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Astana Ancient Tombs

Located 42 km southeast of Turpan city and 6 km from Gaochang, the Astana Ancient Tombs, are widely valued by both Chinese and foreign archaeologists and historians. Astana means “Capital” in Uygur, and is the name of a legendary hero of the ancient Uygur Kingdom who killing a vicious dragon and saved the people.

A slope of over 10 meters (32.8 feet) long leads down to the chamber. The chamber is 2 meters (6.6 feet) high with a flat ceiling or a dome. The dead are placed on an earthen or wooden bed in the back of the chamber. They had wood in both hands and wore cotton, linen or silk clothes. Around them are miniature pavilions, carts and horses, parades, musical instruments, chess sets, pens and ink, grapes, melons, dumplings and pancakes -- to be used by the dead in another world. Owing to the arid climate, the relics are very well preserved; dumplings are the same as today's, and the stuffing is as intact as it was when fresh. Murals with vivid pictures of humans, animals, flowers, mountains, and rivers decorate some chambers. A painting of ladies playing chess illustrates the happy life of aristocrats in the early Tang Dynasty (618-907).

The tombs were the public cemetery of ancient Gaochang, available for use by both the city’s upper and lower classes. In total, 456 tombs have been discovered and excavated, but unfortunately the King of Gaochang's has not yet been found. More than ten thousand cultural relics have been found, including over 2,700 books, epitaphs, paintings, clay figurines, pottery, gold, coins, and textiles, which date between from 273 to 772 A.D. The tombs are mainly those of the Han, and other ethnic groups such as the Cheshi, Turki, and Hun are also represented. It is interesting to note that even though the Han people were in the majority, tomb structure and placement indicates all nationalities enjoyed equality. The bodies of the tombs are well kept, similar to Egypt’s ancient mummies, and are invaluable for providing insight on life in ancient Xinjiang.

The tombs are mainly those of the Han people while those of ethnic groups such as the Cheshi, Turki, and Hun are also represented. Tomb structure and placement indicate that while Han people were in the majority in the Gaochang, all nationalities enjoyed equality.

It is noteworthy that mummies here compare favorably with Egyptian mummies in both quantity and the quality, providing precious specimens for anthropology, history, medicine, and ethnology. The mummy of the well-known Gaochang General is 1.90 meters (6.2 feet) tall with well-preserved beard hair and clothes.

1.Currently three chambers are open to the public. For your own safety do not enter the unopened areas.
2. Do not touch the mural inside the chambers.

Admission Fee: CNY 20
Recommended Time for a Visit: Half an hour