An archaeological team left Thursday for the historic site of the Kroraina (Loulan) Kingdom on the Silk Road in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
The archaeologists will make a field inspection of tombs in a circumference of 50 kilometers around the ruined ancient city of Loulan, which was the capital of Kroraina, according to Zhang Yuzhong, head of the team and also vice-president of the Xinjiang Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Archaeology.
They will also investigate tombs that were reported by local media earlier in the month as having been robbed and destroyed.
It was reported that finds in one of them - mural paintings, mummies, colored and crosshatched coffins and silk fragments - indicated it might be the legendary regal mausoleum of Kroraina.
The report aroused wide-spread interest among Chinese archaeologists puzzled by the enigma of ancient Loulan, some of whom held the mystery would be solved once the tombs of the Loulan kings were discovered and excavated.
The archaeological expedition will investigate the claim. Some relics at the robbed tombs will be collected and brought back to Urumqi, the regional capital, for further research.
The region's cultural heritage bureau is now drawing up a scheme to identify the occupants of the tombs.
Kroraina was a very prosperous city along the Silk Road some 2,100 years ago. It has been deserted since the third century due to the ravages of windstorms and the dry climate.
(Xinhua News Agency February 20, 2003)