2000-yr-old settlement in NW China completes repair works

China’s cultural conservationists have completed emergency repair works on the ground remains believed to be ruins of the ancient Loulan kingdom in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Loulan was a prosperous settlement built around 2,000 years ago to serve traders transiting through the ancient Silk Road. However, with time, references to Loulan mysteriously disappeared. The site is today located in the wilderness of southern Xinjiang’s Ruoqiang County.

In 2019, conservationists found that the foundations of a pagoda and three houses unearthed in the ruins had collapsed to various extents. The structures were marred by cracks, holes and erosion.

The repair works that began in June this year consolidated ground structures of the three houses and the pagoda ruins.

Zhou Peng, a senior engineer at the Northwest Research Institute Co., Ltd. under the China Railway Engineering Group Ltd., said the company’s engineering team brought clay from nearby areas to carry out reinforcement works in order to prevent the ground remains from collapsing.

The engineers also worked with experts from the Chinese Academy of Sciences to digitally protect the remains, Zhou added.

“We created digital files containing the wall size of the remains as well as the thickness of rocks and soil. In case they are damaged by sandstorm-induced erosion in the future, we can analyze and study the electronic data to conduct repair works,” he said.

The square-shaped settlement has city walls, each measuring about 330 meters in length, with the pagoda built in the northeast corner. The house foundations are located in the west of the city ruins.

Archeologists believe the settlement was one of the capitals established by the Kingdom of Loulan, which was relocated several times due to changes in water resources, natural disasters, widespread diseases, or wars. It had disappeared completely by the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

The ruins of the mysterious city were discovered first by Swedish adventurer Sven Hedin in 1901.

Over the years, archeologists have discovered a large number of relics, such as the Han Dynasty (202 B.C.-220 A.D.) coins, bronze and lacquer wares and silk from the site.

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