platform was still 53 feet square with a height of 18 feet.
On this was the remains of the tower 26 feet square and 8 feet high built of
the same size bricks as found at the other towers. Surrounding this platform
was the remanent of a enclosing wall. Stein estimated it was from the Han
Dynasty. The next day they reached Charchi after 22 traveling miles. They
continued on 8 April to Eshme.
Section II - The Seat of the Protector-General
Ten miles from Eshme Stein reached Chadir, a larger town. map20 A further 10
miles from the edge of Chadir cultivation brought them to Yangi-hissar oasis
with a population estimated at 800 families. This oasis owed its importance to
a route from it leading north to the Yulduz plateau in the mountains; a favored
Mongol trade route. Lal Singh surveyed this route up to 11,800 feet in the
pass. At Yangi-hissar Stein surveyed north to Ak-tam and then to Bugar while
Afraz-gul surveyed south to Aghrak and then to Bugar. Afraz-gul found the ruin
of a small fort at Aghrak. Stein found two small ruins at Ak-tam, the crossed
the Kizil River to the south-west and reached Bugar. They halted for a day a
this district headquarters, a sizable town governing some 4000 families. The
Bugar 'old town' ruin was an enclosure 300 yards square of decayed earthen
ramparts mostly only 10-12 feet high. But part of the western side still rose a
full 18 feet with its top 22 feet wide holding a parapet. Stein considered it
was from Muhammadan era. Afraz-gul took a southern route to Kucha along which
he found another, similar fort some 260 by 240 yards in circumference, called
Koyuk-shahr . map21 - At this point Stein briefly stops his narration to
address again the ancient Chinese annals at length from which he concludes that
the Bugur area was the location stated for the residence of the 'Protector
General' who was to command Chinese garrisons circa 100 -60 BC.
From Bugur to Kucha
On 12 April Stein left Bugur moving directly west to Kucha. A few miles on he
came to a massive watch -tower inside a walled enclosure
as Lai-su-tura. This one was 48 feet square and still 47 feet high constructed
of the same size bricks. A hundred yards to the north he found the remains of a
fort whose walls had mostly eroded but originally was about 192 yards square
with the remaining wall segments 10 feet thick. One corner tower remained in
the south-west corner 39 feet square at base and to a height of 26 feet.
Stein's main purpose in finding these watch towers and forts was to confirm
that he was on the ancient direct caravan route to Kucha. Another 2 miles west
he found the remains of a stupa and another enclosure also on102 by
84 feet in circumference. This one he identified as Muhammadan. He halted to
camp at Yangi-abad, a hamlet with 18 families.
On 13 April he set out again for Kucha. He soon found another watch-tower (KV)
feet square at its base and 29 feet high with a 13 feet square guard room
having 4 feet thick walls. The
bricks again were the same as other towers as well as the timber reinforcing.
Further west he found yet another walled enclosure KVI. This
one had one enclosure 57 by 48 yards within another one. Both four-foot thick
walls were of the same size bricks. At a further 2.5 miles distance west Stein
found the next ruin (KVII) a
small enclosure 22 feet square with walls 10 feet high of the 18x8x3 inch
bricks. Another 800 yards west was a larger enclosure 94 feet square (KVIII)
with walls 5 feet thick and 13 feet high in places. The bricks were 12x6x3
inches. There was a gate on the southern side, protected by an outer wall.
There were 12 foot square bastions at the southwest and east corners.
Kucha I - The Oasis in its Geographical Aspects and the
Position of its Ancient Capital
Stein begins his discussion of Kucha with the T'ang records and the
significance of Kucha's geographic location. He mentions that the town still
has an old wall that existed in sections around it with a rampart of stamped
clay 60 feet wide at base and remaining height of 18 feet, with some sections
to 23 feet. There were small, square bastions at intervals along the wall. A
massive tower, named Pilang-tura was located 3/4 mile from the south-eastern
corner. This was built on a stamped clay base 37 feet high out of bricks
16x8x3.5 inches . The tower was 82 long by 70 feet wide at its top plan 39.
Ruined Sites West of the Muz-art River
On 20 April he began touring sites south-west and west of the cultivated area,
guided by Mir Sharif. A few miles out of town they found Kosh-tura, a tower
with remaining height of 54 feet. The tower was 95 feet wide on its northern
side, 82 feet on the eastern side, but the other two sides were decayed. At 25
feet elevation the masonry recedes to form terraces .Stein pronounced this a
Buddhist shrine. The bricks were 15x12x4 inches in size. A few yards to the
south-west he found another mound 32 feet square and 36 feet high.
On 21 April Stein moved further west to the Toksun area to another ruin named
Kalmak-shahr. It was a small fort some 100 feet wide with a wall 14 feet high
and 13 to 3 0 feet wide at its base. Stein skipped several other ruins to
follow the Khotan route southwest to Dash-tughemen. He found another ruined
outpost named Ak-tiken-shahr about 90 yards square. Traversing 27 miles on the
21st he reached a new camp at Shahidlar.
On 22 April he turned again south to find Tonguz-bash. The
walls here were about 168 yards on each side with various bastions all built of
sun-dried bricks 15x8x3.5 inches. The walls were 18 feet thick and 18-20 feet
high. There were gates on north and south sides protected by curtains and an
outer court. Stein found no structural remains in this fort. But the refuse
dumps contained the usual small artifacts, Stein dated to the T'ang Dynasty as
an outpost to guard the route from Khotan.
On 23 April he moved to see several small ruins to the north. These included
another enclosure 168 by 153 feet with a wall 15 feet thick and in places 20
-22 feet high, plus bastions. (plan 40) Further north he passed Topa-shahr to
Wang-yari, where he found a cemetery. Another 4 miles away he found an unusual
enclosure, named Och-kat, about a mile in diameter that had a triple ring of
ramparts. The outer rampart was in places 78 feet thick and 15 feet high. The
second ring was 52 feet thick. Stein could not account for this unusual
On 24 April he continued on to Tajik and Toghrak-akin. At Kosh-tura he found
another tower 45 feet square at base and 34 feet high constructed of clay
slabs. To the north 86 yards away was a ruined platform about 46 by 42 feet and
18 feet high. He found evidence of a shrine on the top. Mir Sharif informed him
that in past years there had been walls with remains of painting. Some 60 yards
to the east was another enclosure. From Kosh-tura Stein went west to Tajik
Remains South-east of Kucha
On 30 April he visited the ruin at Kotgluk-ordu.
On 1 May he moved on to Khanak-atam where he met Afraz-gul. The latter had
found several more enclosures during his survey from Yulduz-bagh.
On 2 May Mir Sharif took Stein to another ruin named Chong-shahr, an oval
earthen rampart 10 feet high and 340 yards on its major axis. Next to it was a
mound 70 yards across and 30 feet high. Another small enclosure 398 feet square
with walls 7 feet thick lay to the north-east.
On 3 May they continued east-north east to find yet another small, oblong
enclosure 200 yards north to south with 15 feet high walls. Stein mentions more
enclosures seen by himself or Afraz-gul.
Old Remains within the Bai District
On 9 May he left the road to Bai to take a northern route to the ruin at
Tezak-kaghe Ming-oi He
found the paintings on the cave walls had deteriorated
sufficient remained to identify the caves as Buddhist shrines. A ruined
building of stamped clay 40 by 26 yards remained on the top of a small ridge.
The end of this ridge contained remains of a walled village 140 by 100 yards,
protected by a ditch across the ridge and a stone wall. He camped at Jigdalik
(map 12) and on 13 May visited the cave shrines. There
were four cave-shrines close together and others scattered in side ravines.
They contained only tracings of wall paintings. Plan
Jig I where Sahib Ali, Stein's friend and Kucha Ak-sakal had dug up the mass of
documents years ago and sent them to Sir George Macartney. The cave was 12 by
14 feet complete with door and window. There were still fragments of Brahmi
documents that Stein retrieved. Another cave, Jig II in the plan, contained
remnants of painted plaster images including a seated Buddha. Stein found more
caves on the other, eastern, side of the ravine one of which, Jig III, he shows
in the plan. Stein considered that it was the presence of springs in this
location which had enabled to establishment of these Buddhist shrines. This was
the final archeological exploration Stein undertook during this expedition.
Past Ak'su and Maral-bashi to Kashgar
Stein covered the remaining 150 miles in six days. He describes as always the
topography and vegetation along the road. He found two ruined forts at
Old Remains in Wakhan
With this section Stein enters Russian Central Asia, now Tajikistan - Tajik
On 1 September he reached the confluence of the two branches of the Oxus
flowing from the Great Pamir and Sarhad. Nearby to the east on a rocky ridge he found the massive walls
of a fort above the hamlet, Hissar.His sketch plan shows that the approach to the fort is on the south-west side,
the others being too precipitous to climb. It was about 140 yards long and 75
yards wide at the widest place. The well built walls were 6 feet thick at the
top. There were oblong bastions and small rooms within. The
locals claimed the fort was built by 'Kafirs', that is long prior to the
arrival of Islam. Stein estimated that the method of construction could well
support that idea. A mile west of Hissar there was another hamlet, Zang, above
which on a steep spur 1000 feet above the village was another ruined fort,
called Zangibar. This one was oblong about 60 by 25 yards
of stone slabs . The
lower 6-7 feet were courses set in hard plaster, above these the stonework was
much rougher. There was a small square bastion on the northern face.
On 2 September Stein continued down the valley closely matching the topography
to Hsiung-tsang's description. He passed the Kala-i-Panja
location of the main Afghan post. Next he passed Ishmarg,
which he viewed the Hindukush far to the south. He stopped to camp at Warang -
elevation 9,700 feet. Near
there Stein visited another hill-top fort on a spur north-west. This
one consisted of a stone wall across the narrow end of a spur defended on both
sides by sheer cliffs. The enclosure was 108 by 20 yards with a tower.
During his day at Yamchin Stein surveyed another hill fortress at
also was 1000 feet above the valley floor on a steep spur. The first line of
defense is about 400 feet up the slope in which there is a gate flanked by
round towers. There is a wall 4 feet thick and in places 11 feet high across
the spur to the cliff. The wall ajoins the inner wall that is 6 feet thick in
places. Round towers, one of which is 13 feet in diameter, guard this wall as
well. All the walls are built of unhewn stone set in mud plaster. But the
towers are of sun-dried bricks 12x9x4 inches with walls 6 feet thick containing
loop holes 12 inches wide on the inside and 8 inches wide on the outside. The
second wall line is from the edge of the Yamchin ravine. On the other side is
another fort, Zulkhomar . From
the cliff edge the main wall goes 450 yards across the width of the spur. This
wall is 4.5 to 5 feet thick with loop holes and is 1-15 feet high in places. It
has 17 towers many
of which are round with 13 foot diameters. Fig shows a section of double wall and several towers. Interior
walls and a quadrangular bastion that flanks the re-entering angle of the wall
suggest provision for separate defense. The line of the wall curves to a massive tower at the top of the
knoll and then turns NNW across a small dip in the western flank of the spur.
The edge of the gorge there is protected by another tower 15 feet in diameter
of bricks 16x11x5 inches . Below is a massive oblong outwork This
wall has decorative bricks set on edge. Further north the wall curves round
defended by three round towers. One of these still has sockets for the beams of
a second floor. And it has a double row of loop holes. The wall continues up
for almost 400 more feet to the southern corner of the triangular citadel
48 is a
detailed sketch of this fort, extends a further 130 yards north. At the point
where its two longer sides meet there is a kind of ravelin
massive square tower that guards the approach from the plateau. That ground is
separated from the citadel by a 120 feet deep ravine. The citadel walls are
built of stone slabs set in plaster. Its 3.5 feet thick and 13 feet high outer
walls are loopholed and have a 1.2 feet wide parapet. The walls also have
circular towers and there are rooms inside. Opposie the eastern end of the main
walls is a small rock island and
plan 47 on which is another small fort with massive walls called Zulkhomar.
Stein surmises that these fortresses date from the Zoroastrian era. Whatever
their date, Stein notes that the extensive and excellent construction points to
the ability of a much larger local population at that time then is now present.
On 5 September Stein continued down the Wakhan valley to Shitkhar
he met Qazi Qadam Shah, who helped him obtain samples at Ishkashm of the Galach
language. Further on he came to a steep cliff At this dangerous point a demon was wont to kill passerby until
driven away by a saint. From there they crossed a narrow canon by a bridge to
reach Darshai. North of the bridge on another rocky ridge Stein found more
also was locally known as a "kafir" fort.
Through Ishkashm and Gharan
On 7 September Stein remained at Namadgut and on the 8th he visited another
fort, called Qala-i-Qa'qa. Stein describes this fortress in great detail and provides real,
professional military engineering analysis of its purposes of which I only
include a partial summary. This was also on a pair of east-west rocky ridges
above the river and separated from mountains further north by a plateau.
larger (northern) ridge reaches 400 feet above the river and 225 feet above the
plateau. The cliffs are extremely steep. The southern ridge shown here is
shorter and separated from the parallel northern one by a depression
Beginning at the eastern end, the outer wall is of sun-dried 14-15 x10 -
11x3.5-4 inches brick close up to the cliff but only 3-3.5 feet thick. The wall
has both round and square towers of bricks on a stone foundation. The line of
loop hole was low. They were 3 feet 3 inches up the wall on the inside and 2
feet 3 inches up on the outside, indicating they were designed for shooting
down. They were 7-8 inches wide. Along the eastern and northern sides there was
a parallel second wall 6 feet away. Toward the west the ridge was not so high
and there the wall was much thicker (16 to 33 feet), a solid rampart of
sun-dried bricks. In
the corner was a massive circular tower 25 feet high.
north west corner the rampart turned south south west to cross a gap between
the two ridges. Two square bastions appear on the sketch plan. These, built on
stone foundations extend outside the wall 20 feet. The wall here and the
bastions were faced with solid bricks 16x9x4 inches with interiors of layers of
stamped clay and thin layers of brushwood. The wall that closed this gap then
continued to the south to the foot of the precipice at the western end of the
smaller ridge. There, was a ravelin of massive brick work. From the eastern end
of this out work the wall descends toward the river strengthened by two more
Further down the wall has three more towers that may have guarded a gate. There is an outlying tower 25 feet
high. Much of the rest of the former wall is gone. Stein believes it originally
extended along the river up to a traverse wall and up from a tower shown in . At
the tower on the left in 414 the outer wall leaves the river to ascend to a
terrace on the main ridge and then to the east to a huge tower. The
main wall then turns to the north with a gap for a gate. The tower has loop
holes seen in Fig
the southern ridge. shows
this part of the walls also. From corner xii the secondary wall turns at right
angles to the northwest and goes up the narrow crest to the citadel. This one
is build of bricks 18x14x3 inches and is 8 to 10 feet high. There are three
more round towers guarding the connecting wall. The walls of the citadel
conform to the terrain. They enclose an area about 150 by 40 yards. On the
highest point, 350 feet above the river there is another structure with two
rooms, one 28x19 feet and the other 19x11 feet. Its well-built walls are 3 feet
On 8 September Stein finished his survey of the fort to visit the Ziarat of
Hazrat of Shah-i-mardan, nearby. Then he headed further down the river to Nut,
the Russian outpost across the river from Ishkashm. Nut is located at elevation of 8,400 feet above
sea level and 400 feet above the river giving it a fine view of the other side
On 10 September Stein left Nut to follow the Oxus around its sharp bend to
Shughnan. He came upon another walled enclosure on a crest 500 feet above the
river about 7 miles from Nut. The walls were of stone slabs with a few loop holes
In the Valleys of Shughnan
. He stopped at the village fort of Rachkala, 8,400 feet and the headquarters
of the Mirs of Shakh-dara. .
Further on he passed more "kafir' forts and outposts.
On 18 September Stein continued through mountain valleys. There was another
ruined fort above Jaushangaz .
On 20 September Stein continued down the Ghund valley passing forts of the
Shughnan mirs at Sardim, Wang and Charsim. In
Charsim he found an interesting house of the local Ak-sakal just like those in
From Roshan to Darwaz
On 21 September Stein left Shitam to cross the Shitam into
Roshan where he camped at 12,600 feet.
At Kala-i-Wamar he examined the home of the Ming-bashi, Mir Shikran. He
described this as an example of late Hellenistic and Saracenic design. He was
invited to inspect the inside which he described in a lengthy footnote, as
being similar to those in Yasin and Chitral. The neighboring castle had thick outer walls of stone reinforced
by heavy timbers.
On 30 September Stein reached Rokhar, the main village of Wanj at 5,600 feet
where he found another ruined castle.
- Past the Perso-Afghan Border
The following sections are about the fortifications Stein found in south east
Persia - Sistan. This map shows he routes and names many of the ruins he found.
And this one shows the locations of many
watch stations described below Along
the way he passed ancient forts and shrines such as this madrasah built by Shah
Rukh in 1444. and
On 20 November Stein halted in Bamrud, a village said to be immune from Afghan
raiders due to payment of protection money, since a current Afghan raid of the
area was in progress. He passed a large fortified ruin at Tabbas-i-Mazena.
Into the Helmand Basin
Readers now who have served in Afghanistan may be interested to learn that the
Helmand River, the scene of much fighting, flows south-west into Iran where it
disappears in marshes.
On 27 November Stein passed another ruined fort at Duruh village and a larger
one at Ghala-koh, on a bold, issolated peak . A few miles further he came to a 6,200 foot peak on which was
Ghalakoh fortress. The inside was composed of rooms about 11-12 feet square.
There was a rock-cut cistern. The outer walls remained to 5 feet high.
- The Remains of Koh-i-Khwaja - see map
This section may prove of considerable interest. However I have omitted Stein's
very detailed descriptions of each section and building in this large complex.
On 6 December Stein departed from the British Consulate at Nasatabad to visit
isolated hill containing much-frequented Muhammadan shrines on its top. The
ruin at its base was called Ghagha-shahr. The plateau
mile long and nearly as wide. The cliffs are steep. and and
There is a narrow ridge to the south east. The
main fortress wall is built of sun-dried bricks enclosing an area 170 by 130
yards. The gate was on the south eastern corner and
protected by one octagonal and one round tower. Inside was a roadway and high
Further on was an arched gateway. Beyond the wall was an entrance hall. The
hall has an apsidal end.Two
more buildings are at and
Buttress walls are divided by narrow vaulted recesses of two
another wall were stucco figures in flat relievos of horsemen and a lion. A small room is in the western corner of the terrace
Stein found a Doric column on the second buttress. and
Remains on the Hill-top
This section is a detailed description of the extensive fortifications,
cemetery and other buildings remaining on the top of Koh-i-Khwaja. Stein
provides a few photos as well. The northern fortress wall
plateau edge is 200 feet above the top of Ghagha-shahr ruins.
is a road up.It
leads to a small walled ruin Kok-i-Zal. An area of square, vaulted rooms totaling 50 by 30 yards is
enclosed by massive brick walls of large sun-dried bricks designed to protect
the area below from attack from above. Ascending further from the dip along the
wall for 50 yards one one finds a small mound Stein concluded this was the remains of a defensive tower
designed to guard the road. Another 160 yards is another tower just
above the end of the Ghagha-shahr wall, below. Moving
west along the plateau edge 1/3 mile one finds a ruined fort called
Chihil-dukhtaran (40 maidens) on the southern end of a tongue precipice and
valley with access to the plateau which the fort was to guard. This fortress
wall is of solid bricks in an oblong about 40 by 30 yards. The wall is loop
holed. There is a gate in the east face flanked by two small round towers of
which one still has its vaulting below the second story. And there are round
bastions on the corners. There is a long hall, formerly vaulted, along the
inside of the western wall. About 80 yards to the north are the remains of
another, square enclosure of rough stones and there is a series of similar
rooms 20 more yards north. Elsewhere on the plateau are remains of Buddhist and
Muhammadan worship - the cause of the place being deemed sacred.
graves and shrines. The plateau is visited by thousands of pilgrims each year.
Remains at and near Shahristan
Shahristan is among the oldest sites with remains near the Helmand delta. It is
on a north-south detached ridge about a mile long above the plain and
fortified area on the south side is 800 by 250 yards. The massive walls are of
sun-dried bricks with
towers and bastions. At the northern end where the slope is easier there are
two ruined walls. Toward the south there was also a citadel 140 by 80 yards.
All the walls were greatly decayed indicating their ancient age. The bits of
pottery found there also indicated a very ancient age, predating Muhammadan
occupation and even Sasanian times.
Stein next visited ruins at Atish-kadak (the fire temple). These are on the
northern end of another ridge some 6 miles from the former site.
top of this ridge there was an enclosure 72 feet square with walls 4 feet
to it was another enclosure 32 feet square. Inside was a circular tower. At the
northern end was a more impressive structure. A hall 35 by 27 with walls 5 feet thick rising in places to 20
feet.. Stein found more towers in the vicinity.
The Site of Zahidan and Later Ruins to the North-west
Zahidan was an important ancient and medieval city, the capital of Sistan that
was captured by Timur in 1383 AD. It was about 6 miles north west of Shahristan
on another ridge. It was abandoned not long after Timur's attack. Stein
provides a plan. The
best preserved ruin there is the citadel with its massive towers and bastions.
This structure was an oblong fort with massive towers and semicircular bastions
plus two outer enclosures. They
were built of sun-dried bricks 12x6x2.5 inches on top of a stamped clay
foundation. The walls of the outer enclosure formed another irregular obling
cut off at its sosuthern end. It was over1.5 mileslong with maximum width of
.75 miles. These walls were a rampart of stampedclay that had held a parapet of
sun-dried bricks. This outer wall also had semi-circular bastions plus
quadrangular towers were the gate had been.
He also describes other ruins in the general area. About 300 yards NE was
another, smaller walled enclosure known at Kala-i-Timur with walls about 4-5
feet thick. More
ruins are shown here.and
In this section Stein describes ruins south of the Helmand River delta. The
area was some times part of Afghanistan. (Actually the 'border' between
Afghanistan and Iran was very fluid over the centuries.) He describes many
ruins, some of them forts or fortified villages, such as Kundar
another near Hauzdar . and
Hauzdar remains still reached 23 feet high and it was 50 by 35 feet
circumference. The sun-dried bricks were 22x12x4 inches. Surrounding the
central mound was an oval wall 50 to 70 feet from the mound with massive walls
10 -11 feet thick of bricks 20x12x3 inches in size. The potsherds indicated
great age, but it was also occupied during a later, historic era.
About 1.25 miles further south Stein found another ruin, Pai-kash-i-Rustam,
100 yards wide with a 20-foot high rampart, 40 to 80 feet thick. Only 6 yards
from the rampart was a rotunda with wal 6 feet thck of bricks 17x8x2.5 inches.
interior was 14.5 feet across. Stein found pottery remains he dated to Sasanian
era. Two miles from Hauzdar Stein found Machi ruins.
There he found a "Chigini (windmill) and a nearby a fortified mansion
Ramrud he found another fortified village. and
miles from Ramrud, he found an almost circular fort with diameter 160 yards and
walls 8 feet thick of bricks 13x14x3 inches. He found later repairs indicating
renewed occupation. And near this location he found more structures.
of the walls of Kalat-i-gird he saw terraces that reminded him of the Lop Desert. This area was rich
in ruins mostly from Muhammadan times.
Remains of Prehistoric Settlements
In addition to Muhammaden ruins Stein found copious amounts of pre-historic
potsherds and other bits and pieces lying on the open ground. Since this
section is focused on the prehistoric material found on the ground, he only
mentions the fortresses in passing, but he does mention them here and then
describe them in more detail in the next section. He photographed another ruin
called Burj-i-chakar and
he discovered was the first in a while line of watch towers. He found a section
at . Two
miles further he found another mesa on which was more pottery and then another outpost
Further south west there was a small fort
of these and others Stein describes in detail along with the items found at
them, many of which are also shown in the plates in Vol III. In conclusion
Stein notes that the geographic location of Sistan between the Indus
civilizations to the east, Mesopotamia to the west and the Caucasus - Caspian
area to the north makes it a likely location for the intermingling of these
- Ruins of an Ancient Border Line - map ,
Stein notes that these ruins were in the area in which he found the prehistoric
pottery and bones described in the previous section. So in this section he
focuses back on the forts themselves. First noted is Burj-i-chakar (RRiv),
located approximately in the center of the line, and
walls to 25 feet high and 7 feet thick. It was a two-story square, 60 feet on each side with 10 foot
wide towers in the corners. The interior was divided into three parallel
vaulted chambers 31 feet long, the central chamber 14 feet wide and the two
side chambers 10 feet 4 inches wide. The sun-dried bricks for the walls were
24x13x4 inches. And there were remaining curved bricks for the vaulting 28x7x2
inches.He found traces in the SE corner of a former stairway to the upper
floor. The second story rooms appear to have had windows.
Three miles to the north was another ruin (RRv)and plan 59 again. This one was 48 feet square with round towers
in the corners. It was about a mile and half behind the line of the wall at the
nearest tower RRxvii. The enclosing walls were 21 feet high in places, 4 feet
thick of bricks 25x13x4.5 inches, and it also had a second story.
Starting to the north-west Stein found RRxvii about 1.75 miles away.
plan 59. It was 60 feet square with walls 14 feet high in places, 5 feet thick
of bricks 20x12x4 inches, with quarters outside and a walled enclosure around
the whole place. The entrance was on the south side. To the south and north of
this fort and close by Stein found remains of other walls 4 feet thick
enclosing large areas. All these rined structures indicated that this post had
been very important. Stein devoted extra labor to excavation. The block of
quarters marked b near the south east corner measured about 110 by 55 feet.
Stein found no datable artifacs in the two rooms, but sleeping benches, fire
place and a place for baking bread. Stein concluded that this large enclosure
had formed a main garrison location.
Next fort to the north east was RRxvi. It was similar, with three internal
chambers and walls of 22x12x4 inch bricks. Another 1.5 vmiles north west was a
similar post RRxviii. The walls were 12 feet high in places, 4 feet thick of
bricks 24x12x4 inches. A further 3 miles was RRxviii with walls 12 high in
places. One more post RRxix was near the Hamun. Stein presumed this was the
last one in that direction.
Returning to the southern part of the line of watch -stations, Stein found the
next post (marked RRiva)a half mile from RRiv. It was almost totally decayed,
but Stein estimated it had been 64 feet square. Another 1.25 miles east was
ruin RRxii, about 43 by 40 feet in size. The next post, RRxiia, was a mile to
the SSE. After another 1.25 miles Stein found RRxiii, 64 feet square with
remaining wall sections 10 feet high. The next station , RRxiv, Plan 59 was
another half mike south west was 77 by 54 feet with towers in the corners and a
fifth on the eastern side. The bricks were 24x13x4 inches. Another ruin, RRxx,
45 by 42 feet, was 1.5 miles further south.
Continuing south west Stein found RRxxi, which seemed to be the last post at
this end of the line there.
But after crossing 4 river beds Stein found several more numbered RRxxii,
RRxxiii, ( bricks 24x12x4 inches), RRxxiv and RRxxv.
last one was the best preserved, with walls 6 feet thick. Stein saw the wall
continued to the south east, but further into Afghanistan.
In total I count about 35 watch towers or forts in Sistan that Stein mentions
or describes in detail. Stein's conclusion was "A border line of this
character can obviously no have been meant to ward off attack by organied
forces, but only to protect the cultivated portion of the Helmand delta against
nomadic raiders." He could not reach a conclusion about the age of the
border line nor its builders, but believed it was built well before the
Muhammaden era. .
In early February Stein finished his exploration of Persian Sistan and headed
back to India - Baluchistan. He reached Koh-i-Malik Shah and then followed the
main caravan route. One of the small posts is