Sec. i] THE LIMES LINE NORTH-WEST OF TUN-HUANG 351
on the top of the ridge, but this itself had been widened somewhat to the south by a walled-up platform built of clay lumps of large size. About 6 feet from the eastern face of the tower a circular well, 3 feet in diameter, had been cut through the clay. Its present bottom was reached at a depth of 16 feet. But no doubt the well once descended deeper to the level of subsoil water, which, as the marshy surface near by showed, could not be far from the surface.
A considerable quantity of refuse, mostly reed-straw and chips of wood, lay near the tower and on the southern slope. By clearing this a few fragmentary Chinese records on wood were recovered [one of them, T. xxii1. f. 02, mentions Tun-huang], besides a large Wu-chu coin and a variety of miscellaneous objects, as described in the List. Among these were the string sandals T. XXIII. f. oi, 2, both of remarkably large size and probably meant to be worn over feet protected by abundance of rags ; silk rags in different colours, oio ; pottery repaired by string passed through holes, 012 (Pl. XLVIII) ; two pieces of a wooden implement which may have served for churning, 013-14 (Pl. XLVI), & c.
From T. XXIm f the wall was seen to turn to the south-east and could subsequently be traced continuing in this direction for about seven miles. As far as the tower T. xxIII. g its line was clearly marked by layers of fascines stretching over the ground either continuously or in patches. That the fascines along this segment of the wall were made of Toghrak branches was a striking illustration of continuity in the surface conditions ; for just between these two stations wild poplars are still growing in fair numbers in the depression crossed by the wall. Farther on the wall was again constructed of reed fascines.
The station T. XXIII. g, less than a mile from the last, was marked by a tower-like structure occupying the northern end of an eroded terrace about 3o feet high. It contained a chamber of 7 feet square between thick walls built of bricks of the regular size, and now broken down to a height of about 5 feet. The entrance lay in the south-east corner, as at T. xxir. f. The Limes wall passed at a distance of about 20 feet north of the little station. Such refuse as I noticed near the entrance yielded only fragments of a string sandal and a small canvas bag.
A mile farther on, the line of the wall passed an isolated clay terrace about 15 feet high, which evidently had once been occupied by a watch-station. No structural remains had survived, but pottery debris of the ancient mat-marked type common at the Limes stations plainly indicated that it had been occupied contemporaneously with the latter. For a distance of about two miles beyond the line crossed depressions overgrown with reeds, and containing a few scattered Yardang terraces and at one place some marshy springs. A young Chinese who was grazing ponies and sheep there knew these by the name of Yeh ya-ho. No remains of the Limes were traced until we reached the point where these depressions gave way to a level scrub-covered steppe near the tower T. xxIII. h (Pl. 16). This had a base of 16 feet square, was built of bricks of the usual size, 14 x 7 x 4 inches, and in its broken condition attained a height of about II feet. The top portion enclosed a guard-room 8 feet square entered from the south. A piece of thick glazed stoneware, T. xxul. h. oi, similar to that from T. XXIII. d, was picked up below the tower.
Within the next mile no less than three watch-towers, T. XXIII, i, j, k, stood along the line of the wall, here clearly traceable as a low but continuous mound. They were all built on the same pattern as T. XXIII. h, and like it afforded only scanty refuse. Combined with the fact that we were now approaching the area which might have been partially occupied in Han times by outlying settlements of the Tun-huang oasis, this suggested to me that these closely adjoining posts, though provided for the defence of the Limes, may not have been regularly occupied, except at times of emergency, the posting of guards being possible here at very short notice. But, of course, other explanations are also possible. In any case I regret that these last three posts were left without
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