38 HISTORY OF SURVEYS [Chap.
sand to the west and south in which lie the dry beds marking the connection between the Kuruk-darya and the present course of the Konebe-darya. 76 This area is of particular hydro-graphical interest as it witnessed the change which sometime after the middle of the third century A. D. caused the waters of the Konche-daryA and, perhaps, a Tarim branch united with it, to abandon the Kuruk-darya bed and the easterly direction towards Lou-lan for a southeasterly course and the subsequent junction with the Tarim. 77
From Ying-p'an I sent Afraz-gul to Tikenlik to survey the main Lop—Kara-shahr
route along branches of the Tarim and across the Inchike-darya to the new settlement of Kara-kum on the Konche-darya. He subsequently surveyed the course of the latter river as far as Korla. 78 I myself
proceeded.to this place by Dr. Hedin's interesting desert route of 1896 along the line where the gravel glacis stretching down from the foot of the Kuruk-tagh overlooks the riverine belt of jungle extending along the left bank of the Konche-darya. This route, now waterless almost throughout for a length of about a hundred miles, is marked by a series of ruined towers and watch-stations which my explorations have proved to date back to approximately the same period as the construction of the Tun-huang Limes (end of 2nd century B. c.). They clearly mark a continuation of the ancient Chinese high road via Lou-lan.
By the end of the first week of April our four lines of survey had been successfully . brought to their appointed meeting point at Korla, the flourishing oasis
Parties re-united at in the north-eastern corner of the Tarim basin, Muhammad Yakiib having
rejoined from the Turfan side after a survey of the southern shore of the Baghrash lake. 76 We then set out in three Separate parties for the long journey westwards with Kashgar as our common goal. Lal Singh's task was to keep close to the T'ienshan and to survey as much of its southern main range as the early season and the available time would permit. Muhammad Yaknb, with most of our brave camels, was sent southwards across the Konche and Inchike rivers to the Tarim, 8° with instructions to survey its present main channel to the vicinity of Abad in the Yarkand district.
My own antiquarian tasks obliged me to keep in the main to the long line of oases which fringes the southern foot of the Tien-shan and through which since ancient times the chief trade and military route of the Tarim basin has always passed. Well-known as is this high-road, over which lay most of my journey to Kashgar, some 900 miles in length, yet its detailed survey proved of distinct interest by the light thrown both on its physical and historical geography.
By detaching Afraz-gul wherever the need of inspecting old remains off the main road
rendered this advisable, it became possible to survey also portions of
Kucha. the scrub-covered desert southwards before reaching Kucha on
April 14th. S1 Three busy weeks spent within and around this great oasis, important both on historical and archœological grounds, enabled me with Afraz-gul's efficient help to survey in some detail both its present cultivated area and that which, by the evidence of the numerous ancient sites scattered in the scrubby desert from south-east to south-west, must have once formed part of it. 83 Apart from archœological finds of interest, these surveys have furnished clear evidence of 'desiccation'. They have shown that the volume of water available for the irrigation needs of the oasis from the Kucha and Muz-art rivers has considerably decreased within historical times.
The centre of the Kucha oasis was touched also by the survey of Lai Singh who from
Korla had kept as close to the Tien-Shan as transport and other conditions would permit. From Yangi-hissar he had succeeded in reaching the top of the Kara-dawan pass, still covered by deep snow, over which
Survey from ' Dry
River' to Rorla.
Lal Singh's surveys along'P'ien-shan to Ak-su.
78 See Sheet No. 26. C, D. 3.
n For an important early Chinese record bearing on the former course of the Konche-darya towards Lon-lan, cf. my comments in Serindia, L pp. 420 sqq.
There also I have discussed the hydrographie facts underlying the story related in the same text about a barrage which appears to have been constructed in the second century A. D. in order to assure to the
Kuruk-darya bed the water needed for irrigation in
the Lou-lau area.
J8 See Sheets Nos. 26, A. 2, B, C. 3; 21. D. 1.
79 See Sheet No. 25. A, B. 1.
8° See Sheet Do. 21. D. 1-3.
81 See Sheets Nos. 21. A-D. 1; 17. C, D. 1, 2.
82 See Sheet No. 17. A-D. 1, 2.