Taxkorgan, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China

Taxkorgan (Stone City) is located in northern Tashkurgan Tajik Autonomous County in present-day Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China. The city, constructed on a high and steep hill, is a significant Oasis city on the Silk Roads connected with Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as inner Xinjiang where roads lead to Kashgar, Shache and Yecheng. It has been a well-known site since it became the capital of the Puli Kingdom at the beginning of the Common Era (Zhao 2014). It continued to serve an administrative function until China’s Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911) when a new city was built to the south and the Stone City was abandoned (Khan 2009; Xinjiang Cultural Relics Bureau 2011).

  • China
  • Coordinates: 37.772778°, 75.224444°    
  • Site type: fortified town

Xuanzang, the famous Buddhist monk visited the city around 649 (Li 1997) while travelling from Badakhshan to Khotan. In the early 20th century, the site was excavated by Sir Aurel Stein (Stein 1921). Recently, a team from the Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology began their own investigation project in 2012.

The remains include the walled city, city gate, public cemetery, and residential areas, etc. The site has been developed as a critical tourist destination of The Xinjiang Pamirs Scenic Tourist Area in this county for about five years. However, the inner site of the City is more difficult to understand now, having been destroyed by continuous soil removal from inner city by local residents.

by LIU Yunxiao

Tash-Kurgan Fortress as photographed in 1909 by Sir Aurel Stein. Published in the book Around Afghanistan by Major Henri De Bouillane de Lacoste (trans. by J. G. Anderson) and reproduced here under Creative Commons License through Wikimedia Commons.

Residential areas: Outer city of Stone City. The current excavation area appears on the left. Photo courtesy of LIU Yunxiao.

Inner side of the Eastern Wall of Taxkorgan. Photo courtesy of LIU Yunxiao.


Khan, Asghar. 2009. “Tashkurgan: The Stone Fortress.” Pamir Times August.

Li, Huixing. 1997. “石头城堡’ 之最 The Top of the Stone City.” 地球 The Earth 4:22.

Stein, Aurel. 1921. Serindia: Detailed Report of Explorations in Central Asia and Westernmost China Carried out and Described under the Orders of H.M. Indian Government. Vol. 3. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Xinjiang Cultural Relics Bureau. 2011. 喀什地区第三次全国文物普查成果集 The Third National Survey on Intangible Culture Heritage in Kashgar.

Zhao, Dengwen. 2014. “The Stone City.” Xinjiang Humanities Geography (Mandarin) 新疆人文地(汉)3: 58–61.

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