Vanished Silk Road city studied in China

Oct. 4, 2011 at 8:30 PM

BEIJING, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Chinese archaeologists say they've found evidence of agricultural activity in an ancient vanished city that was a pivotal stop along the famous Silk Road.

Scientists from the Institute of Geology and Geophysics said remote sensing procedures, field investigations and sample testing in the area showed there were once large tracts of farmland in Loulan, an important trading city that mysteriously disappeared in the third century A.D., China's official news agency Xinhua reported Sunday.

Farmland featuring regular and straight plots stretching for 200 to 1,000 yards, as well as irrigation ditches running throughout, have been found, Qin Xiaoguang, a member of the research team, said.

Grain particles in the area's ground surface are very likely the remains of crop plants, Qin said.

Evidence of an ancient canal measuring 10 to 20 yards wide and 5 feet deep suggest the city, which is thought to have perished in drought, was once rich in water resources, the researchers said.

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