Miran Fort - History and Facts | History Hit

Miran Fort

Hechuan, Chongqing, China

Miran fort is a ruined defensive structure in Miran, Xinjiang, China. The fort was active during the Tibetan Empire, in the 8th and 9th centuries AD.

Peta Stamper

07 Jul 2021
Image Credit: CC / Vic Swift

About Miran Fort

Miran Fort is a ruined defensive structure in Miran, Xinjiang, China. The fort was active during the Tibetan Empire in the 8th and 9th centuries AD. The excavation of the fort at Miran has yielded hundreds of military documents from the 8th and 9th century, which are among the earliest surviving Tibetan manuscripts and as such vital sources for understanding the early history of Tibet.

Miran Fort history

Archaeologist Aurel Stein was the first to study the ruins at Miran. A trial excavation of the fort uncovered 8 rooms and over 100 Tibetan woodslips. Stein returned on January 22 1907 uncovering 44 rooms and discovering many more Tibetan woodslips as well as other miscellaneous objects.

In the fort Stein found Tibetan documents on wood and paper, fragments with a Turkish runic script, palm-leaf documents inscribed with Brahmi characters and Kharosthi texts on silk.

The majority of the manuscript finds from Miran are official Tibetan documents and military information from the fort, written in early Tibetan script on wood or paper, dating from the 8th and 9th centuries. These are some of the earliest examples of the Tibetan script.

Miran Fort today

What stands of the Miran Fort today are a complex of ruined structures including 8 stupas, 3 temples, 2 beacons, several dwellings, tombs, a kiln and a smelting area. Be aware that the site stands back from the highway on uneven ground. There is little if no infrastructure guiding visitors to the site around, so read up on the site’s history before visiting for help imagining what it might have once been like.

Getting to Miran Fort

Located in the remote desert landscape, getting to Miran Fort is really only possible by driving. The site sits juts off the G315 and G218 intersection and is about an 11 hour drive from Turpan or Hami – the closest towns in Xinjiang.

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