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Peiyang Lecture - The Signs of a Civilization Lost in Taklimakan Desert

 Campus

Ancient civilization always carries an air of fantasy and mystery to us all. Increases in the number of tourists has led to more and more people exploring deserts, remote mountain valleys, and ancient tombs, and the treasure trove of ancient secrets is being gradually revealed. What was the ancient world really like? 

Recently, Liu Xuetang, vice president of the School of Ethnology and Sociology in Xinjiang Normal University, delivered a speech in Peiyang Lecture Hall on the great findings looking back through the centuries - the signs of a lost civilization discovered in the Taklimakan Desert, leading students towards the mystery hidden away in Northwest China. 

“The Chinese nation enjoys a time-honored spirit and culture.” Professor Liu stated at the beginning of the lecture, “The method of attaining an all-round understanding of Chinese civilization lies not only in reading innumerable books, but also in turning knowledge into practice.” The significance of archaeology has gone beyond seeking cultural relics themselves. Instead, the precious footprints of culture laid down over thousands of years seem to be of greater significance. 

“The Taklimakan Desert, which is a harsh, inhospitable environment for human beings in the present day, used to be prosperous in the not-so-distant past.” Having attracted the students’ attention, Liu continued: “The tomb of Xiaohe, lying in the lower reaches of the Kongque River in the Lop Nur Region, is the site we will focus on today.”  

Then, Liu vividly introduced the discovery of Loulan City. “The Swedish explorer Sven Hedin and the Swedish archaeologist Warlock Bergman”, Liu outlined, “made great contributions to the explorations of the tomb of Xiaohe.” The tomb’s name had been unknown before Bergman arrived, and it was through his work that the tomb was named.  

When it came to the structure of the tomb, Liu provided several specific examples to lead the students deep inside. For instance, the wheat discovered was used to evaluate the age of the tomb. The size of the bronze mirrors found inside represented different identities. The appearance of the body as well as the burial objects were analyzed to further study the kinship and hierarchy of the lost civilization. Besides, Liu also introduced students to the symbols form within the tomb with their and the mysterious numbers cultural roots and meanings yet to be uncovered. 

“The Chinese nation’s integration of multiple cultures still remains a mystery, and there is still a long way to go before we gain a full understanding of its dynamics”, Liu concluded in the end. 

By: Ma Zhou 

Photo: Ma Zhou 

Editors: Qin Mian and Christopher Peter Clarke 

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