The Turpan region sits in the Turpan Depression, a deep trough located in the northeast of the Tarim Basin. In summer it is one of the hottest and driest places in China but in winter temperatures drop to well below zero.
Humans settled here at least 5000 years ago. DNA from the Tarim mummies suggest they were an isolated admixture of Ancient Northeurasian and Northeast Asian people.
The Northern Silk Road passed right through the region, which was long under Jushi rule until in 60 BC the Han dynasty took over.
In the 9th century Chinese, Tibetans and Turks wrestled for control but in 803 AD the Uyghurs won and founded their kingdom with the oasis town of Gaochang as capital.
Originally the Uyghurs were Buddhists but were later forcefully converted to Islam by the Mongol Empire.

Close to Turpan sit the centuries old ruins of Jiaohe and Gaochang, once important cities on the Silk Road.
To the east of Turpan, on the road to Gaochang, rise the red sandstone  Flaming Mountainsthe hottest place in China. Carved into these mountains are the badly damaged Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves.
Thanks to the sunny climate and the ancient but effective  
irrigation channels the Turpan region has developed into a major  agricultural center, producing vegetables and lots of very tasty grapes.
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