Shanshan County

Shanshan County (Chinese: 鄯善县) as the official romanized name, also transliterated from Uyghur as Piqan County (Uighur: پىچان ناھىيىسى; Chinese: 皮羌县), is a county within the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and is under the administrative jurisdiction of the prefecture-level city of Turpan. It contains an area of 39,548 km2 (15,270 sq mi), occupying the eastern majority of Turpan. According to the 2002 census, it has a population of 210,000.

Shanshan County

鄯善县پىچان ناھىيىسى
Sheds for drying grapes in the desert outside Shanshan
Sheds for drying grapes in the desert outside Shanshan
Location of Piqan within Xinjiang (China).png
Shanshan is located in Xinjiang
Location of the seat in Xinjiang
Coordinates: 42°52′08″N 90°12′47″E / 42.869°N 90.213°E / 42.869; 90.213Coordinates: 42°52′08″N 90°12′47″E / 42.869°N 90.213°E / 42.869; 90.213
CountryPeople's Republic of China
Autonomous regionXinjiang
Prefecture-level cityTurpan
Time zoneUTC+8 (China Standard)
Shanshan County
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese鄯善县
Traditional Chinese鄯善縣
Alternative Chinese name
Simplified Chinese皮羌县
Traditional Chinese皮羌縣
Uyghur name
Uyghurپىچان ناھىيىسى

The county seat is in Shanshan Town.


The county is named after the ancient Shanshan Kingdom, although the kingdom was actually located mostly outside of the borders of the modern county, in the Lop Nur area. The place was originally named Piqian, and the Grand coordinator and provincial governor of Xinjiang proposed the name of Shanshan when Guangxu Emperor decided to set up a county in 1902.[1]


The local geology and the desert climate made it possible to discover a number of important fossil sites in the area, including China's largest cluster of fossilized dinosaur tracks and China's largest dinosaur.[2] Important dinosaur sites are associated with the Lianmuqin Formation (named after Lianmuqin Town) and the Subashi Formation (named after Subashi Village (42°55′16″N 89°44′39″E / 42.9212°N 89.7441°E / 42.9212; 89.7441) in Tuyugou Township (吐峪沟乡).[3] The Shanshanosaurus is named after Shanshan.

In 2008–2011, a team of German and Chinese paleontologists discovered and studied an "enormous" accumulation of Jurassic turtle fossils at a site they nicknamed "Mesa Chelonia", approximately 25 km (16 mi) NNE of Shanshan Town. It is estimated that at least 1,800 skeletons of freshwater turtles, preliminary identified as belonging to the Annemys species were buried in this bone bed, in a stratigraphic layer probably belonging to the Qigu Formation. The researchers suggest that during a drought the turtles congregating at one of the few remaining water sources, and died there once that last water hole dried out. Then the skeletons were transported to the present location by a debris flow during a catastrophic rainfall event, forming a Konzentrat-Lagerstätte.[4][5]

According to the paleontologist Walter Joyce, the Shanshan find has more than doubled the total number of Jurassic turtle specimens known to science.[5] The excavated fossils have been transported to Shanshan Town, where they will be housed in the county museum (currently under construction).[4]

On January 6, 2009, five well-preserved mummies of ethnic Han men who lived during the Qing dynasty were excavated at a construction site near the Flaming Mountains in the county.[6]

In June 2013, an incident in Lukchun lead to the deaths of dozens.[7]


Biratar Bulak is a spring in the southern part of the county.[8][9]


Shanshan is served by China National Highway 312, the Lanzhou–Xinjiang Railway and Shanshan Airport.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Large Jurassic dinosaur fossil discovered in Xinjiang, Xinhua, 2012-04-15
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Wings, Oliver; Rabi, Márton; Schneider, Jörg W.; Schwermann, Leonie; Sun, Ge; Zhou, Chang-Fu; Joyce, Walter G. (2012), "An enormous Jurassic turtle bone bed from the Turpan Basin of Xinjiang, China", Naturwissenschaften, 114 (11): 925–35, Bibcode:2012NW.....99..925W, doi:10.1007/s00114-012-0974-5, PMID 23086389, S2CID 17423081
  5. ^ a b Gannon, Megan (October 31, 2012), "Jurassic turtle graveyard found in China",
  6. ^ "Well preserved mummies found in Xinjiang", China Daily
  7. ^ Shohret Hoshur, Joshua Lipes (28 July 2013). "Two Uyghurs Believed Killed in Hotan Violence". Radio Free Asia. Translated by Dolkun Kamberi and Luisetta Mudie. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
  8. ^ Complete Atlas Of The World (3 ed.). Penguin Random House. 2016. p. 238 – via Internet Archive. Shanshan{...}Biratar Bulak
  9. ^ Biratar Bulak (Approved - N) at GEOnet Names Server, United States National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency