Ruins of city walls have been discovered in Northwest China's Lop Nor Desert, the site of the former capital of Loulan, a prosperous settlement built about 2,000 years ago to serve passing traders traveling the Silk Road.
The Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region's Institute of Archaeology said excavations had unearthed a circular wall with a diameter of 300 meters. The base of the wall is 2.2 to 2.7 m wide, while the highest remaining part is 2.5m tall.
A wooden plate unearthed at the site of the former capital of Loulan, in Northwest China's Lop Nor Desert. [Photo/Xinhua]
Hu Xingjun, a research fellow at the institute, said red willow branches and reeds found among the ruins had been carbon dated, and the results suggested the structure dates back to the late period of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220).
Archaeologists said the city was one of the capitals established by the Kingdom of Loulan, which was moved several times due to factors like water resources and war. It had disappeared completely by the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
The mysterious city was first rediscovered in 1900 by Swedish adventurer Sven Hedin. The wall ruins that he found were square in shape.
Hu said the circular ruins are about 57 kilometers from those found by Hedin. The new discovery might be one of the capitals of Loulan, while the earlier finding could be a newer location of the kingdom.
Along with the wall ruins, archaeologists also discovered a number of items in seven adjacent tombs, including wooden plates, a copper mirror, a wooden comb and textiles.
The government has allocated millions of yuan to Loulan excavation projects. Items ranging from Han Dynasty coins, utensils and fabrics in Greek and Roman styles have been unearthed from previous digs.