Picture Id: 424365
Caravans once trudged past this Buddhist retreat on the Gobi-skirting northern fork of the 4,000-mile-long Silk Road. Monastic complexes carved into the cliffs in the fourth century are currently undergoing restoration. In the early 1900s, two German archeologists, Albert von Le Coq and Theodor Bartus, removed from these temples dozens of one thousand-year-old Buddhist murals and transported them to the Ethnological Museum in Berlin. Tragically, the museum was repeatedly struck by Allied bombs during World War II, and the murals, which had survived a millennium in the desert, were totally destroyed.
BEZEKLIK, GOBI DESERT, XINJIANG PROVINCE, PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA.
CARY WOLINSKY/National Geographic Creative