Tao-ttai at Ak-su, he never failed to use the influence of his high office for smoothing my paths,
however far away the explorations of this second journey might take me.
From Kashgar I made my way past Yarkand and the foot of the westernmost K`un-lun to Explora-
Khotan (Chap. III, sec. iv, v). After having carried out from there surveys of unexplored parts Khota bout
of the high glacier-crowned range in the south towards the close of the summer, and having gathered 1906.
a rich harvest of small antiques from the old capital of the oasis, I was able to search with profit
a series of wind-eroded sites previously unvisited to the north-east (Chapter Iv). Next, excavations
made at sand-buried sites near Domoko to the east yielded a rich harvest of antiques and manuscript
remains in Sanskrit, Khotanese, and Chinese dating from the close of the Tang period (Chapter V).
Close study of the physical conditions on this ground and of the successive shifts in the cultivated
area it has witnessed proved of considerable geographical interest with regard to questions of
` desiccation '. The excavations I resumed during the second half of October at the Niya Site, Excavations
abandoned to the desert sands since the third century A. D., were rewarded by unexpectedly rich at Niya Site.
finds of wooden documents in Kharosthi script and Prâkrit language, besides other ancient records
in Chinese and a mass of miscellaneous antiques helping further to illustrate the life and civilization
prevailing in the oases of the Tarim Basin at that early period (Chapter VI).
Continuing my journey to the east I reached, near the terminal bed of the Endere River, the From En-
easternmost limit of the area visited in 1900—I. Fresh excavations around the Tang fort revealed dere R. to
remains of a far earlier settlement, throwing interesting light on the history of this desert site
(Chapter VII). The long desert journey which thence brought us via Charchan and Vash-shahri
to Charkhlik (Chapter VIII) helped to clear up the historical topography of an important ancient
route, directly connecting Khotan with China, and showed its conditions practically unchanged from
those in which Hsüan-tsang and Marco Polo saw it.
At Charkhlik we had reached the only inhabited place now of any importance in the desolate History of
region of drift-sand, wind-eroded or salt-encrusted clay, and bare gravel which surrounds the Lop-nor, Lop region.
or the terminal marshes of the Tarim, and the vastly greater dried-up ancient sea-bed beyond them.
This region of Lop, the ancient Lou-lan or Shan-span of the Chinese, had by its position on the
earliest routes of Chinese expansion into Central Asia played an important historical part from the time
of the Former Han dynasty. The exploration of its ancient remains formed the chief object of my first
winter's work, and it has appeared appropriate to preface its record by a critical analysis of the
numerous early notices concerning Lop, Shan-shan, and Lou-lan (Chapter IX).
My immediate goal was the ancient settlement in the waterless desert north of Lop-nör first Explora-
discovered by Dr. Hedin. The trying marches there across wind-eroded wastes proved of distinct nn Site ou
geographical and antiquarian interest by revealing plentiful relics of the Stone Age and unmistakable
traces of an ancient delta (Chapter X). The systematic excavations carried out at the ruins of what
can now be definitely identified as the walled Chinese station of Lou-lan and of an outlying smaller
settlement yielded an abundance of written records in Chinese and Kharosthi, dating mainly from
the third century A. D., and many interesting remains of the architectural and industrial art of that
period (Chap. xi, sec. i—ix). Supplementary explorations carried out on my third journey have
enabled me to elucidate the position occupied by the ` Lou-lan Site ' with regard to the earliest
Chinese route into the Tarim Basin (Chap. XI, sec. x, xi).
After crossing the unexplored desert belt of high dunes to the Tarim and examining small sites Excavations
near its terminal course, I excavated the ruins of Miran, marking the site of an early settlement of ruins.ran
Shan-shan clue south of Lop-nor. Hundreds of Tibetan records on wood and paper were recovered,
together with fragments of Turkish ` Runic ' documents and plentiful other relics, from the refuse-
heaps of a ruined fort (Chapter XII). They proved that this portion of the site was occupied during