Garrisons of the Han dynasty
Woven silk textile from Tomb No. 1 at Mawangdui, Changsha, Hunan province, China, dated to the Western Han Era, 2nd century BCE
The modern Tarim Basin and surrounding areas.
Chinese jade and steatite plaques, in the Scythian-style animal art of the steppes. 4th–3rd century BCE. British Museum.
Dzungaria (Red) and the Tarim Basin or Altishahr (Blue)
Historical cities of the Tarim Basin
Achaemenid Persian Empire at its greatest extent, showing the Royal Road.
Northern Xinjiang (Junggar Basin) (Yellow), Eastern Xinjiang- Turpan Depression (Turpan Prefecture and Hami Prefecture) (Red) and Altishahr/the Tarim Basin (Blue)
Asia in 1 CE. The Western Regions were at the centre of the map (south-west of the Xiongnu)
Soldier with a centaur in the Sampul tapestry, wool wall hanging, 3rd–2nd century BCE, Xinjiang Museum, Urumqi, Xinjiang, China.
Physical map showing the separation of Dzungaria and the Tarim Basin (Altishahr) by the Tien Shan Mountains
The Han dynasty (yellow) in 1 CE.
A ceramic horse head and neck (broken from the body), from the Chinese Eastern Han dynasty (1st–2nd century CE)
Map of Han Dynasty in 2 CE. Light blue is the Tarim Basin protectorate.
Modern Xinjiang, showing {{legend|blue|the Tarim Basin}}{{legend|red|Dzungaria}}.
Bronze coin of Constantius II (337–361), found in Karghalik, Xinjiang, China
Old Uyghur/Yugur art from the Bezeklik murals
1st century BC
The Silk Road transmission of Buddhism: Mahayana Buddhism first entered the Chinese Empire (Han dynasty) during the Kushan Era. The overland and maritime "Silk Roads" were interlinked and complementary, forming what scholars have called the "great circle of Buddhism".
The Tarim Basin in the 3rd century AD
Central Asia during Roman times, with the first Silk Road
A Sogdian man on a Bactrian camel. Sancai ceramic statuette, Tang dynasty
A Westerner on a camel, Northern Wei dynasty (386–534)
Mongol states from the 14th to the 17th centuries: the Northern Yuan dynasty, Four Oirat, Moghulistan and Kara Del
Map showing Byzantium along with the other major silk road powers during China's Southern dynasties period of fragmentation.
The Dzungar–Qing Wars, between the Qing Dynasty and the Dzungar Khanate
Coin of Constans II (r. 641–648), who is named in Chinese sources as the first of several Byzantine emperors to send embassies to the Chinese Tang dynasty
The Battle of Oroi-Jalatu in 1756, between the Manchu and Oirat armies
A Chinese sancai statue of a Sogdian man with a wineskin, Tang dynasty (618–907)
The Qing Empire ca. 1820
The empires and city-states of the Horn of Africa, such as the Axumites were important trading partners in the ancient Silk Road.
Scene from the 1828 Qing campaign against rebels in Altishahr
After the Tang defeated the Gokturks, they reopened the Silk Road to the west.
Yakub Beg, ruler of Yettishar
Marco Polo's caravan on the Silk Road, 1380
19th-century Khotan Uyghurs in Yettishar
Map of Eurasia and Africa showing trade networks, c. 870
Kuomintang in Xinjiang, 1942
The Round city of Baghdad between 767 and 912 was the most important urban node along the Silk Road.
Governor Sheng Shicai ruled from 1933 to 1944.
A lion motif on Sogdian polychrome silk, 8th century, most likely from Bukhara
The Soviet-backed Second East Turkestan Republic encompassed Xinjiang's Ili, Tarbagatay and Altay districts.
Yuan Dynasty era Celadon vase from Mogadishu.
Close to Karakoram Highway in Xinjiang.
Map of Marco Polo's travels in 1271–1295
Pamir Mountains and Muztagh Ata.
Port cities on the maritime silk route featured on the voyages of Zheng He.
Taklamakan Desert
Plan of the Silk Road with its maritime branch
Tianchi Lake
Yangshan Port of Shanghai, China
Black Irtysh river in Burqin County is a famous spot for sightseeing.
Port of Trieste
Kanas Lake
Trans-Eurasia Logistics
Largest cities and towns of Xinjiang
The Silk Road in the 1st century
Statue of Mao Zedong in Kashgar
The Nestorian Stele, created in 781, describes the introduction of Nestorian Christianity to China
Nur Bekri, Chairman of the Xinjiang Government between 2007 and 2015
Fragment of a wall painting depicting Buddha from a stupa in Miran along the Silk Road (200AD - 400AD)
The distribution map of Xinjiang's GDP per person (2011)
A blue-eyed Central Asian monk teaching an East-Asian monk, Bezeklik, Turfan, eastern Tarim Basin, China, 9th century; the monk on the right is possibly Tocharian, although more likely Sogdian.
Ürümqi is a major industrial center within Xinjiang.
Bilingual edict (Greek and Aramaic) by Indian Buddhist King Ashoka, 3rd century BCE; see Edicts of Ashoka, from Kandahar. This edict advocates the adoption of "godliness" using the Greek term Eusebeia for Dharma. Kabul Museum.
Wind farm in Xinjiang
A statue depicting Buddha giving a sermon, from Sarnath, 3000 km southwest of Urumqi, Xinjiang, 8th century
Sunday market in Khotan
Iconographical evolution of the Wind God. Left: Greek Wind God from Hadda, 2nd century. Middle: Wind God from Kizil, Tarim Basin, 7th century. Right: Japanese Wind God Fujin, 17th century.
Ürümqi Diwopu International Airport
Caravanserai of Sa'd al-Saltaneh
Karakorum highway
Sultanhani caravanserai
This flag (Kök Bayraq) has become a symbol of the East Turkestan independence movement.
Shaki Caravanserai, Shaki, Azerbaijan
"Heroic Gesture of Bodhisattvathe Bodhisattva", example of 6th-7th-century terracotta Greco-Buddhist art (local populations were Buddhist) from Tumxuk, Xinjiang
Two-Storeyed Caravanserai, Baku, Azerbaijan
Sogdian donors to the Buddha, 8th century fresco (with detail), Bezeklik, Eastern Tarim Basin
Bridge in Ani, capital of medieval Armenia
A mosque in Ürümqi
Taldyk pass
People engaging in snow sports by a statue of bodhisattva Guanyin in Wujiaqu
Medieval fortress of Amul, Turkmenabat, Turkmenistan
Christian Church in Hami
Zeinodin Caravanserai
Catholic Church in Urumqi
Sogdian man on a Bactrian camel, sancai ceramic glaze, Chinese Tang dynasty (618–907)
Temple of the Great Buddha in Midong, Ürümqi
The ruins of a Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE) Chinese watchtower made of rammed earth at Dunhuang, Gansu province
Taoist Temple of Fortune and Longevity at the Heavenly Lake of Tianshan in Fukang, Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture
A late Zhou or early Han Chinese bronze mirror inlaid with glass, perhaps incorporated Greco-Roman artistic patterns
Emin Minaret
A Chinese Western Han dynasty (202 BCE – 9 CE) bronze rhinoceros with gold and silver inlay
Id Kah mosque in Kashgar, largest mosque in China
Han dynasty Granary west of Dunhuang on the Silk Road.
Erkin Tuniyaz, the incumbent Chairman of the Xinjiang Government
Green Roman glass cup unearthed from an Eastern Han dynasty (25–220 CE) tomb, Guangxi, southern China

These areas would later be termed Altishahr (southern Xinjiang, excluding Dzungaria) by Turkic-speaking peoples.

- Protectorate of the Western Regions

The network began with the Han dynasty's expansion into Central Asia around 114 BCE, which largely pacified the once untamed region.

- Silk Road

The most well-known route of the historic Silk Road ran through the territory from the east to its northwestern border.

- Xinjiang

The Chinese sought to control the Western Regions in order to keep the Xiongnu away from Inner China, and to control the valuable Silk Road trade that passed through the area.

- Protectorate of the Western Regions

Between the 2nd century BCE and 2nd century CE the Han Empire established the Protectorate of the Western Regions or Xiyu Protectorate (西域都護府) in an effort to secure the profitable routes of the Silk Road.

- Xinjiang

The southern stretches of the Silk Road, from Khotan (Xinjiang) to Eastern China, were first used for jade and not silk, as long as 5000 BCE, and is still in use for this purpose.

- Silk Road
Garrisons of the Han dynasty

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The Tarim Basin is the oval-shaped desert in Central Asia.

Tarim Basin

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Endorheic basin in Northwest China occupying an area of about 888,000 km2 and one of the largest basins in Northwest China.

Endorheic basin in Northwest China occupying an area of about 888,000 km2 and one of the largest basins in Northwest China.

The Tarim Basin is the oval-shaped desert in Central Asia.
Physical map showing the separation of Dzungaria and the Tarim Basin (Taklamakan) by the Tien Shan Mountains
Tarim basin ancient boats; they were used for burials
NASA landsat photo of the Tarim Basin
The Tarim Basin, 2008
Tarim Basin in the 3rd century
Tarim mummies, found in westernmost Xinjiang, within the Tarim Basin.
Fragmentary painting on silk of a woman playing the go boardgame, from the Astana Cemetery, Gaochang, c. 744 AD, during the late period of Tang Chinese rule (just before the An Lushan Rebellion)
Map of Taizong's campaigns against the Tarim Basin oasis states, allies of the Western Turks.
A document from Khotan written in Khotanese Saka, part of the Eastern Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages, listing the animals of the Chinese zodiac in the cycle of predictions for people born in that year; ink on paper, early 9th century
Uyghur princes from the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves near Turpan, Kingdom of Qocho, 8th-9th centuries
An Islamic cemetery outside the Afaq Khoja Mausoleum in Kashgar
Subashi Buddhist temple ruins
Northern Xinjiang (Dzungar Basin) (yellow), Eastern Xinjiang - Turpan Depression (Turpan Prefecture and Hami Prefecture) (red), and the Tarim Basin (blue)
Uyghurs in Khotan
Fresco, with Hellenistic influences, from a stupa shrine, Miran
Painting of a Christian woman, Khocho (Gaochang), early period of Chinese Tang rule, 602–654 AD

Located in China's Xinjiang region, it is sometimes used synonymously to refer to the southern half of the province, or Nanjiang, as opposed to the northern half of the province known as Dzungaria or Beijiang.

However, the Yuezhi were assaulted and forced to flee from the Hexi Corridor of Gansu by the forces of the Xiongnu ruler Modu Chanyu, who conquered the area in 177-176 BC (decades before the Han Chinese conquest and colonization of western tip of Gansu or the establishment of the Protectorate of the Western Regions).

Recent research with help of GIS database have provided a fine-grained analysis of the ancient oasis of Niya on the Silk Road.