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0147 Ancient Khotan : vol.1
Ancient Khotan : vol.1 / Page 147 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000182
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Sec. in   THE OASIS OF GIJMA   103

described presently. This negative fact is quite compatible with the opinion that the oasis of Gûma has been under cultivation from early times. The observations to be detailed below regarding the Khotan oasis, prove beyond all doubt that an area constantly irrigated for centuries is, under the physical conditions prevailing between the foot of the Kun-lun range and the Taklamakan, bound to be covered by a steadily rising deposit formed of silt and loess dust 15. All ancient remains are so effectively hidden by the rapid growth of this overlying deposit that, as the fate of the culture-strata of Yotkan convincingly demonstrates, nothing but the formation of deep ravines in the soil, or else long-continued subsequent denudation through the erosive action of the wind, can ever reveal their existence.

I did not see any indication of either of these two agencies being at work now within the cultivated area of Gûma, while all round its northern outskirts the accumulation of drifting ` sand' 16 is actively proceeding. Hence I hold that the absence of any archaeological finds within or on the outskirts of the oasis is no evidence against ancient occupation.

Gûma, together with Mokuila and Moji, must be assumed to have formed part of the `kingdom' of Pi-shan (Pe-shan) j a(, which the ` Notice of the Western Regions ' in the Han Annals places half-way between Khotan and Yarkand (So-chtê), at 38o li distance from either 17. The population was reckoned at 3,500 persons, showing that the territory was a small one. The statement made in the Notice that India adjoins it to the south, is a manifest reference to the Karakorum route, which is reached by going due south via Kilian or Sanju. The Tang Annals speak of Pi-shan as a small territory absorbed by the Khotan kingdom 18.

The inquiries made on my behalf among the people of Gûma for antiques produced no result, notwithstanding the offer of liberal reward for any acceptable article and the manifest emftressement shown by the local authorities to facilitate acquisitions. The small octagonal bronze seal (G. ooI), apparently of Chinese make (Plate L), which was sold to me at Karghalik as having been found near Gûma, is of uncertain date and origin, and could in no case be relied upon as evidence, since it had passed through the Bazar channel.


The morning of the 6th of October saw me on my way towards Moji, the next caravan stage, filled with keen expectation as to the remains of ` kône-shahrs' which, according to my Gûma informants, were to be seen en route. After we had emerged from the shady lanes of the southern part of the Gûma oasis, and had crossed a stretch of stony Dasht about three miles broad, I came upon the first of these on the right bank of the wide river-bed, now entirely dry, which the day before I had followed lower down to Karatagh-aghzi. For a considerable distance along the right bank, which, where crossed by the road rises some twenty feet above the sandy bottom of the flood-water channel, the ground was thickly strewn with small fragments of coarse red pottery. No ornamented pieces could be found, but the exceptional hardness and occasional fine grain of these potsherds showed that they belonged to a remote period. The width of the area over which these scattered fragments could be traced was not great, as it extended only for about a third of a mile from the river-bank to where the soft sandy soil, unmistakably

'6 Compare below, chap. VIII. sec. ii; Ruins of Khotan, pp. 263 sqq.

16 I use the expression ` sand' here and elsewhere without any prejudice as to the real geological nature and origin

of the substance composing the dunes.

37 Compare Wylie, J. Anthrop. Inst., x. pp. 3o sq.; also above, p. 97.

18 See Chavannes, Turcs occid., p. 125.

Early occupation of

Güma. TheP`i-shan

of Chinese Annals.

Débris area near