Ancient City of Loulan

Ancient City of Loulan

When you travel to Xinjiang, China, probably the most mystical site would be The Ancient City of Loulan, the Ruins of Ancient Loulan. Situated on the western shore of the dried-up Lake Lop (Lop Nur) in Xinjiang (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region), Loulan used to be a splendid state.

Lake Lop itself is located at a point roughly equidistant (about 200 kilometers) from the border with Gansu Province to the east and the border with Qinghai Province to the southeast. The disappearance of the ancient city of Loulan – like the similar disappearance of numerous other ancient Silk Road cities of the Tarim Basin– is most likely linked to the disappearance of Lake Lop itself, that is, the disappearance of Lake Lop's water. In other words, these ancient cities seem to have disappeared (were covered in sand) due to the same desertification that caused Lake Lop to dry up (in the case of some of these ancient, sand-buried cities, they were abandoned with such haste that archeologists speculate that the inhabitants fled in the face of a sandstorm that was nothing short of biblical proportions).
 
From the corpses unearthed in this area, there were human cultures that had inhabited here, who were earlier humans, perhaps nomadic, Neolithic Age (BCE 10,000 – 2000 in China) hunters. Even arrowheads dating to circa 7500 BCE have been excavated in the area. A treasure trove of other artifacts have been unearthed here, including manuscripts, pottery, woolen and silken garments, bronze ware, glassware, ancient coins and of course ancient desiccated corpses called mummies, as the next section reveals.
 
Indeed, when the Ancient City of Loulan was eventually discovered by the Swedish explorer and man of many parts, Sven Hedin, it created a sensation the world over, though nothing like the sensation that the discovery of the Ancient City of Niya by the Hungarian-born American professor, explorer – and also man of many parts – Aurel Stein, would create (see the detailed references to both of these famous explorers farther below), causing Niya to be called "the Oriental Pompeii".