Jiaohe is an ancient ruined city and fortress, located in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. The city served as the capital of the Anterior Jushi Kingdom from 108 BC to 450 AD and was a center of trade on the silk road.

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At its peak, Jiaohe had a population of 7,000 inhabitants, and was divided into two residential districts with structures mainly built from earthen  materials, consisting of rammed earth, stacked mud, and mud-bricks. A third district was reserved for Buddhist sites such as temples and stupas, with associated tombs, graves, and Buddhist caves.

Image Credit : Caitriana Nicholson

The name “Jiaohe” is loosely translated as a “castle city of the Jushi Kingdom”. From 450 AD till 640 AD, the city became the Jiao prefecture in the Tang Dynasty and was later established as the seat of the “Protector General of the Western Regions”. By the early 9th century, Jiaohe was the prefecture of the Uyghur Khaganate.

Image Credit : Caitriana Nicholson

The city is bordered by cliffs reaching to heights of 30 meters and archaeological surveys have revealed a low protective parapet reaching heights of 1.5 meters along the cliff edges, as well as lookout posts. The castle city was abandoned and left uninhabited in the middle of the 14th century, except for a small settlement that inhabited the ruins during the Min Era.

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