A report on Xinjiang and Tarim Basin

The Tarim Basin is the oval-shaped desert in Central Asia.
Dzungaria (Red) and the Tarim Basin or Altishahr (Blue)
Physical map showing the separation of Dzungaria and the Tarim Basin (Taklamakan) by the Tien Shan Mountains
Northern Xinjiang (Junggar Basin) (Yellow), Eastern Xinjiang- Turpan Depression (Turpan Prefecture and Hami Prefecture) (Red) and Altishahr/the Tarim Basin (Blue)
Tarim basin ancient boats; they were used for burials
Physical map showing the separation of Dzungaria and the Tarim Basin (Altishahr) by the Tien Shan Mountains
NASA landsat photo of the Tarim Basin
Map of Han Dynasty in 2 CE. Light blue is the Tarim Basin protectorate.
The Tarim Basin, 2008
Old Uyghur/Yugur art from the Bezeklik murals
Tarim Basin in the 3rd century
The Tarim Basin in the 3rd century AD
Tarim mummies, found in westernmost Xinjiang, within the Tarim Basin.
A Sogdian man on a Bactrian camel. Sancai ceramic statuette, Tang dynasty
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)
Mongol states from the 14th to the 17th centuries: the Northern Yuan dynasty, Four Oirat, Moghulistan and Kara Del
Map of Taizong's campaigns against the Tarim Basin oasis states, allies of the Western Turks.
The Dzungar–Qing Wars, between the Qing Dynasty and the Dzungar Khanate
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
The Battle of Oroi-Jalatu in 1756, between the Manchu and Oirat armies
Uyghur princes from the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves near Turpan, Kingdom of Qocho, 8th-9th centuries
The Qing Empire ca. 1820
An Islamic cemetery outside the Afaq Khoja Mausoleum in Kashgar
Scene from the 1828 Qing campaign against rebels in Altishahr
Subashi Buddhist temple ruins
Yakub Beg, ruler of Yettishar
Northern Xinjiang (Dzungar Basin) (yellow), Eastern Xinjiang - Turpan Depression (Turpan Prefecture and Hami Prefecture) (red), and the Tarim Basin (blue)
19th-century Khotan Uyghurs in Yettishar
Uyghurs in Khotan
Kuomintang in Xinjiang, 1942
Fresco, with Hellenistic influences, from a stupa shrine, Miran
Governor Sheng Shicai ruled from 1933 to 1944.
Painting of a Christian woman, Khocho (Gaochang), early period of Chinese Tang rule, 602–654 AD
The Soviet-backed Second East Turkestan Republic encompassed Xinjiang's Ili, Tarbagatay and Altay districts.
Close to Karakoram Highway in Xinjiang.
Pamir Mountains and Muztagh Ata.
Taklamakan Desert
Tianchi Lake
Black Irtysh river in Burqin County is a famous spot for sightseeing.
Kanas Lake
Largest cities and towns of Xinjiang
Statue of Mao Zedong in Kashgar
Nur Bekri, Chairman of the Xinjiang Government between 2007 and 2015
The distribution map of Xinjiang's GDP per person (2011)
Ürümqi is a major industrial center within Xinjiang.
Wind farm in Xinjiang
Sunday market in Khotan
Ürümqi Diwopu International Airport
Karakorum highway
This flag (Kök Bayraq) has become a symbol of the East Turkestan independence movement.
"Heroic Gesture of Bodhisattvathe Bodhisattva", example of 6th-7th-century terracotta Greco-Buddhist art (local populations were Buddhist) from Tumxuk, Xinjiang
Sogdian donors to the Buddha, 8th century fresco (with detail), Bezeklik, Eastern Tarim Basin
A mosque in Ürümqi
People engaging in snow sports by a statue of bodhisattva Guanyin in Wujiaqu
Christian Church in Hami
Catholic Church in Urumqi
Temple of the Great Buddha in Midong, Ürümqi
Taoist Temple of Fortune and Longevity at the Heavenly Lake of Tianshan in Fukang, Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture
Emin Minaret
Id Kah mosque in Kashgar, largest mosque in China
Erkin Tuniyaz, the incumbent Chairman of the Xinjiang Government

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.

- Tarim Basin

Xinjiang is divided into the Dzungarian Basin in the north and the Tarim Basin in the south by a mountain range, and only about 9.7% of Xinjiang's land area is fit for human habitation.

- Xinjiang

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Turpan

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Tarim Basin in the 3rd century
Buddhist Uyghur king from Turpan attended by servants. Depicted in Dunhuang Mogao Caves, Western Xia Dynasty.
"Mughal embassy", seen by the Dutch visitors in Beijing in 1656. According to Lach & Kley (1993), modern historians (namely, Luciano Petech) think that the emissaries portrayed had come from Turpan, rather than all the way from the Moghul India.
A model of the Turpan water system, (karez) in the Turpan Water Museum: Water is collected from mountains and channeled underground to grape vinyaards.
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Youth Road (QingNianLu), a Turpan street shaded by grapevine trellises
Turpan North Railway Station
Turpan Railway Station
Wall painting from a Christian church, Qocho (Gaochang) 683–770 CE

Turpan (also known as Turfan or Tulufan,, تۇرپان) is a prefecture-level city located in the east of the autonomous region of Xinjiang, China.

Historically, many settlements in the Tarim Basin have been given a number of different names.

Tian Shan Mountains from space, October 1997, with Issyk-Kul Lake in Kyrgyzstan at the northern end

Tian Shan

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Large system of mountain ranges located in Central Asia.

Large system of mountain ranges located in Central Asia.

Tian Shan Mountains from space, October 1997, with Issyk-Kul Lake in Kyrgyzstan at the northern end
Tian Shan with the ancient silk road
Kyrgyzstan (borders marked in red) The indentation on the west is the Fergana Valley
Map of Tian Shan.
In the Karakol valley (Issyk-Kul Region, Kyrgyzstan)
Snow-capped peaks of the Tian Shan seen from an Issyk Kul Lake beach
Koldeneng Valley in Ili Prefecture

Tian Shan is north and west of the Taklamakan Desert and directly north of the Tarim Basin in the border region of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Xinjiang in Northwest China.

The "Xiaohe Mummy", exhibited in Xinjiang Museum, is one of the oldest Tarim mummies, dating more than 3800 years ago. The "Princess of Xiaohe" see below

Tarim mummies

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The "Xiaohe Mummy", exhibited in Xinjiang Museum, is one of the oldest Tarim mummies, dating more than 3800 years ago. The "Princess of Xiaohe" see below
Taklamakan Desert in the Tarim Basin.
Satellite image of the Taklamakan Desert
Sir Aurel Stein in the Tarim Basin, 1910
The Taklamakan Desert is very dry, which helped considerably in the preservation of the mummies.
Caucasoid mask from Lop Nur, China, 2000–1000 BCE
The Xiaohe mummy (not Princess of Xiaohe) exhibited in Xinjiang Museum - full view
"Tocharian donors", with light hair and light eye color, 7th century CE fresco, Qizil, Tarim Basin, Xinjiang, China.
Map of Eurasia showing the location of the Xiaohe cemetery, the Tarim Basin and the areas occupied by cultures associated with the settlement of the Tarim Basin.
Wooden tablet with an inscription showing Tocharian B in its Brahmic form. Kucha, China, 5th-8th century (Tokyo National Museum)
The Beauty of Loulan - closeup

The Tarim mummies are a series of mummies discovered in the Tarim Basin in present-day Xinjiang, China, which date from 1800 BC to the first centuries BC, with a new group of individuals recently dated to between c. 2100 and 1700 BC. The mummies, particularly the early ones, are frequently associated with the presence of the Indo-European Tocharian languages in the Tarim Basin, although the evidence is not totally conclusive and many centuries separate these mummies from the first attestation of the Tocharian languages in writing.

Portrait of Emperor Taizong of Tang on a hanging scroll, created during the Tang dynasty era, kept in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan

Emperor Taizong of Tang

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The second emperor of the Tang dynasty of China, ruling from 626 to 649.

The second emperor of the Tang dynasty of China, ruling from 626 to 649.

Portrait of Emperor Taizong of Tang on a hanging scroll, created during the Tang dynasty era, kept in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
A portrait of Emperor Yang of Sui, by the Tang court artist Yan Liben (600–673)
Portrait painting of Emperor Gaozu of Tang, father of Li Shimin
Armoured horseman, Tang dynasty
Emperor Taizong depicted giving an audience to Gar Tongtsen Yulsung, the ambassador of the Tibetan Empire, in a later copy of a painting by court artist Yan Liben (600–673 AD)
Detail of Yan Liben's painting on the reception of the Tibetan envoy, showing Tang Taizong
Fountain Memory, calligraphy of Emperor Taizong on a Tang stele.
Emperor Taizong's campaign against the oasis states
Fanciful modern representation of the Byzantine embassy to Tang Taizong in 643 CE.
According to the Xi'an Stele, Emperor Taizong recognized the Nestorian Church of the East, due to efforts of the Christian missionary Alopen in 635 CE.
The Sui dynasty tried to invade Goguryeo in 598, 612, 613 & 614. Taizong campaign (map) was in 645. Gaozong's campaigns were in 661, 667 & 668.
A bas-relief of a soldier and horse with elaborate saddle and stirrups, from the tomb of Emperor Taizong, c. 650. The relief shown here depicts "Autumn Dew," also known as "Whirlwind Victory" and is housed at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia, PA.
Tomb soldier figurine, Tang dynasty

In territorial extent, it covered most of the territories previously held by the Han dynasty and parts of modern Korea, Vietnam, Xinjiang, and Central Asian regions.

He also launched a series of campaigns against the oasis states of the Tarim Basin, and against the armies of their main ally, the Western Turks.

The Buddhist stupa of Gaochang ruins

Gaochang

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The Buddhist stupa of Gaochang ruins
Gaochang's location (close to Turpan) on the Silk Road
Manichaean priests, writing at their desks. Manuscript from Qocho. 8th/9th century
Wall painting from a Christian church, Qocho 683–770 CE
Uyghur princesses, cave 9, wall painting from Bezeklik caves
Man of Gaochang (高昌國, Turfan) in 番客入朝圖 (937-976 CE)
Armoured soldier from Gaochang, 8-9th century
The road leading in.
The ruins.
"Main prayer hall<ref>{{Cite web|url=https://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=18,4145,0,0,1,0|title = Buddhist Channel &#124; Travel}}</ref>".
"Main storage building".
Manichaean wall painting.

Gaochang (Old Uyghur: Qocho), also called Karakhoja, Qara-hoja, Kara-Khoja or Karahoja (قاراغوجا in Uyghur), was a ruined, ancient oasis city on the northern rim of the inhospitable Taklamakan Desert in present-day Xinjiang, China.

At this time the Gaoche was rising to challenge power of the Rouran in the Tarim Basin.

Domain and influence of Xiongnu under Modu Chanyu around 205 BC

Xiongnu

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The Xiongnu were a tribal confederation of nomadic peoples who, according to ancient Chinese sources, inhabited the eastern Eurasian Steppe from the 3rd century BC to the late 1st century AD. Chinese sources report that Modu Chanyu, the supreme leader after 209 BC, founded the Xiongnu Empire.

The Xiongnu were a tribal confederation of nomadic peoples who, according to ancient Chinese sources, inhabited the eastern Eurasian Steppe from the 3rd century BC to the late 1st century AD. Chinese sources report that Modu Chanyu, the supreme leader after 209 BC, founded the Xiongnu Empire.

Domain and influence of Xiongnu under Modu Chanyu around 205 BC
Asia in 200 BC, showing the early Xiongnu state and its neighbors
Plaque in the shape of a grazing kulan (wild ass), 2nd–1st century BC, Northwest China, Xiongnu culture.
A traveling nomad family led by a man in belted jacket and trousers, pulling a nomadic cart. Belt Buckle, Mongolia or southern Siberia, dated to 2nd-1st century BC (Xiongnu period).
The Han dynasty world order in AD 2.
Xiongnu among other people in Asia around 1 AD.
Bronze seal of a Xiongnu chief, conferred by the Eastern Han government. Inscribed 漢匈奴/歸義親/漢長 ("The Chief of the Han Xiongnu, who have returned to righteousness and embraced the Han"). Seal, impression, and transcription in standard characters.
Belt hook depicting an animal fight, Xiongnu, 200-100 BC, bronze. Östasiatiska museet, Stockholm.
Southern and Northern Xiongnu in 200 AD, before the collapse of the Han Dynasty.
Xiongnu cauldron, Eastern Han
Location of Xiongnu and other steppe nations in 300 AD.
An embroidered rug from the Xiongnu Noin-Ula burial site. This luxury item was imported from Bactria, and is thought to represent Yuezhi figures.
Belt plaque in the shape of a kneeling horse, 3rd-1st century BCE, gilded silver, made in North China for Xiongnu patrons.
Belt Buckle, 2nd-1st century BCE, Xiongnu. Another naturalistic belt buckle made to the Xiongnu taste, showing a mounted warrior frontally, holding a dagger and grabbing the hair of a demon who is also attacked by a dog. Also appears a nomadic cart pulled by reindeers, and another dog on top of the cart.
Xiongnu Leather Robe, Han period, Henan Provincial Museum, Zhengzhou
Xiongnu bow
Belt plaque with design of wrestling men, Ordos region and western part of North China, 2nd century BC, bronze - Ethnological Museum, Berlin.
Belt buckle with three Ibexes, 2nd-1st century BC, Xiongnu. Chinese foundries made bronze belt plaques to the taste of the Xiongnu, who preferred designs of real animals in naturalistic settings. These plaques have typically been excavated in Xiongnu tombs of the 1st century BC.
Belt buckle with animal combat scene, 2nd-1st century BCE, made in North China for the Xiongnu. These plates were inspired by the art of the steppes, but the design was flattened and compressed within the frame.
Belt Buckle with nomadic-inspired zoomorphic design, manufactured in China for the Xiongnu. Mercury-gilded bronze (a Chinese technique). North China, 3rd-2nd century BC.
2nd century BC – 2nd century AD characters of Xiongnu-Xianbei script (Mongolia and Inner Mongolia).{{sfn|Ishjamts|1996|p=166, Fig 5}}
2nd century BC – 2nd century AD, characters of Xiongnu-Xianbei script (Mongolia and Inner Mongolia).{{sfn|Ishjamts|1996|p=166, Fig 5}}
"Pastoralist expansion into Mongolia ca. 3000 BCE, and by the Late Bronze Age, Mongolian populations were biogeographically structured into three distinct groups, all practicing dairy pastoralism regardless of ancestry. The Xiongnu emerged from the mixing of these populations and those from surrounding regions".
Uniparental haplogroup assignments by group and sex-bias "z" scores of Xiongnu.

The Xiongnu were also active in areas now part of Siberia, Inner Mongolia, Gansu and Xinjiang.

In the southern part of that territory -i.e. the Tarim basin's eastern edge- the Tarim mummies are discovered and dated to circa 2000 BC; recent studies (Li et al., 2010; Zhang et al.; 2021) indicate that the prehistoric inhabitants of the Tarim Basin arose from the admixture between locals of Ancient North Eurasian and Northeast Asians descent.

Map including Ürümqi (labeled as TI-HUA (WU-LU-MU-CH'I)) (ATC, 1971)

Ürümqi

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Map including Ürümqi (labeled as TI-HUA (WU-LU-MU-CH'I)) (ATC, 1971)
Map including Ürümqi (labeled as WU-LU-MU-CH'I) and nearby areas from the International Map of the World (1975)
Mosque in Ürümqi
Outer Ring Road viaducts in Ürümqi at night
Buildings in Ürümqi CBDs near People's Square
People's Square
International Grand Bazaar Xinjiang
Xinjiang University of Finance and Economics.
Ürümqi No.1 High School.
Ürümqi Diwopu International Airport.
Ürümqi South Railway Station.

Ürümqi ( also spelled Ürümchi or without umlauts), formerly known as Dihua (also spelled Tihwa), is the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the far northwest of the People's Republic of China.

The Uyghurs were introduced into the Ürümqi area in the 18th century by the Dzungars who moved them from the west Tarim region to be taranchis or farmers in Ürümqi.

Circa 210 BC, the Yuezhi resided to the northwest of Qin China.

Yuezhi

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Ancient people first described in Chinese histories as nomadic pastoralists living in an arid grassland area in the western part of the modern Chinese province of Gansu, during the 1st millennium BC. After a major defeat at the hands of the Xiongnu in 176 BC, the Yuezhi split into two groups migrating in different directions: the Greater Yuezhi and Lesser Yuezhi (Xiǎo Yuèzhī 小月氏).

Ancient people first described in Chinese histories as nomadic pastoralists living in an arid grassland area in the western part of the modern Chinese province of Gansu, during the 1st millennium BC. After a major defeat at the hands of the Xiongnu in 176 BC, the Yuezhi split into two groups migrating in different directions: the Greater Yuezhi and Lesser Yuezhi (Xiǎo Yuèzhī 小月氏).

Circa 210 BC, the Yuezhi resided to the northwest of Qin China.
artifacts were sinicized
Figures in one of the embroidered carpets of the Xiongnu Noin-Ula burial site, a luxury item probably imported from Bactria. They are thought to represent Yuezhis. 1st century BC - 1st century AD.
A later mural (c. 618–712 AD) from the Mogao Caves, depicting the Chinese mission of Zhang Qian to the Yuezhi in 126 BC.
Watershed of the Oxus River (modern Amu Darya)
A dagger excavated in Tillya Tepe.
The first self-declared Kushan ruler Heraios (1–30 AD) in Greco-Bactrian style Obv: Bust of Heraios, with Greek royal headband. Rev: Horse-mounted King, crowned with a wreath by the Greek goddess of victory Nike. Greek legend: TVPANNOVOTOΣ HΛOV – ΣΛNΛB – KOÞÞANOY "The Tyrant Heraios, Sanav (meaning unknown), of the Kushans"
Possible Yuezhi king and attendants, Gandhara stone palette, 1st century AD
Buddhist art c. 300 AD, depicting (left to right) a Kushan lay Buddhist, Maitreya, Buddha, Avalokitesvara, and a Kushan Buddhist monk.
Yuezhi horseman on the coinage of Heraios.
Nomadic figure, typically with a long nose, on a Bactrian camel. Southern Ningxia, 4th century BC.<ref>{{cite book |last1=Bunker |first1=Emma C. |title=Nomadic Art of the Eastern Eurasian Steppes: The Eugene V. Thaw and Other Notable New York Collections |date=2002 |publisher=Metropolitan Museum of Art |pages=120–121, item 92 |url=https://archive.org/details/NomadicArtoftheEasternEurasianSteppesTheEugeneVThawandOtherNotableNewYorkCollection/page/n133/mode/2up |language=English}}</ref>
Harness ornament in the shape of a coiled wolf, characteristic of nomadic artifacts of southern Ningxia and southeastern Gansu, 5th-4th century BC.<ref>{{cite book |last1=Bunker |first1=Emma C. |title=Nomadic Art of the Eastern Eurasian Steppes: The Eugene V. Thaw and Other Notable New York Collections |date=2002 |publisher=Metropolitan Museum of Art |page=45, item 7 |url=https://archive.org/details/NomadicArtoftheEasternEurasianSteppesTheEugeneVThawandOtherNotableNewYorkCollection/page/n59/mode/2up |language=English}}</ref>
Belt plaque in the shape of a standing wolf, characteristic of nomadic artifacts of southern Ningxia and southeastern Gansu, and related to the Scythian styles of Pazyryk. 4th century BC.<ref>{{cite book |last1=Bunker |first1=Emma C. |title=Nomadic Art of the Eastern Eurasian Steppes: The Eugene V. Thaw and Other Notable New York Collections |date=2002 |publisher=Metropolitan Museum of Art |page=122, item 94 |url=https://archive.org/details/NomadicArtoftheEasternEurasianSteppesTheEugeneVThawandOtherNotableNewYorkCollection/page/n137/mode/2up |language=English}}</ref>

The subsequent Kushan Empire, at its peak in the 3rd century AD, stretched from Turfan in the Tarim Basin in the north to Pataliputra on the Gangetic plain of India in the south.

They have thus placed the original homeland of the Yuezhi 1,000 km further northwest in the grasslands to the north of the Tian Shan (in the northern part of modern Xinjiang).

Map of Lop Nur by Folke Bergman, 1935. Kara-Koshun where the terminal lake was found in 1867 is located to the south-west of Lop Nor, and the lake had shifted back to Lop Nor by the time this map was drawn. Taitema Lake was a smaller transit lake and located to the west of Kara-Koshun.

Lop Nur

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Map of Lop Nur by Folke Bergman, 1935. Kara-Koshun where the terminal lake was found in 1867 is located to the south-west of Lop Nor, and the lake had shifted back to Lop Nor by the time this map was drawn. Taitema Lake was a smaller transit lake and located to the west of Kara-Koshun.
Mushroom cloud of the first Chinese nuclear weapon test, Project 596, at Lop Nur in 1964.
Basin of Lop Nur by satellite.
Satellite picture of the Lop Desert with the basin of the former sea Lop Nur. In the left Kuruk-tagh, in the right Astin-tagh.
Satellite image of a potassium chloride factory in Lop Nur.
Map including part of Lop Nur (bottom right) (DMA, 1990)

Lop Nur or Lop Nor (from a Mongolian name meaning "Lop Lake", where "Lop" is a toponym of unknown origin ) is a former salt lake, now largely dried up, located in the eastern fringe of the Tarim Basin, between the Taklamakan and Kumtag deserts in the southeastern portion of the Xinjiang (Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region).

A carved wooden beam from Loulan in the British Museum, 3rd-4th century. The patterns show influences from ancient western civilizations.

Loulan Kingdom

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Ancient kingdom based around an important oasis city along the Silk Road already known in the 2nd century BCE on the northeastern edge of the Lop Desert.

Ancient kingdom based around an important oasis city along the Silk Road already known in the 2nd century BCE on the northeastern edge of the Lop Desert.

A carved wooden beam from Loulan in the British Museum, 3rd-4th century. The patterns show influences from ancient western civilizations.
The Tarim Basin in the 3rd century, showing two sites of the town of Loulan, the Shanshan kingdom, and the related states
Loulan silk fragment
Krořän/Loulan and several other Indo-European oases kingdoms as Western Region Protectorate of the Han.
Oxhide boots from Loulan. Former Han dynasty 220 BCE-8 CE.
Fragment of carpet discovered by Aurel Stein in a refuse pit at Loulan. 3rd–4th century.
Felt and feather hat from Loulan. Early Han dynasty 202 BCE–8 CE
Winged male figure, with Hellenistic influences, from the mural paintings signed Tita in the Loulan site of Miran (Xinjiang), 3rd century CE
Male face with a caduceus 200–400 AD. The staff suggests the Greek deity Hermes.
Kharosthi document found in Loulan by Aurel Stein
Loulan Museum, Charklik

The ruins of Loulan are near the now-desiccated Lop Nur in the Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang and they are now completely surrounded by desert.

By the 2nd century BC, Loulan had grown to dominate the region around the Tarim Basin.