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0279 Innermost Asia : vol.2
Innermost Asia : vol.2 / Page 279 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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rain floods in the spring or early summer encourage the venture. Here, too, reliable evidence

pointed to a great increase in the population since thè re-establishment of Chinese rule, before which

only two hundred families were officially recorded.

The importance of Yangi-hissar is increased by the fact that a route leads from it across the Route from

high range northward to the Yulduz plateau at the head of the Kara-shahr valley. I t was stated hissâ i to

to be the first practicable route east of Kuchâ to the plateau, and to be much used by Mongols Yulduz.

taking supplies from the oasis to their grazing grounds. The pass crossing the watershed was said

to retain snow all through the year ; but these hardy Mongol customers, I was told, find it prac-

ticable even during the winter months. Thanks to the arrangements I was able to make at Yangi-

hissâr, Lai Singh after my departure succeeded in surveying this route (Map No. 20. A. 4) up to

the secondary pass known as Kara-dawân, about i i,800 feet in height, where heavy and soft snow

stopped progress. The abundance of conifer forest which he observed at the head of the valley

suffices to indicate the moister climate prevailing on this portion of the Tien-shan, and this again

accounts for the more plentiful supply of water which the valleys descending from it supply to the

oases of Yangi-hissar and Bugur.

The local information readily offered at Yangi-hissâr indicated the existence of ancient remains Old cultiva-

only at two points—at Ak-tam to the north of the oasis and at Aghrak, also known as Pikhan, to tion at


the south-east. In order to save time and cover as much ground as possible with our plane-tables, I arranged for Afraz-gul to visit the latter place and then to take the high road to the town of Bugur. I myself proposed to proceed to Ak-tam and thence gain Bugur through Târlak and the northern portion of that large oasis. As regards Aghrak, it may at once be recorded here that Afraz-gul found there a small and roughly built enclosure of earth ramparts, much decayed through moisture and resembling the circumvallation examined by me at Lapâr south of Bugur.2 An old cemetery close by was found to contain graves undoubtedly Muhammadan in character ; thereby proving the occupation of the spot down to medieval times, if not later. Indications of abandoned cultivation, much of it of quite recent appearance, were found over portions of the country traversed. This confirmed statements made both at Châdir and Yangi-hissar that land around this old iârim had again been brought under occasional tillage during the last twenty years or so. The remains seem of interest only as suggesting the possibility that the high road from Korla to Bugur followed in ancient times a more southerly and hence more direct line than the present one. If so, the assumption would be justified that the old route had since become impracticable for traffic owing to increased difficulty in obtaining water.

Proceeding from the Bazar of Yangi-hissâr to the north-west my route to Ak-tam took me Route

first through fields and then over gravel Sai along one of the several canals which carry water from along


the Yangi-hissar stream to the western portion of the oasis.3 After proceeding four miles we came hissâr to the western bank of its well-defined flood-bed, here about half a mile in width. The banks stream. rise here fully eighty feet or so above the actual level of the stream and showed a succession of six terraces, clear proof of the gradual shrinkage of the volume of the river that once filled the bed. We passed the point where the Yangi-hissar canals take off, less than a mile farther up, and about five hundred yards beyond this found two groups of small ruins, badly damaged and decayed, on the higher terraces above of the western bank of the stream.

On the second terrace from the top of the alluvial fan of gravel, the remains of walls of a small Ruins at rectangular structure, built of bricks, 15" x 8f-" x 4" in size, survived to a height of about 2 feet. Ak-tam.

2 See below, ii. p. 793.

3 Through a draughtsman's mistake which escaped attention, two canals running parallel to each other from the

common head below Ak-tam have been wrongly shown in Map No. 21. A. i as if forming the banks of a river branch.