If we compare between a map of the ancient Silk Road and a map of transportation of mordern Xinjiang, we would be surprised to see that the routes of the Silk Road and the highways of contemporary Xinjiang run on the same or similar direction, for the major modern highways were built on most of the ancient Silk Road route lines and most important cities and towns of contemporaty Xinjiang lie along the ancient silk routes. But when we have a closer observation of the two, we may find there are some fundamental differences between them as some of the important routes and sections of the ancient Silk Road are indispensable to human activities and there are no passages to them, and what is more, ruins of many ancient towns and fortresses are buried in the bleak and disolate gobi-desert.
Double bird Wooden Figure of the Han Dynasty(206 BC-220 AD), unearthed from Shanpla ancient tombs,Luepu, Xinjiang
l. Historical Relics and Cultural Treasures in Xinjiang:the Heritage of the Silk Road and Environmental Changes
Today, when traveling by plane over vast West China, we are much less awed and mystified by the roads that gave the ancient travelers so much awe and unexpected mysteries. However, no matter one is in a train or a jet plane, he must be startled by the scenes he sees:stretching and undulating nlountains and hills, desolate and bleak; vast plains with nothing growing on but pebbles and gravels.