Hara Hoto

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Hara Hoto


the ruins of the city-fortress of Edzin (or Hei-jungch’eng), the center of one of the military districts of Hsi Hsia along the lower Edzin-Gol river.

Hara Hoto is first mentioned in written sources of the early 11th century; it was destroyed in 1226 by Genghis Khan. It was excavated in 1908, 1909, and 1926 by expeditions led by P. K. Kozlov. The rectangular-shaped city (440 × 360 m) was surrounded by clay walls with bastions, towers, and suburgans (Buddhist cult buildings). The layout of the streets, with the ruins of shops, workshops, inns, warehouses, and dwellings, was traced; the homes of the wealthy and the temples were faced with glazed tiles. Tilled fields, a canal system, and estates surrounded the city. The excavations uncovered numerous tools and handcrafted articles, various documents, Chinese coins, and the world’s first paper money, issued during the Yüan dynasty. One of the suburgans (the Illustrious) yielded objects of Buddhist worship (religious images, engravings, sculpture), more than 2,000 books and manuscripts in Tangut, Tibetan, and Chinese, and a Tangut dictionary containing a key to deciphering Tangut writing.

The finds from Hará Hoto are housed at the State Hermitage in Leningrad.


Lubo-Lesnichenko, E. I., and T. K. Shafranovskaia. Mertvyi Gorod Khara-Khoto. Moscow, 1968.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.