Tarim Basin

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Taklamakan Desert in the Tarim Basin.
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NASA landsat photo of the Tarim Basin


The Tarim Basin is one of the largest endorheic basins in the world, occupying an area of more than 400,000 km². It is located in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China's far west. Its northern boundary is the Tien Shan mountain range and its southern is the Kunlun Mountains on the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. The Taklamakan Desert dominates much of the basin. The area is sparsely settled by the Uyghurs, other Turkic peoples and Tajiks.

History

The Silk Road, an interconnected series of ancient trade routes through various regions of the Asian continent, splits into two routes along the northern and the southern edges of the Taklamakan Desert in the basin. A middle route was deserted in the sixth century. The southern round includes the oasis towns of Yarkand, Niya, Pishan, Marin and Khotan. The key oasis towns along the northern route are Aksu, Korla, Turfan, Gaochang and Loulan. Other key towns include Kashgar in the South-West, Kuqa in the North, and Loulan and Dunhuang in the East. Formerly the Tocharian languages were spoken in the Tarim Basin. They were the easternmost of the Indo-European languages. The Chinese name "Yuezhi" (Chinese 月氏; Wade-Giles: Yüeh-Chih) denoted an ancient Central Asian people settled in modern eastern Tarim Basin, who, vanquished by the Xiongnu, later migrated southward to form the Kushan Empire, which was centred on Afghanistan/Pakistan, but also extended into northern India.

The Han Chinese managed to take control of the Tarim Basin from the Xiongnu at the end of the 1st century AD under the leadership of general Ban Chao (AD 32- AD 102).

The powerful Kushans expanded back into the Tarim Basin in the 1st-2nd centuries AD, where they established a kingdom in Kashgar and competed for control of the area with nomads and Chinese forces. They introduced the Brahmi script, the Indian Prakrit language for administration, and Buddhism, playing a central role in the Silk Road transmission of Buddhism to Eastern Asia.

Lop Nur, a saline marshy depression at the east end of the Tarim Basin, is a nuclear test site for the People's Republic of China. The Tarim River empties into the Lop Nur.

Geology

The Tarim Basin is believed to contain large reserves of petroleum and natural gas. A thick succession of Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic rocks occupy the central parts of the basin, more than 10 km thick in some areas. The source rocks of oil and gas tend to be Permian mudstones. Below this level is a complex Precambrian basement believed to be the remnants of the original Tarim microplate, which accrued to the growing Eurasian continent in Carboniferous time. The snow on K2, the second highest mountain in the world, flows into glaciers which move down the valleys to melt. The melted water forms rivers which flow down the mountains and into the Tarim Basin, never reaching the sea. Surrounded by desert, some rivers feed the oases where the water is used for irrigation while others flow to salt lakes and marshes.

Archeology

Although archaeological finding were always of interest in the Tarim Basin, the prime impetus for exploration was for petroleum and natural gas. Recently developed fine-grained analysis at the ancient oasis of Niya on the Silk Road, however, have led to significant findings of remains of wattle hamlets and daub structures as well as farm land, orchards, vineyards, irrigation pools and bridges. The oasis at Niya preserves the ancient landscape. Here also have been found hundreds of 3rd and 4th AD wooden accounting tablets at several settlements across the oasis. These texts are in the Gāndhārī language script native today's Pakistan and Afghanistan. The texts are legal documents such as tax lists, and contracts containing detailed information pertaining to the administration of daily affairs.[1]

Additional excavations have unearthed tombs with mummies, tools, ceramic works, painted pottery and other artistic artifacts. Such diversity was encouraged by the cultural contacts resulting from this area's position on the Silk Road.[2] Early Buddhist sculptures and murals excavated at Miran show artistic similarities to the traditions of Central Asia and North India[3] and stylistic aspects of paintings found there suggest that Miran had a direct connection with the West, specifically Rome and its provinces.[4]

See also

Notes

1. ^ Archaeological GIS and Oasis Geography in the Tarim Basin. The Silk Road Foundation Newsletter. Retrieved on 2007-07-21.
2. ^ A Discussion of Sino-Western Cultural Contact and Exchange in the Second Millennium BC Based on Recent Archeological Discoveries. Retrieved on 2007-07-21.
3. ^ Silk Road Trade Routes. University of Washington. Retrieved on 2007-08-25.
4. ^ Ten Centuries of Art on the Silk Road. Retrieved on 2007-08-25.

References

  • Baumer, Christoph. 2000. Southern Silk Road: In the Footsteps of Sir Aurel Stein and Sven Hedin. White Orchid Books. Bangkok.
  • Hill, John E. 2003. "Annotated Translation of the Chapter on the Western Regions according to the Hou Hanshu." 2nd Draft Edition. http://depts.washington.edu/silkroad/texts/hhshu/hou_han_shu.html
  • Hill, John E. 2004. The Peoples of the West from the Weilue 魏略 by Yu Huan 魚豢: A Third Century Chinese Account Composed between 239 and 265 CE. Draft annotated English translation. http://depts.washington.edu/silkroad/texts/weilue/weilue.html
  • Mallory, J.P. and Mair, Victor H. 2000. The Tarim Mummies: Ancient China and the Mystery of the Earliest Peoples from the West. Thames & Hudson. London. ISBN 0-500-05101-1
  • Stein, Aurel M. 1907. Ancient Khotan: Detailed report of archaeological explorations in Chinese Turkestan, 2 vols. Clarendon Press. Oxford. http://dsr.nii.ac.jp/toyobunko/
  • Stein, Aurel M. 1921. Serindia: Detailed report of explorations in Central Asia and westernmost China, 5 vols. London & Oxford. Clarendon Press. Reprint: Delhi. Motilal Banarsidass. 1980. http://dsr.nii.ac.jp/toyobunko/
  • Stein Aurel M. 1928. Innermost Asia: Detailed report of explorations in Central Asia, Kan-su and Eastern Iran, 5 vols. Clarendon Press. Reprint: New Delhi. Cosmo Publications. 1981.

External links

An endorheic basin (from Greek endo ‘inside’ + rhein ‘to flow’; also terminal or closed basin) is a closed drainage basin that retains water and allows no outflow to other bodies of water such as rivers or oceans.
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شىنجاڭ ئۇيغۇر ئاپتونوم رايونى
Shinjang Uyghur Aptonom Rayoni

Chinese:
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Tian Shan



Countries | China,Pakistan,India,Kyrgyzstan
| Xinjiang,Jammu and Kashmir,Northern Areas of Pakistan

Highest point | Jengish Chokusu
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Kunlun Mountains (Simplified Chinese: 昆仑山; Traditional Chinese: 崑崙山; Pinyin: Kūnlún Shān
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Tibetan Plateau, also known as the Qinghai-Tibetan (Qingzang) Plateau is a vast, elevated plateau in East Asia covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai Province in the People's Republic of China and Ladakh in Kashmir.
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Taklamakan Desert (also Taklimakan) is a desert of Central Asia, in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. It is known as one of the largest sandy deserts in the world.
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Uyghur (also spelled Uygur, Uighur, Uigur; Uyghur: ئۇيغۇر; Simplified Chinese: 维吾尔; Traditional Chinese:
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Turkic peoples are a group of peoples residing in northern, central and western Eurasia who speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. These peoples share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds.
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Tājīk (Persian: تاجيک; UniPers: Tâjik; Tajik: Тоҷик
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Silk Road, or Silk Route, is an interconnected series of ancient trade routes through various regions of the Asian continent, mainly connecting Chang'an (today's Xi'an) in China, with Asia Minor and the Mediterranean. It extends over 8,000 km (5,000 miles) on land and sea.
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oasis (plural: oases) is an isolated area of vegetation in a desert, typically surrounding a spring or similar water source. Oases also provide habitat for animals and even humans if the area is big enough.
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Yarkand (Chinese 莎車; Pinyin: Shāchē; ) also written Suōchē. Altitude about 1,189 m. or 3,900 ft.; pop. approx. 373,492 in 2003), is a county in Xinjiang, China, located on the southern rim of the Taklamakan desert in the Tarim Basin.
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Pishan (Chinese: 皮山; pinyin: Píshān; also known as Guma or Goma; ) is an ancient town on the main caravan route between Khotan and Karghalik.
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Hotan (, Chinese: 和田; Pinyin: Hétián, formerly: Simplified Chinese: 和阗
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oasis (plural: oases) is an isolated area of vegetation in a desert, typically surrounding a spring or similar water source. Oases also provide habitat for animals and even humans if the area is big enough.
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Aksu is a Turkish word, composed of the words ak (white) and su (water). It is the name of several localities and waterways in Asia and Europe.

Habitations

  • Aksu, Xinjiang, an Uyghur city and prefecture in the Xinjiang Province of China

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Korla (simplified Chinese: 库尔勒; traditional Chinese: 庫爾勒; pinyin: Kù'ěrlè) is a mid-sized city in central Xinjiang. Korla is the capital of the Bayin'gholin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, which is larger than France and is the largest
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Turfan (, Modern Chinese 吐魯番, Pinyin: Tǔlǔfān; is an oasis city in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. Its population was 254,900 at the end of 2003.
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Gaochang (Chinese: 高昌) is the site of an ancient oasis city built on the northern rim of the inhospitable Taklamakan Desert in Xinjiang, China.
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Loulan (Traditional Chinese: 樓蘭; Pinyin: Lóulán) is an ancient town founded in the second century BC on the north-eastern edge of the Lop Desert.
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Kashgar
قەشقەر K̡ǝxk̡ǝr 喀什

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Kucha/Kuçar/Kuchar Uyghur (كۇچار), Chinese Simplified: 库车; Traditional: 庫車; pinyin Kùchē; also romanized as Chiu-tzu, Kiu-che, Kuei-tzu.
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Loulan (Traditional Chinese: 樓蘭; Pinyin: Lóulán) is an ancient town founded in the second century BC on the north-eastern edge of the Lop Desert.
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Dunhuang (Chinese: 敦煌, also written as 燉煌 till early Qing Dynasty; Pinyin: Dūnhuáng) is a city in Jiuquan, Gansu province, China. It is sited in an oasis.
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 Tocharian languages
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Writing system: Tocharian script
Language codes
ISO 639-1: none
ISO 639-2: ine
ISO 639-3: either:
xto  — 
txb  —  Tocharian or Tokharian
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Indo-European languages comprise a family of several hundred related languages and dialects [1], including most of the major languages of Europe, the northern Indian subcontinent (South Asia), the Iranian plateau (Southwest Asia), and much of Central Asia.
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Yuezhi through Central Asia, from around 176 BCE to 30 CE.
Total population

Some 100,000 to 200,000 horse archers, according to the Shiji, Chapter 123.
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The Xiongnu (Chinese: 匈奴; Pinyin: Xiōngnú; Wade-Giles: Hsiung-nu); were a nomadic people from Central Asia, generally based in present day Mongolia.
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See Kushan (Homeworld) for the "Homeworld" exiles.
The Kushan Empire (c. 1st–3rd centuries) was a state that at its height, about 105–250, stretched from what is now Tajikistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and down into the Ganges river valley in
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The 1st century was that century that lasted from 1 to 100 according the Gregorian calendar. It is considered part of the Classical era, epoch, or historical period
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