with its defensible quarters and distant outlook on all sides, had served as a station to keep watch over the traffic that once moved across the absolute desert beyond.
But who had been its occupants ? The answer was furnished with unhoped-for clearness when the little cemetery already noticed, lying outside the walled enclosure, was explored. Three graves situated on or near the small knoll which marked the highest portion (see Pl. 12, Fig. 17o) had been almost completely destroyed by wind-erosion, and only fragments of splintered wood and bones remained. It was different with the group of four graves found on lower ground to the east of that knoll. The vicinity of the fort ridge, about twenty yards off, appeared to have offered these some protection. The first grave that we opened, L.F. 2, as Fig. 171 shows, had been brought by erosion quite close to the surface and retained only the decayed body of a woman or child, reduced almost to a skeleton, without any recognizable garment or sepulchral deposits. The body lay between two long wooden boards over which tamarisk branches had been placed crosswise to make up a coffin of the simplest sort.9 But the grave we opened next, L.F. i, had been prepared with far more care, and its contents came to light in a state of preservation surprising even on such ground.
A fence of closely set wooden planks rising about three feet above the present ground surface marked the narrow enclosure of the grave. After removing these and digging down to a depth of about four feet we laid bare five pieces of excellently preserved stout cow-hide forming an outer cover for the coffin. This proved to be made up of two solid Toghrak trunks, hollowed out to serve as the longer sides of the coffin, and of two shortpieces for the sides at head and foot. Seven solid wooden boards, closely fitted but not joined, formed the lid of the coffin. When these had been removed by Sadiq, a young fellow, the boldest of my Loplik diggers,10 there was revealed the body of a young-looking man with the head bare, the feet in red leather moccasins, and the rest of the body enveloped in a shroud of coarse but strongly woven woollen material (Fig. 173). It was not without a strange emotion that I looked down on a figure which, but for the parched skin and the deep-sunk eye cavities, seemed like that of a man asleep, and found myself thus suddenly brought face to face with a representative of the indigenous people who had inhabited, and no doubt had liked, this dreary Lop region in the early centuries of our era.
That the dead belonged to the autochthone and not the Chinese race would have been adequately proved by the manner of burial alone. But a look at the dead man's head sufficed not merely to confirm this but also to show that his racial type was distinctly non-Mongolian. The face was narrow across the cheeks, the nose high and aquiline, the eyes straight. The head, so far as could be judged without measurements, for which at this spot I was not provided with instruments, was dolichocephalous. The hair on the head and that of the moustache and short beard round the chin was dark and, as far as I could see, wavy. The whole appearance of head and face suggested the Homo Alpinus type with which I had become familiar in the Hindukush and Pamirs. A big cicatrice showed over the left eye and is clearly visible in the photograph. Whether the serious wound it indicated had been the cause of the man's death or not I was not competent to determine. The skin all over the body stuck close to the bones. and the odour rising from the body was still pungent.
The head was covered with the brown felt cap, L.F. o1. This has angular ear-flaps and is decorated on the left with five standing up plumes kept apart by a cross-piece of wood. The skin of some rodent was fastened on the cap and probably served as a crest, as in the case of the cap L.F. 04 (Pl. XXIX) recovered from grave 4. The whole body, except for the face and feet, was
9 The photograph, Fig. 171, shows it in the foreground the group with his face muffled as a protection against the
after excavation. effluvia of the graves. io The photograph, Fig. 17x, shows him in the middle of