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July 17, 2009

In Siberia?
Posted by Teresa at 12:37 AM *

I was browsing the hypnotically fascinating English Russia website and came upon a photo article about an archaeological find:

An Ancient Fortress on the Island

Deep inside Siberia there is a lake, one of thousands others. And in the middle of this lake there is a small island. And on this island people have found an ancient fortress, which is dated more than 1500 years old. Excavations are needed in order to reveal all its view for visitors, but even now from the air its a nice site in different times of the year. First part of photos were made during short Siberian summer …

“Holy bleep,” I said, staring at the first photo; “that looks exactly like a Roman camp.”

Will someone please step forward and explain that it’s a known hoax, or that it’s the ruins of an educational recreation of a Roman camp, or something else along those lines? Otherwise it’s going to make my brain feel all weird and stretchy to try to figure out what a Roman military unit would have been doing in Siberia.

Comments on In Siberia?:
#1 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 01:25 AM:

It would have to be awfully well-preserved. And don't lakes fill in over time?

I have faith that Making Light's commentariat will know.

#2 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 01:31 AM:

I can't enlighten you one bit - but I've stumbled across that same page on English Russia and stayed to marvel at it. Great stuff.

Also from there and pretty amazing, colour photos of Russia in the early 1900s (

#3 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 01:39 AM:

try to figure out what a Roman military unit would have been doing in Siberia

That sounds like the premise for an Astérix story.

#4 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 01:53 AM:

I've seen the early color photos; also, their photo collages from the Siege of Leningrad.

#5 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 01:57 AM:

Found some other comments on the article via Google, with some links.

First, the obligatory "here it is on Google Earth" link:

(Note that that loads some rather low-quality overlay images, but if you uncheck their checkboxes, you can see the actual Google-earth photo.)

Apparently it's called Por-Bazhyn, and it's not actually Roman. (The Google-earth annotations assert 8th-century, but give no cite for that.) Here's some more info about it:

#6 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 01:58 AM:

It's dated as "more than 1500 years old." I can conceive of the idea of Roman organization for a camp being carried back by invading barbarians, rather than it being directly built by Romans. The camp layout that the Romans used is pretty efficient, and I can certainly think the idea might have been used under a Creative Commons license -- no, wait, idea theft....

#7 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 02:03 AM:

Hmm. I posted a couple of links, but my comment got stuck in the moderation queue. Let me try a different Google-Earth one, this time without the hyperlink:

It's called Por-Bazhyn or Por-Bajin, and claimed to be 8th-century. I think Tom's suggestion about it being built "after the style of a Roman camp" rather than actually being Roman sounds pretty plausible.

The first Google Images search result on "Por-Bazhyn" is a rather interesting little archaeological find from the site; I'm not quite sure exactly what it is.

#8 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 02:06 AM:

As far as I can tell from this Wikipedia entry on Bayanchur Khan, the lake is called Tere-Kol, and the fortress is of Uighur origin.

#9 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 02:06 AM:

Oh, and -- what with this being the modern world and all -- it has its own official website:

(I note, as a completely different thing, that the style sheet for "your entry is in the moderation queue" is either hideous or got misloaded when I hit it. I mean, 150-point red-on-blue blink text? Seriously?)

#10 ::: Dr Paisley ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 02:06 AM:

So, there was this ship, like, full of Romans, and they were sailing along, minding their own businesses, and then suddenly the ship was torn apart, and they woke up on a beach, and like some of them were dead, and others missing, and it turned out they were on an island, and they thought it was empty, but there were other people on it, who took some of their women and the children, and then the rest of the people who were on the back end of the boat showed up, and they had been on the other side of the island, and, um, season three or something.

There was, however, no sixty year old scotch, damnit.

#11 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 02:07 AM:

Por-Bajin fortress in Tuva.

#12 ::: Dr Paisley ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 02:09 AM:

Serge @ 3: That sounds like the premise for an Astérix story.

Or a Monty Python bit:

Arthur: If you're Romans, what are you doing in Siberia?

John Cleese: Mind your own business!

#13 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 02:22 AM:

Dr. Paisley @ #9, and then Yakov thought he was crazy 'cos he saw a newspaper headline which said the St. Petersburg Sox had won the World Series of Curling, and he knew that was wrong 'cos they'd never won the World Series since they traded Badenov to the Moscow Marauders in 1918, but. . .

#14 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 02:29 AM:

Addendum to my #12, obviously Yakov was second-generation after intermarriage between the Romans and the locals.

#15 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 02:53 AM:

I'll just sit here waiting for the "Romans go home!" subthread, with side-order of astronomy.

#16 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 03:30 AM:

What would a Roman military unit have been doing in Siberia? Building a Roman camp, of course.

After all, they were a long way from their home airfield; parts would have to be forged (a forge would have to be built); and winter would probably settle in before the repairs to the zeppelins were finished. Roman Aeroexpeditionary Force units had been lost to the Tuvans before (during Valerian's reign, for example); hence the choice of an island position.

This wing made it home safely. The next one, however, was not so fortunate.

#17 ::: Christian Severin ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 04:28 AM:

Sorry, but this looks much too small for an ordinary Roman camp. This looks like any small fortified settlement: big wall all around, small rooms with individual fire places, probably under a single roof all along the wall. You can find the pattern everywhere in the world: Peru, Israel, Italy, the British Isles...

Now, a Roman city would have houses the size of this settlement. A temporary Roman army camp would have wooden palisades and tents, not stone buildings, so there would only be the ditch and earth wall to find. A permanent Roman army camp of stone again would have had room for hundreds of soldiers and some of their families, so it would have been more of a city than this fort.

The only way I see that this could have been Roman is for a single Roman unit in the Eastern Provinces to desert and flee to Siberia (!) to settle there. But that would have made some waves in Rome, and the names of unit and centurio would be known.

But by all means: don't let's be discouraged from speculating. For instance, I pose that Aleksandr Karelin, the Siberian wrestler, descends from a long line of Greco-Roman champions that ruled that very settlement.

#18 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 04:47 AM:

16: I disagree - I think you've misjudged the scale. According to the website cited in 8, the structure is 211m by 158m - marching camps obviously varied in size depending on the number of troops, but that's easily enough to fit a force of cohort strength or more.

It's the setting that makes me suspicious - I don't think Romans would build on an island, either temporarily or permanently. They had more faith in themselves.

#19 ::: heckblazer ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 05:19 AM:

A roman camp and the fort in the above picture both look rectilinear, but that's about all the resemblance I see. Instead of rows of barracks the inside appears to be a courtyard lined with rooms. The website mentioned by Brooks Moses at #8 handily has a floorplan which shows only one gate and rooms that aren't terribly symmetrical, making it look about as un-Roman to me as you can get without abandoning all use of both planning and quadrilaterals.

While it's in Tuva and that technically is part of Siberia, it's so far south that it would be more useful to think of it as being part of Mongolia, the nation it directly borders.

#20 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 05:47 AM:

It's superficially Roman, but it doesn't have the right internal structure - those cells along the outside edge look like individual living spaces (if I'm correctly interpreting the spiral marks in the centres as hearths), there's no via principalis, and the central structure is the wrong shape and layout to be either a temple or a legionary admin centre.

In addition, its website says it's made from clay and body brick, which would be entirely wrong for a Roman camp. Also, the Romans rarely built things on top of glaciers.

It's apparently very similar to the Black City of Kharabalgasun, where the green dragon glorifies the khagans.

The World Uyghur Congress has an article on Por-Bajin here.

#21 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 07:48 AM:

The web site pointed out by Brooks Moses (@8) and TomB (@10) notes that Por Baijin is currently the focus of a fairly major archaeological survey, partly because they're afraid it may get submerged within the next five years(!).

It also appears that the military architecture was Chinese:

As early as the first stage the academics came to the conclusion that Por-Bajin was built under the strong influence of traditional Chinese architecture. Technologies widely in use during the time of the Tan [sic] dynasty were employed in the construction of the fortress.

Images of large-eared Chinese dragons, which protected Por-Bajin from evil spirits, were found during the excavations. One more interesting find: not far from the fortress a rock quarry was discovered.

(I'm guessing "Tan dynasty" is "Tang dynasty", which is the right time frame.)

I'll confess that I do like the idea of a lost Roman unit -- perhaps the survivors of one of the various Persian-Roman battles in Mesopotamia -- somehow making its way east, like the Czech "legion" that ended up in Vladivostok in the aftermath of the First World War.

#22 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 08:27 AM:

So how Brutus's dead actually confirmed?

#24 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 08:32 AM:

Oh, that's easy. It was created by some SCAdian trying to justify his/her persona.

#25 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 08:44 AM:

The four-walled square court is one of the oldest architectural forms. In the West, it comes from Persia where, yes, a four-walled garden with a cross-shaped pattern of water channels was once called (allowing for linguistic change) a "paradise." I suppose there was cultural contact between ancient Persia and China, but four walls in four directions is a pretty obvious idea in any event, so I call for convergence rather than diffusion.

I really like Roman Aeroexpeditionary Force, though!

#26 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 08:58 AM:

24: me too. Picturing the Emperor Augustus, inconsolable, wandering the Palace crying "Quintili Vare, Zeppelines redde!" (Modern historians agree that the daylight raid on Arminius' aeroengine plants in the Teutoberger Wald was a foolhardy move by Varus; the Roman switch to night-time area bombing followed shortly afterwards.)

#27 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 09:22 AM:

Just saw this here. ISTR there was a news story about this very fort about four months back or so. I wonder what a dig of the site would find out.

#28 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 09:25 AM:

That "English Russia" site has a lot of very strange stuff, ranging from a quite racy advertising calendar (NSFW) and russian haired sausages (SFW, actually), to bear growers and a pet fisher cat.

#29 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 09:27 AM:

Defeated legionaires from Crassus' army at Carrhae are sold into slavery by the Persians to msyterious strangers. The strangers turn out to be aliens, who use the Romans to subdue low-tech planets--the aliens all belong to a trade league that prohibits high tech interference with other cultures. Between deployments, the Romans are kept at a secret base on a remote Siberian island . . .

Didn't David Drake already write this book?

#30 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 10:05 AM:

Also: steampunk tableware.

#31 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 10:19 AM:

"Romanes eunt domus!"

#32 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 11:25 AM:

Joel @ 24

I learned long ago never to read ML while drinking. This is good, otherwise, you'd owe me a keyboard.

David @ 30 - those are cool. I really like the iron dress form/lamp. I need that in my sewing room.

Theresa: It's a lovely bit of congruence that it's a Uighur camp/fort, given what else is going on in the world right now. Unintentional reminders...

#33 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 11:59 AM:

What's strange is that if you do the archeology, it's actually the fourth castle there. It appears that the first one sank into the swamp. And the second. The third looks like it burned first, but it's such a jumble that it's really hard to tell.

#34 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 12:36 PM:

The Roman forts you linked to all seem to have long rectangular barracks - a feature I don't see here. All of the rooms/buildings seem to be square.

The Roman examples also have a space between the buildings and the wall, while this has the fortress wall serving as one of the walls for the rooms/homes/buildings that border the wall.

There is also the wide-open square space in the center, larger than any of the rooms/buidings, which is another feature missing in the Roman examples.

I'd have to go with Randolph that this looks more like a four-walled square court building.

#35 ::: Andrew L. ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 01:11 PM:

"Romanes eunt insula!"

#36 ::: Cassandra ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 01:42 PM:

David @ 28:

Just a point: a fishing cat is not a fisher cat.

#37 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 01:49 PM:

Actually, this rather reminds me of the Lake Palace in Rajastan, India. Particularly the way that the walls seem to come almost to the edge of the island.

The location makes sense as some sort of luxury retreat (where the elites go to escape the summer heat), or perhaps a temple or some other ceremonial use, rather than as a functioning community or fortress.

It isn't a town - it would be hard to keep supplied, and there isn't really room for any farming, etc. Similar problem as a fort - you could retreat to it, but it would be hard to counterattack from it. A functioning fort needs a lot of contact with the surrounding community to support it - providing food, firewood and all the other necessities of life.

#38 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 03:07 PM:

Cassandra #36: Whoops, my error. The guy's English is so uneven, I "assumed" and mis-corrected him.

#39 ::: Liza ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 03:33 PM:

From the article: Deep inside Siberia there is a lake... And in the middle of this lake there is a small island. And on this island people have found an ancient fortress...

...and the tree was in the hole, and the hole was in the ground, and the green grass grew all around, all around, and the green grass grew all around. :-)

#40 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 03:40 PM:

Brooks Moses, #9: Yes, that template is one of the things that got screwed up in the upgrade. Abi and Martin Sutherland are currently offline and traveling; I imagine they or we will fix it soon.

#41 ::: diana ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 07:01 PM:

"The only way I see that this could have been Roman is for a single Roman unit in the Eastern Provinces to desert and flee to Siberia..."

as Serge suggested, cue the Asterix joke....

re erik's "It appears that the first one sank into the swamp. And the second. The third looks like it burned first..." there's a Monty Python joke for this one as well, but I think it's the Holy Grail, not Life of Brian.

#42 ::: Tracey ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 07:34 PM:

And Por-Bajin has an official site:

#43 ::: Chrissl ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 08:49 PM:

I wonder how sites like this are faring under the current Uighur/Chinese political situation. As I understand it, the Chinese are bent on confirming that the Uighur province(s) have "always" been part of China, while the Uighurs themselves clearly have some non-Chinese historical background going on (which of course the Chinese then have to downplay). In particular, I'm told this is affecting the progress of access/research/publication on the mummies of Urumchi.

#44 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 08:51 PM:

I seem to remember reading about a village in western China that claims to be descended from Roman soldiers sold into slavery by the Persians. It didn't mention their zeppelins, though ....

#45 ::: Mashell ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 08:54 PM:

Is it wrong that I immediately thought of the Goauld?

#46 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 09:31 PM:

Speaking of islands on lakes, etc. :

#47 ::: Jannie Funster ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 11:09 PM:

That's cool. I love old ruins and such. I found one in our back yard yesterday, should mow the lawn more often.

#48 ::: Harriet Culver ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2009, 11:46 PM:

What was that old yarn that Andre Norton alluded to in her introductory paragraphs to Star Rangers (or, as I first knew it in its Ace incarnation, The Last Planet) about the old Roman legion (or subdivision thereof) that got on the bad side of their emperor (or official in the chain of command) and, to get rid of them, orders were cut that told them to march "thataway, and keep going" or words to that effect. Norton's Patrol ships were said to have fallen afoul of a corrupt Inner Planets power in much the same way, which explained why Katr and Zinga and their cohort were hitting the space lanes so far out from Central as to run across the fabulous lost Terra.

The Norton Analogy simply leapt to mind this morning when I first spotted this ML entry...OTOH, cue the Asterix story again :-)

#49 ::: Martin Schafer ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 01:01 AM:

I spent some scrolling around the map and reading up on the silk road. The site is about 700 miles NE of Urumqi the capital of modern Xinjiang province. The northern branch of the silk road runs through that area. Around 650 CE a local government center was founded near modern Urumqi.

Our site is along the northern edge of the Gokturkh empire (552-747 CE) and in the middle of the area covered by the Uyghur empire (742-848 CE). So it is in an area at a time where trade is flowing between the eastern Roman Empire and China.

Now the trade is mostly conducted by Sogdians at this point but if you really wanted Siberian Romans you could have them. Of course we have the archeologists ruining the fun telling us this was built by Chinese, but there you go.

#50 ::: heckblazer ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 06:10 AM:

Martin Schafer at #49:

Yeah, the Silk Road generated some interesting cultural fusion like Buddha statues carved in a naturalistic Greek style and Christian missionaries writing the Jesus Sutras.

There's even a 1,400 year old mosque in Xi'an, the old capital of China. Built in the style of a pagoda, of course.

Roman Legionaries are still pushing it though. The Tibetan army wouldn't have stood for it ;).

A fun book on the topic of the European exploration of the area is Foreign Devils on the Silk Road by Peter Hopkirk. Those guys really did act like Indiana Jones, including looting anything that wasn't nailed down (and some things that were).

#51 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 06:21 AM:

Martin Schafer @ 49:

If you want to keep consistency with the apparent age of the site, then you need to have Byzantines, who by the 8th Century I imagine had long abandoned the classical legion camp styles.

There's apparently some evidence for a Roman envoy, sent by either Antoninus Pius or Marcus Aurelius, making it all the way to Han Chinese territory in what's now central Vietnam around 166 AD, though some argue that these were Roman merchants claiming to be envoys. This expedition probably traveled by sea, though; overland travel would have been difficult due to the Parthian Empire[*].

[*] In the sense that the Parthians were often enemies of Rome, and wouldn't have wanted to give up their control of trade coming along the Silk Road. There are Chinese records which explicitly state that the Parthians tried to prevent direct contact between Rome and China.

#52 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 11:10 AM:

I thought I was going to see a Fishing Cat

#53 ::: chris y ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 11:23 AM:

I can't get an idea of the scale of this thing, but it strikes me there are significant features of a Roman camp which are not there - most notably the viae. Your standard castra had a wide road leading from the main gate up to the central administrative block and continuing behind it, and another crossing the camp in front of said block. These gave the troopd space to form up and enabled them to march in and out in formation.

There's maybe a path leading into this one, but the others are missing, most notably the transverse one. So I'd go with it having been built by someone who'd heard about Roman camps, as suggested above.

Also, did the Romans ever build camps on lake islands? The purpose of permanent camps was usually to control the surrounding territory, which isn't so easy if you have to embark your troops in boats before making a sally, and then disembark them, which is a very vulnerable operation.

But I'd love to know what it is.

#54 ::: Tam ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 11:39 AM:

I don't think it's Roman (at least, not pre-Byzantine). The avenues aren't very well defined and there's too much built up against the walls.

That said, wow. If it was a Roman fort… that would be really, really cool.

#55 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 02:40 PM:

ajay #18: "It's the setting that makes me suspicious - I don't think Romans would build on an island, either temporarily or permanently. They had more faith in themselves."

Maybe it wasn't an island when it was built, but a low hill.

#56 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 03:32 PM:

Good point, Jon H. Or maybe it was just high ground in a Siberian snowfield.

You know the palace at Alexandria where Cleopatra VII was killed is under water now, right? This stuff changes all the time.

#57 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 07:31 PM:

That'd make it even more impressive - geomorphology shows that the lake's been there for 10,000 years. So you have this permafrost island, in the middle of a largeish lake, and someone says: I want a settlement there. Right there. I like the view. And the expensive imported Chinese architect says, Worr, it'll cost you, squire. And he says, luckily I have all these leftover Roman plans. You'll only have to change a few things. Get it done by next March or I'll decapitate you.

So he gets it done by next March, and it falls into the swamp. Then the second one falls into the swamp. The third one burns down, then falls into the swamp. The fourth one vanishes shortly after construction. Then they send a crack squad of Roman military engineers back 10,000 years through time in order to shore up the foundations properly, along with a legion of misfits and criminals to keep the dinosaurs off while they work.

Then six months later, the boss decides he doesn't like the view enough to put up with living on a permafrost island and having to import everything, and they all go home.

#58 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 09:29 PM:

If it's a Roman fort, Mary Gentle wrote the book.

#59 ::: Harriet Culver ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2009, 12:00 AM:

Yeah. The Last Planet.

Prologue. There is an old legend of a Roman Emperor who, to show his power, singled out the Tribune of a loyal legion and commanded that he march his men across Asia to the end of the world. And so a thousand men vanished into the hinterland of the largest continent, to be swallowed up forever..."

And in some branch of the timestream, Teresa's startled recognition of a Roman camp in Siberia IS that of a legionary camp, and the last known stopping place of those brave and loyal men.

Andre Norton. Ghu how I loved her books. More than RAH or any others of the boys, she was my gateway into interplanetary science fiction. Specfic I'd been reading all my life, and I suppose, actually, that the original Tom Swift (read in second and third grade) was skiffy, but Outer Space - that was Norton for me.

#60 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2009, 03:27 PM:

I'd heard a similar story, but it was about a Tsar. It seems he was inspecting a regiment one day and one of the soldiers was missing a button*. "Get marching" said the Tsar. "Where too?" asked the commander. "To Siberia" said the Tsar.

They were never seen again.

Either this story grew out of the suspiciously unnamed Roman Emperor, or, and I like this idea better, the Tsar had heard the roman story and decided to reenact it.

* Or similar breach of uniform

#61 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2009, 03:42 PM:

Neil Willcox @ 60... Could one say that they went on a Tsar Trek?

#62 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2009, 05:49 PM:


I'm sure the story was just an invention of a little old lady from St. Petersburg.

#63 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2009, 05:53 PM:

Bless you, Harriet. I'd forgotten all about Zinga! I do hope they stand up to rereading, but I loved them enough that I suspect I won't care.

#64 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2009, 09:05 PM:

Harriet@48 & 59: I was wondering how long it would take for someone to come up with the first thing that hit my mind on the description. That was maybe the second Andre Norton book I read; it's probably horribly out of style now (her pace seems glacial (even erratic?) to my adult self) but it made a hell of an impact at the time -- especially the contrast between the anti-BEM villains and the tolerant heroes. I suspect that some part of the fraction of civility I show comes from my having read a lot of Norton before getting further into Heinlein than Rocket Ship Galileo.

It sounds like you (still?) have the book. (Damfino why I don't after a long spell of buying several shelf-feet per Worldcon from Glen Cook in his heyday; now I'm going to have to grovel through the web to find a copy.) Was the lead really named "Katr" rather than "Kartr"? Memory fades....

#65 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 05:01 PM:

rea#29: wrote "Defeated legionaires from Crassus' army at Carrhae are sold into slavery by the Persians to msyterious strangers."

That story is in Pliny!

"Next comes the district of Margiane,5 so remarkable for its sunny climate. It is the only spot in all these regions that produces the vine, being shut in on every side by verdant and refreshing hills. This district is fifteen hundred stadia in circumference, but is rendered remarkably difficult of access by sandy deserts, which extend a distance of one hundred and twenty miles: it lies opposite to the country of Parthia, and in it Alexander founded the city of Alexandria. This place having been destroyed by the barbarians, Antiochus, the son of Seleucus, rebuilt it on the same site as a Syrian city. For, seeing that it was watered by the Margus, which passes through it, and is afterwards divided into a number of streams for the irrigation of the district of Zothale, he restored it, but preferred giving it the name of Antiochia. The circumference of this city is seventy stadia: it was to this place that Orodes conducted such of the Romans as had survived the defeat of Crassus."

Chrissl#43: "I wonder how sites like this are faring under the current Uighur/Chinese political situation. As I understand it, the Chinese are bent on confirming that the Uighur province(s) have "always" been part of China, while the Uighurs themselves clearly have some non-Chinese historical background going on"

Seeing as Uighur is in effect a dialect of Turkish - I believe it it is rather different from Anatolian Turkish and Azeri, but mutually intelligible with Kazkh, Uzbek and Turkmen. I doubt if even the Chinese could wipe out all that history very quickly.

Marilee#58 wrote: "If it's a Roman fort, Mary Gentle wrote the book."

Or will have already written the book :-)

#66 ::: John D. Berry ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2009, 12:30 AM:

It doesn't look Roman; it just looks quadrilateral. As a couple of people have pointed out, there are no streets – an essential part of any Roman camp. And no four gates.

Nice starting point for some imaginative speculation, but the starting-point idea is bogus.

As to China – well, doesn't every country like to claim that its natural boundaries are whatever happened to be the greatest extent that they conquered, at any point in their history? Consider what size that would make Lithuania...

#67 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2009, 03:30 AM:
So he gets it done by next March, and it falls into the swamp. Then the second one falls into the swamp. The third one burns down, then falls into the swamp. The fourth one vanishes shortly after construction.

"It was the dawn of a new age of mankind, ten years after the China/Uighur war. The Por-Bajin Project was a dream given form.
Its goal: to prevent another war by creating a place where Chinese and Uighur could work out their differences peacefully. It's a port of call - home away from home for diplomats, hustlers, entrepreneurs, and wanderers. Chinese and Uighur wrapped in five hundred thousand tons of rock, all alone in the ice. It can be a dangerous place, but it's our last best hope for peace. This is the story of the last of the Por-Bajin stations. The year is 759. The name of the place is Por-Bajin 5."

#68 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2009, 06:08 AM:

CHiP, I remember it as "Kartr", but I could be wrong.

#69 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2009, 07:59 AM:

This version has "Kartr". Link goes to Roman story in Prologue. Name is in next chapter.

#70 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2009, 09:19 AM:

Thanks, it's been a long time since I read that book.

It's in the Baen Free Library, part of a collection called Star Soldiers, which may be why I missed it earlier.

#71 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2009, 10:44 AM:

Owlmirror, #67: Thank you. I was thinking about that too.

#72 ::: Dr. Psycho ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2009, 07:44 PM:

It reminds me of the tiny Pacific island in A. Merritt's "The Moon Pool", which was square because it was actually the temple built on a Lemurian mountaintop.

#73 ::: Neeta ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2013, 01:43 AM:

I dont want to add to the bewilderment here, but the fact is that the ancient name of Siberia which is 'Shibir' or 'Shivir' means 'camp' in Sanskrit. Our ancient books say that Siberia was known as 'Shivir' or 'camp' in India because whoever went there did not stay permanently - but returned to camps every year when the weather warmed. Dont know but this might be one of the camps or 'Shivirs'!

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