Sites & cities that bear the name of Lop Nur

Lop Nur

Today in : China
First trace of activity : ca. 19th century B.C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 9th century C.E
Recorded names : Lop Nor, 罗布泊镇, Luóbùpō zhèn, Luozhong, 罗中, ᠯᠣᠪ ᠨᠠᠭᠤᠷ, Лоб Нуур

Description : Lop Nur or Lop Nor (from a Mongolian name meaning "Lop Lake", where "Lop" is a toponym of unknown origin) is a former salt lake, now largely dried up, located between the Taklamakan and Kumtag deserts in the southeastern portion of the Xinjiang (Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region). Administratively, the lake is in Lop Nur town (Chinese: 罗布泊镇; pinyin: Luóbùpō zhèn), also known as Luozhong (罗中; Luózhōng) of Ruoqiang County, which in its turn is part of the Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture. From around 1800 BC until the 9th century the lake supported a thriving Tocharian culture. Archaeologists have discovered the buried remains of settlements, as well as several of the Tarim mummies, along its ancient shoreline. Former water resources of the Tarim River and Lop Nur nurtured the kingdom of Loulan since the second century BC, an ancient civilisation along the Silk Road, which skirted the lake-filled basin. Loulan became a client-state of the Chinese empire in 55 BC, renamed Shanshan. Faxian went by the Lop Desert on his way to the Indus valley (395–414), followed by later Chinese pilgrims. Marco Polo in his travels passed through the Lop Desert. In the 19th century and early 20th century, the explorers Ferdinand von Richthofen, Nikolai Przhevalsky, Sven Hedin and Aurel Stein visited and studied the area. It is also likely that Swedish soldier Johan Gustaf Renat had visited the area when he was helping the Zunghars to produce maps over the area in the eighteenth century. The lake was given various names in ancient Chinese texts. In Shiji it was called Yan Ze (鹽澤, literally Salt Marsh), indicating its saline nature, near which was located the ancient Loulan Kingdom. In Hanshu it was called Puchang Hai (蒲昌海, literally Sea of Abundant Reed) and was given a dimension of 300 to 400 li (roughly 120–160 km) in length and breadth, indicating it was once a lake of great size. These early texts also mentioned the belief, mistaken as it turns out, that the lake joins the Yellow River at Jishi through an underground channel as the source of the river.

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