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Astana Ancient Tomb Complex

Astana Ancient Tomb Complex

Located about 40 kilometers from Turpan City, the Astana Ancient Tomb Complex is a group of underground tombs that inhabitants of the ancient capital city of Gaochang were buried in. The graveyard was in use for about 600 years beginning from the 2nd century AD. It has an area of around 10 square kilometers and contains more than 500 tombs.

The people in the tombs include aristocrats, officials and ordinary people from the Western Jin Dynasty to the Tang Dynasty. The tombs are usually no more than 2 meters high, with murals inside some.

Due to the high terrain and arid weather in the area, the tombs are intact, mummies and objects are buried inside that are well-preserved after centuries. They include silk fabrics, murals, pottery and wooden ware, coins, and tomb inscriptions, among others.

The dead were laid on a small tilted platform in the back of the tomb and surrounded by buried possessions, including food. Their faces were covered by clothes that have distinct Persian patterns. There is a brick next to each body with the person’s name and biographical information. These bricks are important documents for historians and archeologists.

With thousands of pieces of precious items excavated, Astana Ancient Tomb Complex are the “live archives” of the history of the ancient capital Gaochang and an “underground museum” in the Turpan region.