NOTE: Part One of this article can be found here.
Excavations of the houses built alongside Miran’s northern city wall revealed that some of their occupants took advantage of their surroundings by carving alcoves or small granaries out of the thick city wall and using cowhide as wall coverings. Dang Zhihao (党志豪), a researcher from the Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology, assisted with the excavation and clean-up and believes that these alcoves may have been used for food storage.
The arduous task of excavating and clearing up the site was not without its rewards. The archaeologists unearthed over 300 precious artefacts, including large quantities of wooden and bamboo slips from Tibet’s Tubo (吐蕃) Period, wooden artefacts, and woollen goods as well as small quantities of pottery, stone tools, Tang Dynasty kai yuan tong bao (开元通宝) bronze coins, and mural fragments. These artefacts, Dang Zhihao explained, are proof of the frequent political and cultural exchange that existed between key Silk Road towns such as Miran and China’s interior regions.
According to Yu Zhiyong (于志勇), excavation team leader and Director of the Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology, the team’s preliminary comparative study of the site suggests that the majority of the structures and artefacts date back to the Han or Tang Dynasties and that they demonstrate the high level of technological sophistication and craftsmanship of that period.
Miran is located to the south of Lop Nur (罗布泊), a former salt lake in the Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture (巴音郭楞蒙古自治州), and was once a key junction on the Southern Silk Road. At present, there are fifteen relatively well-preserved structures at Miran, including Buddhist temples, stupas, beacons, and irrigation canals. Over the years, archaeologists have also unearthed the ruins of ancient houses, kilns, iron smelting sites, and tombs.
Author’s Note: This is a translation of the original article by Mao Yong (毛咏) and Fu Xiaobo (符晓波), which can be found here. Some parts have been paraphrased, embellished, or omitted for the sake of readability. Please note that I am not a professional translator or archaeologist so there may be errors in my translation.