588 AT RUINED SITES OF TURFAN [Chap. XVIII
ments regarding Lai Singh's work after the connexion of his triangulation had been secured required still more care. I was anxious that he should survey as much as possible of the wholly unexplored portion of the Kuruk-tâgh which extends between Altmish-bulak and the terminal depression below Hâmi. Survey work on this forbidding desert ground would certainly be attended with serious risks, and neither my old surveying companion's indomitable energy nor the hoped-for help of Abdurrahim and his brave camels could altogether guard against them.
Survey of No physical difficulties would have to be faced in the course of the detailed survey of the Turfân
Turfân basin, which was to occupy the second surveyor during the winter months. But the arrangements
for this task, too, necessarily called for a good deal of attention. Carefully determined points in the hill range forming the northern rim of the basin proper, which were to serve for clinometrical height readings, had to be selected from the outset ; and appropriate measures had to be taken to obviate the risk of Chinese official obstruction with survey work which had to be carried on in a closely inhabited area and obviously could not be brought under the head of archaeological operations.' Curiously enough when obstruction came, towards the end of my stay in Turfân, it was not against topographical but archaeological activity that it was directed.
Track from Surveyor Muhammad Yagab had rejoined me on November 5th, after having carried out
Stohona-Chik-t-t am satisfactorily the survey task with which he had been charged after leaving Hâmi. He had not
surveyed. been able to secure there any guide acquainted with the track which the Russian Trans-frontier Map marks ` from native information ' as leading from the Shona-nör depression to Lukchun. Information subsequently obtained by Lâl Singh at Deghar showed that this track, traditionally known as having been used at one time by hunters of wild camels from H ami, had become impracticable for more than a generation by the drying up of certain salt springs. So Muhammad Yaqûb, in accordance with my instructions, first proceeded to the outlying oasis of Kara-döbe (Map No. 34. B. 3), visited by me in 19o7, and thence made his way, past dry Wadis descending from the north, to the terminal bed of the Hâmi drainage known as Shona-nôr. He found this, as well as the two smaller depressions of Kosh-gumbaz-nor and Kichik-nôr linked with it, quite dry. The whole area, as seen in Maps Nos. 34. A. 3, 31. D. 3, with its far-stretching tongues of gravel Sai and Mesa-filled depressions between them, evidently exhibits the same characteristic features of ancient lacustrine basins with which the terminal basin of the Su-lo-ho and, on a much larger scale, the ancient Lop sea-bed, have made us familiar. Thence he passed over absolutely barren wastes of stone or gravel due west towards Pichan, reaching the first water and vegetation after five days, at a small spring to the south-east of Chik-tam. Considering that no ice was as yet available and that for fully ten days the little party, including a hunter from Hâmi, had to subsist on the water carried in two of my galvanized iron tanks, it was a very plucky performance. At the same time it conclusively proved that this track, a portion of which had been followed by Colonel Kozlov as a member of Captain Roborovsky's expedition, could never have served as a regular route.
Ruins of Apart from the survey arrangements above indicated, my first stay at Kara-khöja was mainly
Idikut- devoted to reconnaissances for the purpose of discovering those sites and ruins where, even after
the labours of preceding expeditions, there still remained scope for profitable archaeological work. From that convenient base I paid preliminary visits in succession to the cemetery sites near Karakhöja and its large sister village Astâna ; to the cave-shrines of Toyuk ; the ruined temples of Senghim-aghiz, Chikkan-köl, Bezeklik and Murtuk. But, naturally, I was at first principally attracted by the remains still surviving within or quite close to the large ruined town, popularly known as Ddkiânûs-shahri, but also and more appropriately designated as Idikut-shahri, the
1 Cf. above, p. 320.