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Radiocarbon Dating the Ancient City of Loulan

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 March 2017

Bing Xu
Affiliation:
Key Laboratory of Cenozoic Geology and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 19, Beitucheng Western Rd., Chaoyang District, 100029, Beijing, China University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, 19 A Yuquan Rd., Shijingshan District, 100049, Beijing, China
Zhaoyan Gu
Affiliation:
Key Laboratory of Cenozoic Geology and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 19, Beitucheng Western Rd., Chaoyang District, 100029, Beijing, China University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, 19 A Yuquan Rd., Shijingshan District, 100049, Beijing, China
Xiaoguang Qin
Affiliation:
Key Laboratory of Cenozoic Geology and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 19, Beitucheng Western Rd., Chaoyang District, 100029, Beijing, China
Yong Wu
Affiliation:
Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology, No. 4-4, Beijing Rd., 830011, Urumqi, China
Guijin Mu
Affiliation:
Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 818, Beijing Southern Rd., 830011, Urumqi, China
Yingxin Jiao
Affiliation:
Bureau of Cultural Heritage of Ruoqiang County, Shengli Rd., 841800, Ruoqiang, China
Lei Zhang
Affiliation:
Key Laboratory of Cenozoic Geology and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 19, Beitucheng Western Rd., Chaoyang District, 100029, Beijing, China
Qingzhen Hao
Affiliation:
Key Laboratory of Cenozoic Geology and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 19, Beitucheng Western Rd., Chaoyang District, 100029, Beijing, China
Luo Wang
Affiliation:
Key Laboratory of Cenozoic Geology and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 19, Beitucheng Western Rd., Chaoyang District, 100029, Beijing, China
Dong Wei
Affiliation:
Research Center for Chinese Frontier of Archaeology of Jilin University, No. 2699 Qianjin Street, 130012, Changchun, China
Jiaqi Liu
Affiliation:
Key Laboratory of Cenozoic Geology and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 19, Beitucheng Western Rd., Chaoyang District, 100029, Beijing, China
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

The discovery of the ancient city of Loulan in Xinjiang, China, at the beginning of the 20th century was of great significance for understanding the evolution of culture and civilization in Inner Asia. However, due to the lack of systematic chronological studies, the history of this ancient city remains unclear, particularly the date of its construction and abandonment. Here, we present the results of the first systematic radiocarbon (14C) dating carried out on artifacts from ancient Loulan. Our results show that human activity began as early as 350 cal BC, flourished during the interval from the 1st to 4th centuries AD, and completely disappeared around 600 AD. Most of the buildings in the city were constructed during the Eastern Han Dynasty rather than in Wei/Jin Dynasty, as previously indicated by excavated documents and letters (Hedin 1898; Xiao 2006). The development and flourishing of Loulan coincided with the interval of high ice accumulation and meltwater supply from surrounding mountains. The city began to decline and was finally abandoned following an abrupt decrease in ice accumulation and meltwater supply (Yao et al. 1996; Lauterbach et al. 2014), suggesting that natural climate change was the major factor responsible for the abandonment of Loulan.

Type
Research Article
Information
Radiocarbon , Volume 59 , Issue 4 , August 2017 , pp. 1215 - 1226
Copyright
© 2017 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona 

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