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Part of wooden panel or bar.


206 BCE to 220 CE

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height 35.4 centimetres, width 8.2 centimetres



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Scope and content : L.B. IV. v. 0012. Part of wooden panel or bar, carved in relief. Design, an undulating stem broken by a joint at each turn; a line of nail-head orn. running along its centre throughout. Each joint throws out three long lily-like leaves which palmette-like lie one beside the other in receding planes in hollow of stem. On convex side a single small leaf is thrown out. Work vigorous and well designed, style very Hellenistic. Ground sunk, leaving sq. moulding at one edge. Both edges finished, both ends broken. At one end is part of mortice transverse through thickness, 9/16″ wide, and in the back (surface split off) are marks of two dowel-holes for securing tenon. At same end but on other edge is part of mortice through the width. On broken edge mark of transverse dowel-hole. 1′ 2″ × 3 3/16″ × 1 5/16″. Pl. XXXIV. [Ser]


British Museum


Stein 1906-8

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[Serindia pp. 369-70] 'IN the early morning of December 18 my first task was to dispatch my transport according to a previously settled plan. The main convoy of camels was sent off, under Tokhta Akhun's guidance, to a salt-spring at the foot of the Kuruk-tagh north-westwards which he had discovered the year before, when accompanying Professor Huntington on his plucky expedition to Altmish-bulak, across the salt-encrusted old lake-bed, and which he appropriately called Yali^i-bulak. 'the New Spring'. There the camels were to get a rest and much-needed grazing while we were at our excavation labours. Five camels were to return to our half-way depot at Camp 121 and to fetch the supplies left there and such fresh ice as had been brought up by the auxiliary donkey column. Rai Ram Singh, provided with some camels, was to make a short surveying reconnaissance to the north-west and to ascertain the exact positions of the ruins which Dr. Hedin's popular narrative mentioned in that direction, but which the small-scale sketch-map attached to it did not show. Left to the undisturbed solitude of the site, I set out for a rapid survey of its ruins. Looking round from the high base of the Stupa below which my tent had been pitched, I had before me vistas which seemed strangely familiar and at the same time strikingly novel (Figs. 92, 93). To the south and south-west there rose in small clusters ruins of timber and plaster-built houses. These, with their bleached and splintered posts and the steep, debris-strewn slopes of the wind-eroded terraces on which they stood, curiously recalled well-remembered ruins at the Niya Site, though here the winds had generally left far less cover of protecting sand. But I was far more impressed by the difference in the setting. Around the scattered ruins of the Niya Site and their silent scenes of destruction the eye had found relief in the soft-lined expanse of swelling dunes and sand-cones which recalled the open sea. Here there was nothing for the eye to rest on but an endless succession of sharply-cut Yardangs of hard clay and deep-scoured trenches, all running in the same direction, just as that relentless north-east wind had sculptured them. It was, too, strangely like a picture of the sea, but of one frozen hard and buckled into innumerable pressure ridges. The view from the Stupa ranged freely over many miles of this dismal ground. But, apart from the ruins near, my powerful glasses showed no structural remains excepting a few scattered mounds, manifestly brick-built and badly decayed, in the distance to the north and north-west. It seemed strange that any structures at all, built of mere timber and wattle, should have survived the effects of such frightful erosion. But I did not stop at the time to think about the special reason which had saved them in the vicinity of the Stupa. Just as the ruins themselves, so the work to which I settled down at them combined both familiar and novel aspects. I knew beforehand that remains to be brought to light here dated approximately from the same period as those of the Niya Site, i.e. from about the third century A.D. The clearing the ruined structures of the sand and the hoped-for refuse accumulated within them, the careful search of the debris strewing the eroded slopes below, and so forth, were tasks to which not only myself but Naik Ram Singh and my faithful factotum Ibrahim Beg were fully accustomed. But there was for me this novel feature in the work that the wonted operations were to be conducted at a site which had already been searched, at least partially, by an earlier European explorer. Dr. Hedin's popular narrative of his journey of 1899-1901 had, by its chapters on 'The ruins of ancient Lop-nor' and 'Lou-lan', and particularly by the excellent illustrations accompanying them, familiarized me with the general features of the ruins which a lucky chance had led him to discover in March, 1900, on his first crossing of the desert from Altmish-bulak, and with the remains which a second visit, paid specially for this purpose, had allowed him to bring to light in March, 1901. He had made important discoveries, and though they had not yet received full expert analysis, the antiquarian evidence which they yielded was in many respects assured beyond doubt. But it was obvious that a thorough exploration of the site, or even of a portion of it, had remained beyond the range of the operations of its first discoverer. Dr. Hedin, out of a total stay of six days on his second visit, had been able to give only three to actual excavation at the eastern group of ruins, and a fourth at the western. He had the services of only five men besides himself, and not one in the whole party had previous experience of, or special training for, such work, while the ruins to be searched were numerous and widely scattered. The need of a systematic archaeological exploration of the site was thus clearly established from the first. But there remained the question how much the site thus 'researched' would still furnish in new facts, observations, and finds. The hope which my first rapid inspection of the eastern group of ruins (designated thereafter as L.A.) had raised was fully justified by the results of the work carried on here without intermission between December 18 and 23. In describing them, I propose to follow the chronological order in which the various structures were searched by us, and to add what observations I have to make regarding the general character of the ancient Chinese station represented by the ruins of L.A. Most of these structures had been examined by Dr. Hedin, and a number of them searched by his men either under his supervision or without it. In Chapters XLIV, XLV of his scientific publication, Dr. Hedin has given a description of 'the ruined houses of Lou-lan' as he saw them, together with such measurements as he was able to take, and a number of very instructive photographs. But as the survey and excavations carried out were affected by the limitations of time and labour already mentioned, as well as by other obvious drawbacks, I have not thought it necessary to discuss the details of his observations except where they contain evidence which was no longer obtainable on my visit. Nor have I felt it incumbent on me to examine the abundant inferences, except where they might claim special antiquarian or geographical interest and could be supported by critically admissible archaeological arguments. It has not been possible for me to compare in detail or otherwise utilize the valuable finds of MS. remains and other antiques brought back by Dr. Hedin from this site, as the special section of his large work in which the late Professor A. Conrady and Herr Himly were to have given the results of their examination of these materials has so far not been published. In regard to them my information is restricted to the preliminary notes published by the last-named scholar in 1902, and these are necessarily too brief and provisional in character to warrant detailed analysis here by the side of the abundant new materials which the site has since furnished.'

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