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1164 TO HAMI AND TURFAN [Chap. XXVIII
which were traced only just before my departure from the site, and could therefore not be surveyed with accuracy. The wall, only about 2â feet in thickness, had been reduced by wind-erosion to a low, in many places almost imperceptible, mound ; but its line could be followed north of the fort for a distance of over 70o yards running east to west, being best noticed where it occupied the top of rudimentary Yardangs about 1-2 feet high. It approached the north çorner of the fort within about roo yards. Of its west and east faces, which were more exposed to wind-erosion, only small sections survived ; the southern one I could not locate within the limited time left.
A wall of this unsubstantial .sort could only have served, as it were, police purposes. In this respect it could be compared with those equally flimsy walls which are to be found at the present day round several of the Turfân towns and villages, and which never fail to arouse derisive comment on the part of Chinese accustomed by tradition to seek safety behind far more solid ramparts. The soil around Chong-hassar is a fertile loess singularly free from that sizôr, or salt efflorescence, which thickly covers the ground near the north shore of the present lake-bed. It only needs water to be brought under cultivation. As this is carried even now by the intermittent overflow of the Lukchun canals to within four miles or so of the site, I believe we may safely assume that Chong-hassar in Uigur times, and probably earlier also, had its agricultural settlement enjoying irrigation, and that the change which has come over the ground since is due to desiccation.
From my camp at Chong-hassar I was able to examine and, with the help of additional labour easily secured from Bésh-tam, thoroughly to clear also an interesting group of small shrines known as Kichik-hassâr, the ` Little Castle '. It is situated a little over two miles to the north-east from Chong-hassar, and reached over ground where vegetation is very scanty and the effect of wind-erosion distinctly more marked. The trenches cut by it into the loess soil all run from west to east and attain in places a depth of 5 to 8 feet. On approach to the ruins drift-sand is met with, heaped up in small ` Barkhâns' to a height of 8—ro feet. It is, perhaps, due to the protection afforded by the dunes that two of the ruined shrines had preserved their essential features. As the sketch-plan in Plate 5o and the photograph in Fig. 269 show, the site comprises a number of small Stûpas, with little domed cellas adjoining them, 'as well as some much-decayed structure's near them which may have served monastic purposes.
The area occupied by the ruins stretches for about 120 yards from north-west to south-east, the direction in which its extent is greatest. Within this area the ground exhibits a typical ` Tati' character, being strewn on its eroded surface with small débris of pottery and bone fragments, most of which seemed human. All structural remains occupy erosion terraces, rising 4-5 feet above the adjoining ground. On the east or lee side of the better-preserved ruins the drift-sand was found heaped up to a height of io feet or so, as seen in Figs. 269, 270. 'l'he bricks used in them are all sun-dried, but relatively hard, with the fairly uniform size of r8" x 8"-9" x 4-41-", the same as found at the ruins of Chong-hassâr. The masonry is very regular, all bricks being laid in horizontal courses, often with their long and short sides alternately facing outwards. All structural details seemed to point to an approximately contemporaneous origin of the buildings.
The largest complex of ruined structures is that to the west, marked I in the plan. It comprises a remarkably well-preserved Stûpa at its north end, with a domed cella and vaulted ante-chapel adjoining (Fig. 270). Further south lies a hall or court, 47 feet by 23, which may possibly have had a timber roofing. The purpose of the small arched niche- in the west wall could not be made out. A much-decayed set of rooms adjoining to the south-west may have served for the quarters of monks. The Stûpa at the north end rises on a base, 24 feet square and 5 feet high, partly covered by sand. On this is set a circular base, 15 feet in diameter and 4 feet 6 inches high. This again is surmounted by a tower-like member close on 10 feet in height, representing the third