While the harsh climate caused bythe desert sands and the dry climate created tremendous challenges for to inhabitants or travelers in Central Asia (09), these same conditions made for a highly favorable environment for preserving historic objects such as ancient houses, temples, tombs, and documents. Dandān-Uiliq (03) in the Taklamakan Desert and Loulan (06) in the Lop Desert are some typical examples.
It is thought that Central Asia once had had huge inland seas full of water, but that these waters gradually dried up as time passed.
It was climate change which caused the Tarim Basin’s largest lake, Lop Nor (06), to shift its location through fluctuations in the movement of the rivers flowing into it.
Once known as the “Salty Lake” by ancient Chinese in the Han Dynasty, it later came to be known as the “Wandering Lake.”
Not far from the lake, the ancient city of Khara-Khoto (08) was built during Western Xia Period and was continuously inhabited and even expanded up until the Yuan dynasty. The reason why the city was eventually abandoned is thought to be linked with the aridness that plagued the entire Central Asia.
To Learn More
Matsuda Hisao Hakase Kokikinensyuppan Iinkai ed. Tozai Bunka Koryushi. Tokyo: Yūzankaku shuppan, 1975.
Shinji Maejima, et al ed., Watashi no Sirukurōdo. Tokyo: Asahi Shinbunsha, 1978.
Tokyo National Museum, Kyoto National Museum and Asahi Shimbun ed., Sai'iki Bijutsu Ten: Doitsu-Turfan Tankentai (Central Asian Art from the Museum of Indian Art, Berlin, SMPK). Tokyo : Asahi Shimbunsha, 1991.
Hisao Matsuda, Sabaku no Bunka: Chūō Ajia to Tōzaikōshō. Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1994.