"There is an elusive   poetry in the   constantly moving   sands which have   buried entire  oases for  millenniums."

"... choking, disagreeable, omnipresent "loess". "Loess" is the name for the extremely fine particles of "glacial flour" of the Taklamakan Desert, ground infinitesimally fine by heavier rocks brought down by glaciers from the ice summits of the Kun-Lun Mountains.

Every year loess from Xinjiang blows thousands of miles east, all across China, as far as Beijing, draping the air with a dense yellow fog. The windblown dust settles on the ground and solidifies into a compact rich soil layer. This fertilizes the entire north China Plains, feeding millions.

Loess impermeates everything, invading each & every pore, one's nostrils and lungs. The microscopic grit makes it impossible to breathe whenever a herd of sheep pass, a "dong-feng" chugs along, or donkey cart rumbles by."

As I witnessed the menacing sand-storm fog descend upon us all day long, I thought back to the days of antiquity and realized just how easy it was for these encroaching sands to bury alive so many ancient cities....such enchanting names: Loulan, Niya, Yumi, Cherchen,just a few of the "Lost Cities" covered by centuries of insidious loess, suffocating & squeezing the life out of their inhabitants, leaving the oases to a fate of death.

These buried cities disappeared from the living memory of man for centuries to come, until the arrival of the famed, 20th century Western Explorers: Nicholas Prejevalsky, Sven Hedin, Aurel Stein, Paul Pelliot, who finally re-discovered them, previously left to the silence and ever-moving sands of the Taklamakan Desert."


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