Astana-Karakhoja Ancient Tombs

  Astana-Karakhoja Ancient Tombs Astana-Karakhoja Ancient Tombs

The Astana-Karakhoja Ancient Tombs are the Living Archives of Gaochang.This Tang-dynasty burial ground known as the "Underground Museum" attracts stream of archaeologists both at home and abroad. It provides some very valuable and fascinating artifacts such as tomb figures of wood, wall paint, ceramics, and documents and silk which were as well-preserved and as colorful as new ones by the hot and dry atmosphere. Astana means "capital" in Uygur and Karakhoja is the name of a legendary hero of the ancient Uygur Kingdom who expelled the evils by killing a vicious dragon.

The tombs are located 42 km (26miles) southeast of Turpan city and 6 km (3.7miles) from the Ancient City of Gaochang. The tombs range 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) from north to south and 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) from east to west. The tombs were the public cemetery of the ancient Gaochang residents, both aristocrats and commoners. However, curiously, among the excavated 456 tombs the tomb of King Gaochang has been found nowhere in the tombs. According to the documentation buried with them, the era must have been between 273 and 778. The outsides of the tombs are shaped like small low hills, sloping down towards to the grave rooms. The tomb design appears from the sky to be like a "Jia" shape of Chinese character. Three tombs among them are open to visitors.

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