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PHOTO: gaoandong 4030'55.15" 8954'51.29"

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Loulan or Kroran is an ancient oasis town already known in the second century BCE on the north-eastern edge of the Lop Desert. Loulan, known to Russian archaeologists as Krorayina, was an ancient kingdom along the Silk Road. In 108 BCE, the Han Dynasty defeated the armies of the Loulan kingdom and made it into a puppet/allied state. In 77 BCE, according to the History of the Former Han Dynasty, the Chinese envoy Fu Jiezi assassinated Loulan's king, Chang Gui. The kingdom then became integrated into the Han Dynasty and was given the Chinese name of Shanshan, though the town at the northwestern corner of the brackish desert lake Lop Nur retained the name of Loulan. The ruins of the town of Loulan are on what were the western banks of Lop Nur, now desiccated, in the Bayin'gholin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang. The site is now completely submerged in the desert. A 3,800-year-old female mummy (circa 1600 BCE), the first of a series of mummies now known as the Tarim mummies, was discovered in Loulan in 1980, indicating very early settlement of the region. Loulan was on the main route from Dunhuang to Korla, where it joined the so-called "northern route", and was also connected by a route southwest to the kingdom’s seat of government in the town of Wuni in the Charkhlik/Ruoqiang oasis, and from thence to Khotan and Yarkand. The first historical mention of Loulan was in a letter from the Chanyu of the Xiongnu to the Chinese Emperor in 126 BCE in which he boasted of conquering the Yuezhi, the Wusun, Loulan, and Hujie, "as well as the twenty-six states nearby." In 126 BCE, the Chinese envoy, Zhang Qian described Loulan as a fortified city near Lop Nur.


 

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