Chinese researchers have discovered a 2,100-year-old city on the ancient Silk Road using remote sensing technology. According to researchers, this city was part of the Protectorate of Western Regions in ancient China and a famous city on the Silk route. The remote sensing technique helped researchers find the exact location of the city in the Koyuk Shahri area of Luntai County, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
“Thanks to remote sensing, we can start our excavation of the Protectorate of Western Regions this year,” said Li Wenying, a senior official at the Xinjiang Cultural Relics and Archeology Research Institute, as reported by Xinhua News.
The Silk Road was an ancient trade route that helped generate trade among different empires and kingdoms in China, India, Persia, and some European countries. This route started from China and ended in Eastern Europe, allowing the exchange of goods and ideas between various regions linked to this route. According to the UNESCO, this ancient route was named the Silk Road because of the luxurious, soft silk that was traded extensively on this route.
For the past several years, archeologists had been trying to determine the exact location of the lost city on the Silk Road. They were confident that this city was probably located close to any one of the three present-day towns: Drow Kurt, Koyuk Shahri, and Kona Shahri. However, archeologists failed to get any clue due to the devastated landscape of the region.
Last year, the Chinese Academy of Sciences decided to take the help of scientists from the Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth (RADI). RADI scientists used the remote sensing technology to find an unusual ring around the Koyuk Shahri area. Detailed analysis of the images revealed that the unusual ring was actually a moat that was most likely constructed about 2,100 to 2,200 years ago. According to archeologists, ancient Chinese texts documenting the history of the Protectorate of Western Regions also suggest that this city existed nearly 2,100 years back.
Archeologists revealed that this city was founded during Han dynasty period with an aim to protect the Silk Road from enemy attacks and to enable the local rulers to handle foreign and domestic affairs around the Tarim Basin region. The city featured a round interior and a rectangular facade. The highest point in this area was found to be nearly six meters above the surface, suggesting that some high building with stairs was constructed here.
RADI scientists have recreated the original shape of the city using a digitization technique. These scientists are now trying to find the precise location of Yangguan, an ancient Silk Road pass that is believed to have been fortified nearly 2,000 years ago, as per ancient Chinese texts.