Here is something interesting to see if you’re ever in Tuva. From the Siberian Times:

Mysterious mountain palace, one of the wonders of Siberia, was built in 777 AD

By Anna Liesowska

Breathtaking island complex close to Mongolian border rumoured to have been built for tragic Chinese princess.

New scientific findings have pin-pointed the date of the construction of stunning Por-Bajin in Lake Tere-Khol some 2,300 metres above sea level.

It was designed only for summer living between the magnificent Sayan and Altai ranges but in fact was never occupied.

Its purpose and inspiration have long perplexed experts, and it has amazed almost everyone who has ever ventured here to the very centre point of Eurasia.

As President Vladimir Putin said: ‘I have been to many places, I have seen many things. But I have never seen anything of the kind.’

Now, though, Por-Bajin has given up one key secret.

Research by the University of Groningen using a special carbon-14 dating technique has now established it was built in 777 AD, two decades later than the previous best guesses.

‘In the complex, the scientists found a beam with a spike from the year 775. As they were able to ascertain that the tree was felled two years later, the complex must have been constructed in 777,’ says a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The findings likely undermine the romantic theory that this was a royal summer home, as espoused by local academic Demir Tulush, of Tuva Institute of Humanities and Social and Economic Research.

He had suggested the version that it could be have been a ‘summer palace built for a Kha Khan’s wife’, possibly the spouse or intended partner of Byogyu-kagan, son of Boyan-Chor.

‘It is known that Chinese princesses could become the wives of Uighur and Turk Kha Khans,’ he explained.

‘Probably, one such princess was destined to live in this palace, but something happened to her on the way here, and she never came to the site. It was totally abandoned in 30 or 40 years.’

More at the link, including lots of images. I reprint the one at Wikipedia:

“Aerial view of site of Por-Bazhyn taken from a microlight plane before start of excavation season 2007.”


I have no idea why the People’s Republic of China feels it has to oppress the Uyghurs of Xinjiang Province as much as it currently does. Reinhardt’s Pam Wilson has been following this sad story; below are some excerpts of stories she has alerted me to:

The Wall Street Journal:

After Mass Detentions, China Razes Muslim Communities to Build a Loyal City

Authorities take down once-bustling Uighur neighborhoods to create a compliant economic hub

By Josh Chin and Clément Bürge

URUMQI, China — In this old Silk Road city in western China, a state security campaign involving the detention of vast numbers of people has moved to its next stage: demolishing their neighborhoods and purging their culture.

Two years after authorities began rounding up Urumqi’s mostly Muslim ethnic Uighur residents, many of the anchors of Uighur life and identity are being uprooted. Empty mosques remain, while the shantytown homes that surrounded them have been replaced by glass towers and retail strips like many found across China.

Food stalls that sold fresh nang, the circular flatbread that is to Uighur society what baguettes are to the French, are gone. The young men who once baked the nang (or nan in Uighur) have disappeared, as have many of their customers. Uighur-language books are missing from store shelves in a city, the capital of China’s Xinjiang region, that has long been a center of the global Uighur community.

Supplanting the Turkic culture that long defined large parts of Urumqi is a sanitized version catering to Chinese tourists. On a recent morning in the Erdaoqiao neighborhood, the once-bustling heart of Uighur Urumqi, nang ovens were nowhere to be seen — but souvenir shops sold nang-shaped pocket mirrors, nang bottle openers and circular throw pillows with covers printed to look like nang.

LOGIC: A Magazine About Technology:

Ghost World

by Darren Byler

In northwest China, the state is using technology to pioneer a new form of terror capitalism.

In mid-2017, a Uyghur man in his twenties, whom I will call Alim, went to meet a friend for lunch at a mall in his home city, in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China. At a security checkpoint at the entrance, Alim scanned the photo on his government-issued identification card, and presented himself before a security camera equipped with facial recognition software. An alarm sounded. The security guards let him pass, but within a few minutes he was approached by officers from the local “convenience police station,” one of the thousands of rapid-response police stations that have been built every 200 or 300 meters in the Turkic Muslim areas of the region. The officers took him into custody.

Alim’s heart was racing. Several weeks earlier, he had returned to China from studying abroad. As soon as he landed back in the country, he was pulled off the plane by police officers responding to a nationwide warrant for his arrest. He was told his trip abroad meant that he was now under suspicion of being “unsafe.” The police then administered what they call a “health check,” which involves collecting several types of biometric data, including DNA, blood type, fingerprints, voice signature and face signature—a process which all adults in Xinjiang are expected to undergo. (According to China’s official news agency, Xinhua, nearly 36 million people submitted biometric data through these “health checks,” a number which is higher than the estimated 24.5 million people who have official residency in the region.) Then they transported him to one of the hundreds of detention centers that dot northwest China.

Over the past five years, these centers have become an important node in China’s technologically driven “People’s War on Terror.” Officially launched by the Xi Jinping administration in 2014, this war supposedly began as a response to Uyghur mass protests—themselves born out of desperation over decades of discrimination, police brutality, and the confiscation of Uyghur lands—and to attacks directed against security forces and civilians who belong to the Han ethnic majority. In the intervening period, the Chinese government has come to treat almost all expressions of Uyghur Islamic faith as signs of potential religious extremism and ethnic separatism under vaguely defined anti-terrorism laws; the detention centers are the first stop for those suspected of such crimes. Since 2017 alone, more than 1 million Turkic Muslims have moved through these centers.


Uyghurs and allies urge action against China in Washington

Jennifer Hansler

Zeynep Ablajan said she hasn’t been able to speak to her husband, Yalkun Rozi, in over two years. He is a Uyghur scholar and textbook author who was detained in Xinjiang, China in October 2016. That was the last time she heard his voice.

“It is torturing looking back,” she told CNN through a translator. “I didn’t expect that would be my last contact with my husband.”

Ablajan said that he was accused of “disseminating separatist ideology” and sentenced in 2018 to 15 years in prison — a sentence Ablajan said was predetermined and came after a “sham trial.” Ablajan said she doesn’t know where her husband is.

“I’m very concerned about his health,” she told CNN, adding that she wants to “hear his voice” and “know if he’s okay.”Ablajan was one of dozens of members of the Uyghur community, advocates and lawmakers who gathered on Capitol Hill in Washington Monday to recognize the plight of the Uyghurs and other persecuted minorities being detained in China. The evening reception capped a day of activism on the Hill organized by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

The US State Department, according to its most recent Human Rights Report, estimates that China has “arbitrarily detained 800,000 to possibly more than two million Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and other Muslims in internment camps designed to erase religious and ethnic identities.”

“International media, human rights organizations, and former detainees reported security officials in the camps abused, tortured, and killed some detainees,” the report noted.

The Chinese government claims that the camps are “vocational and educational training centers for counter-terrorism and de-radicalization purposes.”

I would post some pictures of the Uyghurs I met when I was in Xinjaing in 2005, save for the unfortunate possibility that they will cause trouble for people.