1308 FROM MAZAR-TAGH TO MARAL-BASHI [Chap. XXXII
and archaeological surveys of 1913, and these must necessarily await publication in the report on my third journey and in the detailed maps which are being prepared for their illustration. Meanwhile it must suffice to point out that this ancient route line kept throughout to the north of the present
Maral-bâshi—Kashgar road and well away from the ground liable to floods from the Kâshgar River.
The ruined site at the foot of the desert hill of Lal-tagh (Map No. 14. c. 5), to be referred to below, probably represents the stage on it which lay nearest to Chong-tim on the south-west. In the oppo-
site direction the line of the ancient route is likely to be marked by the Tim' of Soksuk-shahri to the north-west of Chong-tim. Between the latter site and Soksuk-shahri my Kelpin guides declared that they knew amidst the dunes two much-decayed mounds which they took for Fao-tais, and which they were ready to show me, had the difficulty about water allowed a prolonged stay in the desert at this season. No ` Tati ' débris or other remains were reported near them.
That Chong-tim marked the site not merely of a roadside station but also of a settlement of some size became evident on a closer inspection of the neighbouring ground. Everywhere to the south and south-east for a distance of over a mile there rose erosion terraces, usually about 8 to i o feet in height, thickly covered with potsherds and obviously marking the position of completely destroyed dwellings. At one point such a clay ` witness ' still retained remains of large bricks 1o" x 1o" x 6", evidently from the foundations of a structure of some size. Here the ` treasure-seekers ' of Kelpin had been recently at work, and had in the course of their burrowing brought to light a large earthen jar. To their disappointment, instead of the hoped-for treasure, it proved to contain only a coagulated oily substance. Of the latter enough still adhered to the broken bottom to secure a specimen. In several places I came upon the raised lines of small water channels, all running from south-west to north-east. A reference to the map shows that the canal feeding them must have come from the direction of Tumshuk and probably from a branch of the dying Kâshgar River, perhaps the same of which the end is now marked by the dry bed known as Gore-akin (Map No. 14. D. 5). Elsewhere trunks of dead fruit-trees could be seen lying on the ground, still showing the lines on which they were planted in the ancient orchards.
In view of the abundant and clear evidence proving the early abandonment of the site, I felt much puzzled when three Chinese copper coins of quite modern issues were picked up close together a short distance to the south-east of the ruined fort. Two were coins of the Emperor Chien-lung with a mint-mark later than A. D. 1759, the other a piece of Chia-ch'ing (A. D. 1796-182 1). The archaeological riddle thus presented was solved only after my arrival at the village of Tumshuk, on the present high road, when the aged Karaul-bâshi, in charge of the local police post, related how about 1876 a force of the pretender Hakim Töra had been routed by Yagab Beg's son Hakaullah in a fight near Yaide, two marches further on by the road to Ak-su. Many soldiers of the defeated party had sought escape by turning into the sandy desert northward, and had miserably perished there by thirst and exhaustion under the hot August sun. Kelpin people subsequently searched the desert for the money and the valuables of the dead fugitives and buried the corpses.
Smaller patches of débris-covered ground were also passed up to a distance of about 3 miles on the resumed march to the south-west of Chong-tim, and more traces of old canals cropped out between the dunes. Finds of one Wu-chu and four Kai yüan pieces showed that this ground, too, was occupied about the same period as Chong-tim. When after another desert camping we moved on May 19 to the south-west, guided by the conspicuous bold hills above Tumshuk, the dunes before long grew rare and low scrub became frequent. From about 2 miles beyond Camp 389 (Map No. 14. D. 5) small patches of eroded ground with ' Tati' débris again macle their appearance. But the finds of coins soon showed that the area now reached must have