The Info List - Aurel Stein

Sir Marc Aurel Stein, KCIE, FRAS, FBA [1] (Hungarian: Stein Márk Aurél; 26 November 1862 – 26 October 1943) was a Hungarian-born British archaeologist, primarily known for his explorations and archaeological discoveries in Central Asia. He was also a professor at Indian universities. Stein was also an ethnographer, geographer, linguist and surveyor. His collection of books and manuscripts taken from Dunhuang
caves is important for the study of the history of Central Asia
Central Asia
and the art and literature of Buddhism. He wrote several volumes on his expeditions and discoveries which include Ancient Khotan, Serindia and Innermost Asia.


1 Early life 2 Expeditions 3 Great Game 4 Honours 5 Publications 6 See also 7 References 8 References and further reading 9 External links

Early life[edit] Stein was born to Nathan Stein and Anna Hirschler, a Jewish couple residing in Budapest
in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His parents and his sister retained their Jewish faith but Stein and his brother, Ernst Eduard, were baptised as Lutherans, apparently to free them from the anti-semitism which would have denied them access to education and advancement.[2] At home the family spoke German and Hungarian, the language of Hungarian nationalist revival in the 19th century,[3] and Stein was proud of this heritage for the rest of his life. He attended Catholic and Lutheran
gymnasiums in Budapest, where he mastered Greek, Latin, French, and English before going on for advanced study at Universities of Vienna, Leipzig and Tübingen. He graduated in Sanskrit
and Persian and received his Ph.D. from Tübingen in 1883.[4] In 1884 he went to England to study oriental languages and archaeology. He became a British citizen in 1904[5] and made his famous expeditions with British sponsorship. In 1887, Stein went to India, where he joined the Punjab University as Registrar. Later, between 1888 and 1899, he was the Principal of Oriental College, Lahore.[6] Stein was influenced by Sven Hedin's 1898 work Through Asia. Realizing the importance of Central Asian history and archaeology he sent a proposal to the government to explore, map and study the people of Central Asia. In May 1900 he received the approval to lead an expedition to Chinese Turkestan which was strategically located in High Asia where the Russians and Germans were already taking interest. Expeditions[edit]

Photograph of Aurel Stein, with his dog and research team, in the Tarim Basin

Stein made four major expeditions to Central Asia—in 1900–1901, 1906–1908, 1913–1916 and 1930.[7] He brought to light the hidden treasure of a great civilization which by then was practically lost to the world. One of his significant finds during his first journey during 1900–1901 was the Taklamakan
Desert oasis of Dandan Oilik where he was able to uncover a number of relics. During his third expedition in 1913–1916, he excavated at Khara-Khoto.[8]

Map of Taklamakan
from Stein's Serindia 1921, vol. V.

Letter from Aurel Stein
Aurel Stein
to Rudolf Hoernle from Kashgar. Dated 25 May 1901.

The British Library's Stein collection of Chinese, Tibetan and Tangut manuscripts, Prakrit wooden tablets, and documents in Khotanese, Uyghur, Sogdian and Eastern Turkic is the result of his travels through central Asia during the 1920s and 1930s. Stein discovered manuscripts in the previously lost Tocharian languages
Tocharian languages
of the Tarim Basin at Miran and other oasis towns, and recorded numerous archaeological sites especially in Iran
and Balochistan. When Stein visited Khotan he was able to render in Persian a portion of the Shahnama after he came across a local reading the Shahnama in Turki.[9] During 1901 Stein was responsible for exposing forgeries of Islam Akhun. Stein's greatest discovery was made at the Mogao Caves
Mogao Caves
also known as "Caves of the Thousand Buddhas", near Dunhuang
in 1907. It was there that he discovered a printed copy of the Diamond Sutra, the world's oldest printed text, dating to AD 868, along with 40,000 other scrolls (all removed by gradually winning the confidence and bribing the Taoist
caretaker).[10] He stole 24 cases of manuscripts and 4 cases of paintings and relics. He was knighted for his efforts, but Chinese nationalists dubbed him a burglar and staged protests against him.[11] His discovery inspired other French, Russian, Japanese, and Chinese treasure hunters and explorers who also took their toll on the collection.[12] During his expedition of 1906–1908 while surveying in the Kunlun Mountains of western China, Stein suffered frostbite and lost several toes on his right foot. When he was resting from his extended journeys into Central Asia, he spent most of his time living in a tent in the spectacularly beautiful alpine meadow called Mohanmarg which lies at the mouth atop the Sind Valley where from he translated Rajatarangini
from sanskrit to English.[13][14] Stein was a lifelong bachelor, but was always accompanied by a dog named "Dash" (of which there were seven).[15][16]

Photograph of Aurel Stein's grave marker in Kabul

The fourth expedition to Central Asia, however, ended in failure. Stein did not publish any account, but others have written of the frustrations and rivalries between British and American interests in China, between Harvard's Fogg Museum
Fogg Museum
and the British Museum, and finally, between Paul J. Sachs
Paul J. Sachs
and Langdon Warner, the two Harvard sponsors of the expedition.[17] Stein died in Kabul
on 26 October 1943 and is buried in Kabul's British Cemetery.[18] Great Game[edit] Stein, as well as his rivals Sven Hedin, Sir Francis Younghusband
Francis Younghusband
and Nikolai Przhevalsky, were active players in the British-Russian struggle for influence in Central Asia, the so-called Great Game. Their explorations were supported by the British and Russian Empires as they filled in the remaining "blank spots" on the maps, providing valuable information and creating "spheres of influence" for archaeological exploration as they did for political influence.[19]

Fragment of carpet discovered by Aurel Stein
Aurel Stein
in a refuse pit at Loulan, Xinjiang, and attributed to 3rd–4th century. Courtesy of The British Museum.

The art objects he collected are divided between the British Museum, the British Library, the Srinagar
Museum, and the National Museum, New Delhi. Honours[edit] Stein received a number of honours during his career. In 1909, he was awarded the Founder's Medal by the Royal Geographical Society
Royal Geographical Society
'for his extensive explorations in Central Asia, and in particular his archaeological work'.[20] In 1909, he was awarded the first Campbell Memorial Gold Medal by the Royal Asiatic Society of Bombay. He was awarded a number of other Gold Medals: the Gold Medal of the Société de Géographie in 1923; the Grande Médaille d’or of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland in 1932; and the Gold Medal of the Society of Antiquaries of London
Society of Antiquaries of London
in 1935. In 1934, he was awarded the Huxley Memorial Medal of Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland.[21] In the 1910 King's Birthday Honours, he was appointed Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire
Order of the Indian Empire
(CIE) for his service as Inspector-General Of Education and Archaeological Surveyor in the North-West Frontier Province.[22] Two years later, in the 1912 King's Birthday Honours, he was promoted to Knight Commander
Knight Commander
of the Order of the Indian Empire (KCIE) for his service as Superintendent of the Archaeological Department, North-West Frontier Circle.[23] He was made an honorary Doctor of Letters
Doctor of Letters
(DLitt) by the University of Oxford in 1909. He was made an honorary Doctor of Science (DSc) by the University of Cambridge
University of Cambridge
in 1910.[21] He was made an honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) by the University of St Andrews
University of St Andrews
in 1939.[21][24] In 1919, Stein became a foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.[25] In 1921, he was elected Fellow of the British Academy (FBA).[6] Publications[edit]

1896. "Notes on the Ancient Topography of the Pīr Pantsāl Route." Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Vol. LXIV, Part I, No. 4, 1895. Calcutta 1896. 1896. Notes on Ou-k'ong's account of Kaçmir. Wien : Gerold, 1896. Published in both English and German in Vienna. 1898. Detailed Report on an Archaeological Tour with the Buner Field Force, Lahore, Punjab Government Press. 1900. Kalhaṇa's Rājataraṅgiṇī – A Chronicle of the Kings of Kaśmīr, 2 vols. London, A. Constable & Co. Ltd. Reprint, Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, 1979. 1904 Sand-Buried Ruins of Khotan, London, Hurst and Blackett, Ltd. Reprint Asian Educational Services, New Delhi, Madras, 2000 Sand-Buried Ruins of Khotan : vol.1 1905. Report of Archaeological Survey Work in the North-West Frontier Province and Baluchistan, Peshawar, Government Press, N.W. Frontier Province. 1907. Ancient Khotan: Detailed report of archaeological explorations in Chinese Turkestan, 2 vols. Clarendon Press. Oxford.[26] Ancient Khotan : vol.1 Ancient Khotan : vol.2 1912. Ruins of Desert Cathay: Personal Narrative of Explorations in Central Asia
Central Asia
and Westernmost China, 2 vols. London, Macmillan & Co. Reprint: Delhi. Low Price Publications. 1990. Ruins of Desert Cathay : vol.1 Ruins of Desert Cathay : vol.2 1918. "Routes from the Panjab to Turkestan and China Recorded by William Finch (1611)." The Geographical Journal, Vol. 51, No. 3 (Mar., 1918), pp. 172–175. 1921a. Serindia: Detailed report of explorations in Central Asia
Central Asia
and westernmost China, 5 vols. London & Oxford, Clarendon Press. Reprint: Delhi. Motilal Banarsidass. 1980.[26] Serindia : vol.1 Serindia : vol.2 Serindia : vol.3 Serindia : vol.4 Serindia : vol.5 The Thousand Buddhas : ancient Buddhist paintings from the cave-temples of Tung-huang on the western frontier of China.[26] The Thousand Buddhas : vol.1 1921b “A Chinese expedition across the Pamirs and Hindukush, A.D. 747.” Indian Antiquary 1923.[27] 1923 Memoir On Maps Of Chinese Turkistan 1923 Memoir on Maps of Chinese Turkistan and Kansu : vol.1 1928. Innermost Asia: Detailed Report of Explorations in Central Asia, Kan-su and Eastern Iran, 5 vols. Oxford, Clarendon Press. Reprint: New Delhi. Cosmo Publications. 1981.[26] Innermost Asia : vol.1 Innermost Asia : vol.2 Innermost Asia : vol.3 Innermost Asia : vol.4 1929. On Alexander's Track to the Indus: Personal Narrative of Explorations on the North-West Frontier of India. London, Macmillan & Co. Reprint: New York, Benjamin Blom, 1972. 1932 On Ancient Central Asian Tracks: Brief Narrative of Three Expeditions in Innermost Asia and Northwestern China. Reprinted with Introduction by Jeannette Mirsky. Book Faith India, Delhi. 1999. 1933 On Ancient Central-Asian Tracks : vol.1 1937 Archaeological Reconnaissances in North-Western India
and South-Eastern Īrān : vol.1 1940 Old Routes of Western Iran: Narrative of an Archaeological Journey Carried out and Recorded, MacMillan and co., limited. St. Martin's Street, London. 1944. "Archaeological Notes from the Hindukush Region". J.R.A.S., pp. 1–24 + fold-out.

A more detailed list of Stein's publications is available in Handbook to the Stein Collections in the UK,[8] pp. 49–61. See also[edit]

Three hares Sándor Kőrösi Csoma Ármin Vámbéry


^ Gray, Basil (19 February 1944). "Obituary, Sir Aurel Stein, K.C.I.E., F.B.A". Nature. 153 (3877): 216–217. doi:10.1038/153216a0.  ^ Mirsky (1977), p. 3-4. ^ Colquhoun, A. R., & Colquhoun, E. M. C. (1914). The whirlpool of Europe, Austria- Hungary
and the Habsburgs. New York: Dodd, Mead. ^ Mirsky (1977), p. 5-6. ^ Annabel Walker. Stein, Sir (Marc) Aurel (1862–1943), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2004. Retrieved 26 November 2015. ^ a b "STEIN, Sir Aurel (26/11/1862-26/10/1943)". British Academy Fellows. British Academy. Archived from the original on 1 July 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2014.  ^ The New Encyclopædia Britannica. 15th Edition. (1977). Vol. IX, p. 547. ^ a b Wang, Helen (ed.); Perkins, John (ed.) (2008). Handbook to the Collections of Sir Aurel Stein
Aurel Stein
in the UK (PDF). British Museum. pp. 42–44. ISBN 978 086159 9776. ISSN 1747-3640. Retrieved 4 July 2009. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link) ^ Jeannette Mirsky
Jeannette Mirsky
(1 October 1998). Sir Aurel Stein: Archaeological Explorer. University of Chicago Press. pp. 146–. ISBN 978-0-226-53177-9.  ^ Deuel, Leo. 1970. Testaments of Time, p. 459. Baltimore, Pelican Books. Orig. publ. Knopf, NY, 1965; "Collecting Aurel Stein", The Caxtonian Vol. XIX, No. 2, November 2011. ^ Jacobs, Justin (2010) "Confronting Indiana Jones: Chinese Nationalism, Historical Imperialism, and the Criminalization of Aurel Stein and the Raiders of Dunhuang, 1899–1944", pp. 65–90 in China on the Margins. Sherman Cochran and Paul G. Pickowicz (eds.). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. ^ Larmer, Brook (June 2010) "Caves of Faith", pp. 136–138, National Geographic Magazine. ^ "JKMHC trekkers trek Mohanmarg". dailykashmirimages.com. Archived from the original on 25 May 2014. Retrieved 2014-05-25.  ^ "The illustrated Rajatarangini". siraurelstein.org. Retrieved 2014-05-25.  ^ IDP Newsletter Issue No. 18. Idp.bl.uk. Retrieved on 2014-06-06. ^ Dash The Dog. Idp.bl.uk. Retrieved on 2014-06-06. ^ Brysac, Shareen Blair (November–December 1997). "Last of the "Foreign Devils"". Archaeology. 50 (6).  ^ North, Andrew. (2012-06-09) Afghanistan's 'graveyard of foreigners'. Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved on 2014-06-06. ^ Meyer & Brysac (1999), pp. 367-368. ^ "Gold Medal Recipients" (PDF). Medals and Awards. Royal Geographical Society. Archived from the original (pdf) on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 26 November 2014.  ^ a b c Strong, Sarah; Wang, Helen. "Sir Aurel Stein's Medals at the Royal Geographical Society" (pdf). British Museum. Retrieved 26 November 2014.  ^ "No. 28388". The London Gazette
The London Gazette
(Supplement to the London Gazette Extraordinary). 23 June 1910. p. 4478.  ^ "No. 28617". The London Gazette
The London Gazette
(Supplement). 23 June 1910. p. 4300.  ^ "STEIN, Sir Aurel". Who Was Who. A & C Black. April 2014. Retrieved 26 November 2014.  ^ "M.A. Stein (1862 - 1943)". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 25 January 2016.  ^ a b c d M. A. Stein – Digital Archive of Toyo Bunko Rare Books at dsr.nii.ac.jp ^ http://www.pears2.lib.ohio-state.edu/FULLTEXT/TR-ENG/aurel.htm[permanent dead link]

References and further reading[edit]

Baumer, Christoph. 2000. Southern Silk Road: In the Footsteps of Sir Aurel Stein
Aurel Stein
and Sven Hedin. White Orchid Books. Bangkok. Brysac, Shareen. "Sir Aurel Stein’s Fourth ‘American’ Expedition." Archeology Archive Viewed December 21, 2014. Deuel, Leo. 1965. Testaments of Time; the Search for Lost Manuscripts and Records. Knopf, New York, 1965. paperback reprint: Pelican, Baltimore, 1970. Falconer, John et al. 2002. Catalogue of the Collections of Sir Aurel Stein in the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Budapest, LHAS and British Museum. ISBN 963-7451-11-0. Falconer, John et al. 2007. "Supplement to the Catalogue of the Collections of Sir Aurel Stein
Aurel Stein
in the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Budapest, LHAS. ISBN 978-963-508-545-3. Hansen, Valerie. 2012. The Silk Road: A New History, Oxford University Press ISBN 978-0195159318. Hopkirk, Peter. 1980. Foreign Devils On The Silk Road. John Murray (Publishers). Paperback edition, University of Massachusetts Press 1984. ISBN 0-87023-435-8. Meyer, Karl E.; Brysac, Shareen Blair (1999). Tournament of Shadows: The Great Game
Great Game
and the Race for Empire in Central Asia. Counterpoint. ISBN 9781582430287.  Mirsky, Jeannette (1977), Sir Aurel Stein: Archaeological Explorer, Paperback edition, 1998, Chicago: University of Chicago Press  Morgan, Joyce; Walters, Conrad, Journeys on the Silk Road: a desert explorer, Buddha’s secret library, and the unearthing of the world’s oldest printed book, Picador Australia, 2011, ISBN 9781405040419. Pandita, S.N., Aurel Stein
Aurel Stein
in Kashmir: Sanskrit
of Mohand Marg. Om Publications, 2004. ISBN 978-8186867839. Walker, Annabel. 1999. Aurel Stein: Pioneer of the Silk Road. University of Washington Press. ISBN 0-295-97730-2. Wang, Helen (ed.). 1999. Handbook to the Stein Collections in the UK. British Museum
British Museum
Occasional Paper 129. ISBN 0-86159-129-1, fully available online. Wang, Helen (ed.). 2002. Sir Aurel Stein
Aurel Stein
in The Times. London, Saffron Books. ISBN 1-872843-29-8. Wang, Helen (ed.). 2004. Sir Aurel Stein. Proceedings of the British Museum Study Day, 2002. British Museum
British Museum
Occasional Paper 142. ISBN 0-86159-142-9.[1] Wang, Helen (ed.). 2012. Sir Aurel Stein, Colleagues and Collections, British Museum
British Museum
Research Publication 184, ISBN 978-086159-1848. (This an online publication only) fully available online Wang, Helen and Perkins, John (eds). 2008. Handbook to the Collections of Sir Aurel Stein
Aurel Stein
in the UK. British Museum
British Museum
Research Publication 129 (updated and expanded edition of Handbook to the Stein Collections in the UK, 1999). ISBN 978-086159-9776. Wang Jiqing, Photographs in the British Library
British Library
of Documents and Manuscripts from Sir Aurel Stein's Fourth Central Asian Expedition.[1] Whitfield, Susan. 2004. Aurel Stein
Aurel Stein
On The Silk Road. Serindia Publications. ISBN 1-932476-11-3; also: The British Museum
The British Museum
Press, London. ISBN 0-7141-2416-8.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Aurel Stein.

Central Asian Antiquities at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. Aurel Stein
Aurel Stein
in Kashmir, Kashmir Bhawan Center, Luton, United Kingdom. The International Dunhuang
Project Website of the project to conserve, catalogue, digitise and research the artifacts found in the Dunhuang Caves. Digital Archive of Toyo Bunko Rare Books Digital versions of books by Marc Aurel Stein. https://web.archive.org/web/20011107203059/http://ds.dial.pipex.com/town/avenue/xha71/Stein.htm A page about Marc Aurel Stein
Aurel Stein
in Hungarian Aurel Stein
Aurel Stein
and the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas. An exhibition of his archive photos in the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 2007. Life of Aurel Stein. Web catalog in four languages. A Hong Kong exhibition of his archive photos and documents conserved in the Oriental Collection of the LHAS, 2008. Preliminary articles on the web publication: 1 and 2 British Museum
British Museum
– Sir Aurel Stein
Aurel Stein
at www.britishmuseum.org Sir Aurel Stein, proceedings of the British Museum
British Museum
study day, 23 March 2002 (online publication) Expedition map "The Stein Collection". Asia. Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 14 September 2010.  Works by or about Aurel Stein
Aurel Stein
at Internet Archive  "Stein, Mark Aurel". New International Encyclopedia. 1905.   "Stein, Mark Aurel". Encyclopedia Americana. 1920.  Aurel Stein
Aurel Stein
in Encyclopaedia Iranica

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 88967071 LCCN: n82045000 ISNI: 0000 0001 1030 732X GND: 118942905 SELIBR: 235489 SUDOC: 030688132 BNF: cb12130251p (data) NLA: 36557654 NDL: 00457548 BNE: XX1446135 SNAC: w69k4xr1 PIC: 296366

^ http://www.bl.uk/eblj/1998articles/pdf/