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Sir Aurel Stein, KCIE
Matilal Banarsidass
New Delhi - India 1921


This is the original edition of Sir Aurel Stein's official report describing in detail his second expedition into Chinese Turkestan and western China with comments on his travel through Kashmir to reach the border and return. Among his many remarkable feats was reading the proof sheets of this document while out in the middle of the Taklamakan on his third expedition, which enabled him to interject some comments about things he learned during that third expedition.


Thanks to the efforts of the Toyobenko - the Silk Road Foundation and Dunhuan project these and many other related works are available on the Internet and can be easily found by the usual Google searches. However the texts and photos and all are scanned as individual pages in PDF documents which makes their study a bit cumbersome. This is especially true for the 93 maps. There are also two biographies of Aurel Stein by Susan Whitfield and Annabel Walker.


Therefore the purpose of this web site is to provide a brief summary of Stein's second expedition and to focus on his exploration of the ancient Han Dynasty wall and frontier forts that he described in such detail. We discuss Stein's Third Expedition in the web section on his report "Innermost Asia". This discussion is primairly for those interested in the history of fortifications.The two main fortress towns he explored during the second expedition were at Miran, and at Lou-lan on the edge of the Lop Nor salt dry-sea. He also visited the now famous "Thousand Buddhas" caves near Tun-huang and bought hundreds of precious manuscripts and artifacts. Everywhere along his route he found ancient coins, bits of ceramics, frescos that he removed from walls, silk and other fabrics, and much more. Then, on the return journey he crossed the Kun Lung section of the Himalaya Mtns, and over the Karakorum Pass, during which travel he was severely frostbitten and subsequently lost the toes on his right foot. This page is an outline showing the chapter headings. A detailed summary of the contents is here.

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A brief comment about Aurel Stein himself.

  Volume I Pages i to 548  
  Addendum and Corrigenda  
  List of Abreviated Titles - a bibliography  
  Table of Contents Vol I - III  
  Chapter I - across Swat and Dir
Alexander between Kunar and Indus
Early Chinese Pilgrims to Udyana
Udyana in Chinese records of T'ang times
Through Talish and Dir
  Chapter II - Through Chitral and Mastij
Chitral in Ethnology and History
Ancient Remains in Chitral
Historical Accounts of Mastij
Old sitres in Mastij
Kao Hsien-chih's Expedition and Darkot
  Chapter III - From Oxus to Khotan
Early Accounts of Wakhan
Histgorical sites in Wakhan
On Hsien-chih's Route to Kashgar
About Kashgar and Yarkand
Along the Western most K'un-lun
  Chapter IV - Remains of the Khotan Oasis
Old sites near the oasis
Antiques acquired from Yotkan and At Khotan
List of antiques acquired from Yotkan and Khotan
Deseert sites in the North of Jija
The sites of Ak terek
List of antiques from Ak-terek aand Siyelik
  Chapter V - Ruined sites near Domoko
Sshrfines of Khadalik
Antiques excavated at Khadalik
List of objects excavated at Khadalik
Minor ruins near Khadalik
The Domoko-yir and Remains of Mazar-toghrak
  Chapter VI -The Niya Site
Return to the Ruins beyond the Niya river end
Records of Hidden archives Nxxix
Nofrth western group of ruins
Exploration of Nxxvi and of south eastern group of ruins
Exploration of southern most ruins and general observations on sitfge
List of antiques excavated at Niya
  Chapter VII - Ancient Sites of Endere
Ruins of Bilal konghan
Excavations around and within T'ang fort of Endere
Survey of earlier remains at Endere
General Observations of Endere and old Tu-huo country
List of antiques found or excavated at Endere
  Chapter VIII - From Charchan tgo Charkhlik
Early accounts of Charchan
Ancient Remains around Charchan
The Charchan River route to Vasli-shahu
The Oasis of Charkhlik and its old remains
List of Objects found or excavated at Charchan and Vasli-shahu
  Chapter IX - Historical Notes of Lop, Shan-shan and Lou-lan
Marco Polo's Lop and Hsian-tsang's Na-Pu-Po
Shan-shan etgween T'and and Han Times
Shan-shan in Later Han Annals
Earliest Records of Lou-lan Under former Han
Lou-lan reestablished as Shan-shan
  Chapter X - Through the Lop Desert
First visit to Miran
Past the Terminal Lagoons of the Tarim
Across an Eroded ancient Delta
List of objects found in Desert Marches north of Lop Nor
  Chaapter XI - The Lou-lan Site
Excavation of Ruined Dwelling LAi
Exploration of Ruined Dwellings LAii - vi
Discoveries in an ancient Refuse Heap LA vi-ii
Remains of a Walled Enclosure
Finds in Ruins LB iv-vi
Chinese Documents from Lou-lan
Kharorghi Documents from Lou-lan
The Lou-lan Site in Chinese Historical Records
The Abandonment of Lou-lan
List of Antiques from Lou-lan
  Chapter XII - Return to Miran Site
To the Tarim's Delta of Charchan-darya
Ruined Fort of Miran
Excavations in Miran Fort
Miscelaneous finds in the Miran Fort
Tibetan Documents from Miran Fort
Records in Turkish Runic script
Descriptive list of Antiques from Miran Fort
  Chapter XIII - The Ancient Buddhist Sshrines of Miran
Sculptured Remains of Buddhist
The Stupa Cella Miii and its Wall Painting
Remains of Painted Frescos Miii
The Dado of Angles in Cella Miii
Excavation of Temple Mv
Mural Painting of Buddhist Legend in Cella Mv
Painted Dado in Cella Mv
Kharorghi Inscriptions of Mv ruins of Miran
List of Antiques from shrine of Miran
  Volume II - pages 549 - 935  
  Chapter XIV Through the Lop Desert to Tun Huang
Route from Abdal to Tun Huang
Chinese Records of the Lop Desert Route
Marco Polo and Later Travelers on Lop Desert Routes
First Remains of Old Chinese Limes
  Chapter XV - TheTun-huang Oasis and its Northern Limes
Geographical features of lower Su-lo Ho Basin
In search of the 'old wall' northward
First discovery of the Dated Han records at T xxvii
Search of Ruined Limes stations Txxviii and Txxx
Survey of Limes towasrd An-hsi
  Chapter XVI - The Oases of Nan-hu and the Yang Barrier
Remains between Tun-huang and Nan-hu
The Nan-hu oasis and its present resources
The ancient remains of Nan-hu
The position of the Yang Barrier
Abandoned village sites north of Nan-hu
List of antiques from Ruined sites of Nan-hu
  Chapter XVII - The end of the Chinese Limes
Terminal station on the wall
The South Western Flank of the Limes
The western Station Tvib and its records
The Last Watch towers of the Limes Tvic and Tvid
  Chapter XVIII - The Westernmost Limes Wall
From Western End of the Wall to Tviii
The towers Tixx and marsh sections of the Limes
The Ruined watch stations Txi and Txiia
The Early Sogdian Documents from Txiic and their paper
The Watch stations Txii and Txiii
  Chapter XIX - The Jade Gate Barrier
Ruined site Txiv
The Position of the Yu-men headquarters
The Wall between Yu-men and Yang-kuan
Txiva and the Refuse heaps of Txva
A relic of the Ancient Silk Trade
The New Route of the north
The Great magazine of the Limes
The Lake section of the Limes Txix - Txxiii
  Chapter XX - History and Records of the Tun-huang Limes
The extension of the "great wall' beyond Tun-huang
The Tun-huang Limes since its construction
Main Features of the Remains of the Limes
Military agricultural colonies
Officers and soldiers of the Limes
Service Conditions of Life on the Limes
List of antiques from Ruins of the Tun-huang Limes
  Chapter XXI - The Caves of the Thousand Buddhas
General Description of the site
Inscriptions at the Caves of Thousand Buddahs
Wang-Tao - shih and his Restored Temple
  Chapter XXII - Exploration of a Walled up Hoard
First Opening of the Hidden Chapel
Finds of a Polyglot Library
Acquisition of Manuscripts and Art Relics
Subsequent Investigations of the Depot
  Chapter XXIII - Pictorial Remains from the Thousand Buddhas
Recovery and Study of the paintings
Time and Mileu of production
Arangement, Materials and Technique
Scenes from the Legendary Life of Gautama Buddha
Buddhas and Bodhisattvas
Lopapalas and Vajrapanis
Divine groups and assemblages
Pictures of Buddhist heavens
Miscelaneous Paintings, woodcuts and decorative remains
  Chapter XXIV - Textile Remains and Manuscripts from Ch'ien-fo-tung
Decorated textile relics - their material
Chinese Designs in decoation of textiles
Desingns of Sassanian type and their immitations
Manuscripts from the 'hidden ' library in Brammi and Chinese
Manuscripts in Tibetan, Sogdian, Turkish
Lists of Sogdian and Turkish manuscripts
  Chapter XXV - Cave Temples and antiques of the Thousand Buddhas
Decorative art in some Ch'ien-fo-tung shrines
List of Paintings - woodcuts - textiles
List of Illustrations
  Volume III  
  Chapter XXVI - The Marches of old Kua-chou
Oases of Kua-chou and Historical Importance
Old remains near An-hsi and Hsuan-trang Yumen
Ruined site at Ch-ia-tso
Grottoes of Myridid Buddhas
  Chapter XXVII - Northwest frontier of Kansu
To the Gate of the "great wall"
The walls of Ch'ia-yu kuan
Su-chou and Central Nan shan
From Kua-chou to Chin-t'a
The Han limes from Yumen-hsien to An-hsi
  Chapter XXVIII - To Hami and Turfan
From An-hsi to Hami, Hsuan-tsang's desert crossing
The ruins of Ara-tam and Lopchuk
Visits to Ruined sites of Turfan
  Chapter XXIX - Kara-shahr and its Ruined sites
Historical topography of Kara-shahr
The Ming'oi site north of Sharchuk
Relievos and Frescos from the northwest portion of Ming'oi site
List of antiques excavated at the Ming'oi site, Sharchuk
The Khora site and defile of the Iron gate
  Chapter XXX - To Kucha and the Keriya River end
Korla and its old sites
From the Inchike River to Kucha
Through the Takla Makan to Kara-dag
  Chapter XXXI - Ruined sites east and north of Khotan
The site of Farha-beg-yarlaki
The shrine Kxii and Chronology of the site
From Domoko to Khotan
Temple remains north of Khotan
  Chapter XXXII - From Mazar-tagh to Maral Bashi
Ruined fort on Mazar-tagh
|Through Ak-su and Uch-Turfan
Through the mountains to Kelpin
Desert sites north of Tumshuk and Maral-bashi
  Chapter XXXIII - From Khotan to London
Preparation at Khotan
Across the K'un lun ranges
Over Karakoram to England
  Appendix A - Chinese inscriptons and records translated by Edouard Chavannes  
  Appendix B - Inventory list of coins found and obtained - J Allan  
  Appendix C - Notes on Physical anthropology of Chinese Turkestan and the Pamirs - T Atholl Joyce  
  Appendix D - Examination of certain specimines of mural painting - Sir Arthur Church  
  Appendix E - Essays on Buddhist paintings from caves of the Thousand Buddhas - Ralph Petrucci and Laurence Bingin  
  Appendix F - Inventory list of manuscripts in Sanskrit, Khotanese and Kuchean  
  Appendix G - Notes on collection of Tibetan documents  
  Appendix H - Notes on musical instruments  
  Appendix I - Notes on specimens of Tibetan manuscriipts  
  Appendix K - Notes on Tibetan inscriptions  
  List of objects, plates, index to page 1580  
  Illustrations 237 to 345  
  Plates 1 - 59 - elevations and site plans  
  Volume IV
This is the extensive set of illustrations and diagrams of towns and forts
  Volume V
This is the set of 94 large maps created during this expedition - map list - maps

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