Sheng Chunshou, an engineer working with the team, said the survey would enable them to generate maps of the old city by the end of the year. The maps will be the most accurate representations of the ruins to date. The authorities will use them to develop measures to restore and protect the ancient site.
Milan first came to notice in 1907 when Aurel Stein, a British-Hungarian explorer, found murals depicting winged angels. He estimated that the angels probably dated back some 2000 years.
Modern research confirms this. Archaeologists believe that the angel murals reflect a Roman – probably early Christian – influence on the local population. This indicates the deep cultural exchanges between China and Europe during the Western Han Dynasty.
The city is located in the southern part of Lop Nur in Xinjiang, 900 kilometres from the regional capital, Urumqi. It was an important transportation hub during the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-24 AD). It was a major stop on the Silk Road, which connected Xi’an, the capital of the Western Han Dynasty, with Europe.