The Process of Historical Change
Xinjiang from Remote Antiquity up to the Spring and
Autumn Period and Warring States Period In recent years archaeologists have uncovered evidence of human
habitation in Xinjiang in as early as the Paleolithic age. In addition, large numbers of ruins and relics have been found all over the vast area of Xinjiang, which date back to Neolithic times 10,000. years ago up to the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 B.C.) and the Warring States Period (476-221 B.C.). However, existing archaeological finds are still too few to enable us to construct a clear
picture of the human history of those ancient times. Today we can merely pick out several sites representative of different stages to give a general idea of the developments in the long course of Xinjiang's history.
Dating back 10,000 years, the sites of the Qijiaojing microlithic culture in eastern Xinjiang have provided important remains of the late Mesolithic Age or early Neolithic Age. They first attracted the attention of archaeologists at home and abroad back in the 1930s,
then after the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, Chinese archaeologists paid many visits there, in an area of several square kilometers, they discovered six or seven spots rich in artifacts of the microlithic culture, excavating a number of boat-shaped, awl-like and cylindrical objects made of silica, quartz or chert, as well as stone arrowheads, drills and scrapers. At one of the sites close to Qijiaojing Village, the archaeologists felt as if they were touring an ancient masonry workshop, and in half a day they gathered nearly 1,000 stone artifacts. But they found no pottery at all, which
showed that the makers of the stone articles lived by hunting and
gathering. It is quite possible that Xinjiang's dry climate may have
helped to preserve these artifacts for so long.
The material and shapes of the microlithic stone objects
unearthed in the Qijiaojing ruins as well as the techniques used in making them show them to be of the same type as those discovered earlier in northern China. Obviously they are part of the same system of microlithic culture distributed over the northern and eastern parts of Asia as well as the northern and western parts of
America. They are very different from the type of microlithic cultures found in the southern and western parts of Asia, Australia, Europe and Africa.
Archaeologists have found 4,000-year-old remains of microlithic culture in the Lop Nur area, at a spot north of Astana in Turpan, west of the ancient city of Jiaohe, and on the east bank of the Mori River. The stone objects excavated in these places show more skill in their construction,


and several of the stone knives and spears
found are delicately modelled with regular shapes. Pottery was found in some of these ruins, indicating that the nomadic hunters had settled down and developed farming and livestock raising. Archaeologists at home and abroad have shown great interest in the ancient tombs and mummies unearthed in the past few years in the Lop Nur area. Dating back 3,800 years, all the mummies found
in the tombs wore pointed felt hats and leather shoes, and were wrapped in woolen blankets. A package of ephedra branches was placed on each person's chest, which might have had some religious or suchlike significance. Burial objects include wooden articles, straw baskets, ornamental beads made of jade, stone or bone, as well as stone arrowheads, and small bronze ornaments in a few
tombs. More household articles were discovered in tombs for women, and there were statues of women in some tombs. All this shows that the inhabitants of the Lop Nur wilderness lived in a primitive commune where.all members of the clan had equal social status, and women were especially respected. People lived mainly
by raising sheep and cattle and, hunting, but they planted wheat too. They used primitive vertical looms to weave woolen cloth and blankets with plain weave. Household handicrafts too began to develop, resulting in felt, straw objects, wooden and bone artifacts. From the eleventh to the third century B.C. the Zhou Dynasty in
central China rose and declined, petering out in the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period. For the inhabitants of Xinjiang, however, it was a time when they gradually turned from primitive society to a slave society. As class polarization developed,
the ancients living north and south of the Tianshan Mountains crossed the threshold of civilization.
A large number of ruins and relics representing this historical stage have been found in Lop Nur, Hotan, Hami and Ill, and have produced extensive finds of painted pottery artifacts and stone objects. Later tombs contain small bronzes too. Ironware appears together with painted pottery artifacts in sites dating from the Warring States Period and the Han Dynasty. This demonstrates that
the ancients built settlements in various parts of Xinjiang, and developed the land around river banks and in some major oases.It is interesting to note that while the unearthed painted pottery carries specific features of Xinjiang's local culture, it is quite similar
to that found in central and northwestern China in shape, decoration and technique. For instance, the common Xinjiang decorations of triangle, whirlpool and wave designs were influenced by the culture
of Gansu. The S-shaped design on the handle of painted pottery )ars found in Mori was also a popular Gansu pattern, while the pottery beads unearthed at Fish Gorge were molded in a style of central China. The similarity of pottery style is evidence of the mutual exchanges and influences between Xinjiang and Central China.
Ancient dwellings excavated in Turpan, Qitai and Jimsar have revealed that the residents in those times used painted pottery and articles and ornaments made of iron, gold and bronze. While engaging in livestock breeding, they also practiced farming on a considerable scale, and started wool-weaving, carpentry, pottery and
smelting crafts. Productivity was certainly advancing in this period.In the large ancient tombs built during the Warring States Period in what is today's Xinyuan Kanes and Alagou, a great number of gold, silver and bronze artifacts as well as fine pottery have been
unearthed. The gold and silver articles are engraved with vivid images of lions, tigers, bears and strange animals with wings. These finds indicate both improvement of technique and intensified class polarization at that time. As all production was the result of simple
manual labor, it would have been impossible for any one person to bury so many valuable gold, silver and bronze articles as funerary objects if he or she had not been a member of the ruling class possessing large numbers of slaves. It was precisely this slave labor
that created considerable quantities of exquisite gold, silver and bronze artifacts and ornaments.
In a number of excavations, such as those at Alagou, Wubu
and Lake Aydingkol, archaeologists found lacquerware, silks, embroideries and bronze mirrors brough~t in from Central China. In some tombs, they even picked up sea shells which had come all the way from the southeastern coast. These archaeological finds together with records in the ancient literature of the early Qin Dynasty (221-207 B.C.) give us a clear picture of the history of
Xinjiang in that period. The scenery and produce of Xinjiang have been recorded in a number of noted pre-Qin literary works such as The Classic of Mountains and Seas and The Memoirs of King Mu. The Memoirs of
King Mu tells the story of how King Mu of the Zhou Dynasty once toured Xinjiang where he met and exchanged gifts with Xiwangmu (the Queen Mother of the West), the leader of a primitive society there. This was a tale on everybody's-lips in Central China. All along the way, the story says, King Mu gave people sea shells as presents.
This may not be mere coincidence, judging by the sea shells found at ancient sites in Xinjiang.
All' this informs us that during the pre-Qin period, Xinjiang and Central China maintained broad and close ties. Silks, bronze mirrors and lacquerware were transported from Central China to Xinjiang,
which exported jade and other local products in exchange. In the 1970s, Chinese archaeologists excavated an ancient royal tomb at the Yin Ruins in Anyang City, in what is present Henan Province. The occupant of the tomb was Fu Hao, wife of King Wu Ding, who reigned 3,200 years ago in the Shang Dynasty (17th century-11th century B.C.). A total of 1,928 relics were found in the tomb, 756
of which were of jade. The Geological Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and experts from Beijing and Anyang jade workshops made a careful study of 300 unearthed jade specimens, and reported that "the jades were largely produced in Xinjiang~' That Xinjiang has carried on considerable economic and Cultural exchanges with other parts of China since antiquity is
evident. These circumstances in early history laid the foundation for Xinjiang to become part of the territory of China in the Han dynasty.

Becoming a Part of China
Xinjiang was officially included in the territory of China in the western Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 24). In 60 B.C., the Han dynasty assigned a Viceroy to the Western Region to take charge of Xiniiang including the area around Lake Balkash and the Pamirs. Unifying Central China in 206 B.C., the Western Hah Dynasty became a strong power. At that time the northern border of China was inhabited by the nomadic Xiongnu or Huns, who frequently swept south and harassed Central China. They also disturbed the
peaceful life of many nationalities in the Western Region, and forced two nomadic tribes Dayuezhi and Wusun, living in the Gansu Corridor to move westward. As they gained control over Loulan and twenty other small city states in the Western Region, the Huns severed the communication between Central China and the Western Region. At this juncture the Han Dynasty pursued a policy of allying
itself with the states in the Western Region to deter the Huns. It was then that Zhang Qian made his historic journey to the Western Region.
According to A History of the FIan Dynasty, Zhang Qian was
born in Chenggu County, Shaanxi Province, and was originally an attendant of the emperor. He volunteered for the post of Emperor Wu's envoy to the Western Region, ignoring the danger. Winning the emperor's approval, he set out in 139 B.C. with a retinue of more than a hundred people. When they were passing through the Gansu Corridor, they were attacked and captured by a cavalry of the Huns and brought to the court of Chanyu, king of the Huns, in
what is present-day Huhhot, capital of Inner Mongolia Autonomous ~ Region. Zhang Qian was imprisoned for eleven years, but he never forgot his mission. Seizing an opportunity, he secretly gathered his retinue and escaped from the Hun court in 129 B.C. Trekking through hundreds of miles of wilderness under harsh conditions, Zhang Qian and his followers passed by the southern foot of the
Tianshan Mountains, crossed the Pamirs and arrived in the Dayuezhi lands by way of Dawan and Kangju (both Soviet territory now). By this time the Dayuezhi people had built new homes in the fertile valley of the Amu River and were living a happy and peaceful life. Their king was unwilling to accept Zhang Qian's proposal for an alliance against the Huns, and although he stayed there for more than a year, Zhang Qian failed to convince the king and was obliged to leave for home. This time he took another road eastward on the southern edge of the Tarim Basin to avoid meeting the Hun cavalry. As they were climbing the Qilian Mountains, however, he and his retinue once more ran into the Huns and were brought to the Hun court and imprisoned again. Luckily, a year later, the king of the Huns died and an internal conflict flared up. Taking advantage of
the confusion, Zhang Qian fled and returned to Chang'an, capital of the Han Dynasty, in 126 B.C. After being away for thirteen years,he returned having lost his entire retinue except for one man, Ganfu,his close attendant.
Although he failed to attain his aim in his journey to the Western Region, Zhang Qian toured many places in what is now Gansu and Qinghai provinces, and north and south of the Tarim Basin in Xinjiang. His reports to Emperor Wu contained a great deal of information on the geography, economy, culture and customs of the states in Western Region. On the basis of this information the
emperor decided to open communications and exchanges with the states in the Western Region.In 121 B.C., two Hun princes in the Gansu Corridor .Hunxie and Xiutu surrendered to the Han government. In 119 B.C.,
Emperor Wu ordered Zhang Qian, as an envoy, to lead 300 persons,each equipped with two horses, to the State of Wusun in the northern part of the Western Region. They took with them 10,000 head of cattle and sheep and a great quantity of gold and silks. Arriving at the State of Wusun without mishap they were well received by the king. During his stay there, Zhang Qian carried out bservations himself and sent his assistants to the states of Dawan,
Kangju, Yuezhi, Anxi, Daxia, Shendu, Yutian and Yumi to make friends with the people there. As a result a number of states sent envoys to come with Zhang Qian and his assistants to the Han capital of Chang'an to return the courtesy of Emperor Wu. From that time the Western Han court established friendly ties with the states in the Western Region and opened the Silk Road, which
contributed to economic and cultural exchanges between the Orient and the West. Following Zhang Qian's second visit to Xinjiang, there were more and more exchanges between the Western Han government and the states in the Western Region. Time and again they conducted joint military operations against the Huns. To strengthen the friendship,
Emperor Wu married Princess Xi Jun, daughter of the Prince of Jiangdu to Liejiaomi, king of the State of Wusun. After the princess died, the emperor sent a new bride, Princess Jie You,granddaughter of the Prince of Chu to Junxumi, the new king of the State of Wusun. Both sides had hoped to consolidate their alliance through these marriages. Feng Liao, a maid accompanying Princess Xie You to Wusun, was very able and smart, and so the king of Wusun assigned her an important mission. As an envoy from the Han Dynasty, Feng Liao visited many states south of the Tianshan
Mountains and was respected by all the .people there who called her "Lady Feng." Once, when the Hun army threatened Wusun, the king and Princess Xie You asked the Western Han government for help. The emperor sent a rescue army, which routed the Huns. The peoples of the Western Region hoped that alliances with Central China would stop the plunder by the Huns and allow them to live a peaceful and prosperous life. In the meantime a split occurred among the rulers of the Huns, and Prince Rizhu of the western division of the Huns surrendered to the Han government, thus breaking the supreme command of the Huns in the Western Region. The time was ripe for the Han Dynasty
to unify the Western Region, and Emperor Xuan appointed Zheng Ji as the first military viceroy to the Western Region in 60 B.C.Zheng Ji had earlier defeated the Huns at Cheshi and was successful in his many military exploits. His appointment marked the official establishment of Xinjiang as part of the territory of China.
At the end of the Western Han Dynasty, Wang Mang usurped the throne, causing commotion in Central China as well as in the Western Region. The Huns took advantage of the situation and took over the Western Region. In 25 A.D., Liu Xiu (Emperor Guang Wu) established the Eastern Han government, following which eighteen states in the Western Region, including Shache, Shanshan, Yanqi and Cheshi, sent their crown princes to the Han capital of Luoyang
to request the restoration of the viceroyalty in the Western Region. In 29 A.D., the Eastern Han government made the prince of Shache the Great Commander of the Western Region. Later in 73 A.D., the Han emperor ordered generals Dou Gu and Geng Zhong to lead an army to attack the northern Huns and captured the Yiwu area. In
this new area they set up an agricultural garrison, and appointed a commander to make sure that the army stationed in the Western Region had a lasting supply of provisions. In the same year General Dou Gu sent an officer named Ban Chao to go south. He successfully organized the three states of Shanshan, Yutian and Shule against the Huns, restoring peace and order in the Western Region. Subsequently, in 74 A.D., the Eastern Han government
reestablished the military viceroy's office in the Western Region, in the city of Taqian, Qiuci southwest of what is today Xinhe (Toksu) County. Between 75 and 76 A.D., on the death of the Han Emperor Ming the Huns seized their opportunity and captured Cheshi, Yanqi, Qiuci
and Liuzhong. As the Xinjiang situation was getting precarious, Ban Chao, who was left to defend Shule and Yutian, won the support of the local officials and people and drove the Hun troops from the city of Gumoshi (north of today's Aksu). Then he wrote to the imperial
court, proposing that they send more troops to the Western Region. Emperor Zhang agreed to his proposal and ordered General Xu Gan to lead an army to help Ban Chao. Xu and Ban attacked and recaptured Qiuci and Yanqi, defeating the Huns' remnant forces south of the Tianshan Mountains. Meanwhile the Han government dispatched General Dou Xian leading an army to the area north of the Tianshan Mountains, where he won a big victory over the Hun forces.
As a result, the states north and south of the Tianshan Mountains were reunified under 'the central government of the I-Ian Dynasty. During the war against the Hun which lasted several decades, Ban Chao distinguished himself as a statesman and strategist. Relying on the various nationalities in the Western Region, he united all the
people and maintained the unity of the empire. In 91 A.D., the Eastern Han government appointed Ban Chao Military Viceroy of the Western Region, with his office in Qiuci. Later the emperor confered the title of Dingyuan Marquis on Ban Chao. For more than thirty years Ban Chao worked in the Western Region until he was seventy, when he retired and returned to Luoyang. Ren Shang succeeded Ban Chao as military viceroy of the Western Region, but as he was unkind and harsh toward the local people they rose against him, plunging the region into disorder. The Han court soon recalled him, and the Huns returned and ruled the
Western Region once again, often harassing the Han territory west of the Yellow River. In 123 A.D., the Eastern Han government decided to recover the Western Region and sent Ban Yong, the son of Ban Chao, to perform the mission. Appointed Superior Officer of
the Western Region, Ban Yong carried on his father's cause and led an army to Liuzhong. He recaptured Qiuci and Gumo, suppressed the Huns and strengthened the frontier of the Western Region. On the basis of his personal experiences and investigations, he wrote the important work An Account of the Western Region, which was later included by Fan Ye in A History of the Later Han Dynasty. The incorporation of the Western Region into China during the Western and Eastern Han dynasties promoted economic and
cultural exchanges between Xinjiang and Central. From Xinjiang fine breeds of horses and such plants as alfalfa, grapes, broad beans, walnuts, garlic, coriander, carrots, cucumbers, pomegranate were brought to other parts of the country. In exchange Xinjiang received tools and expertise in such skills as smelting, silkworm-raising, weaving, well-sinking, ditch-digging and manufacturing hoes and
seed ploughs. The Han soldiers and immigrants opened up
wasteland and built water-conservancy projects to grow crops in Xinjiang, helping the local people develop agriculture and improve their life.
The Han government protected the Silk Road and set up posts along the way. The Silk Road had so much traffic that envoys and traders came and went in an endless stream of convoys, each with a hundred or even several hundred men.
During the Sui and Tang Dynasties The ties between the Western Region and Central China never broke throughout the 390 years from the fall of the Eastern Han Dynasty to the establishment of the Tang Dynasty, which unified
China. During this period, political powers rose and fell: first the Three Kingdoms (220-265 A.D.)