Prince Yuri Lubovedsky

During one of these expeditions, in the year 1898, he died from the bite of a wild camel in the Gobi Desert. I will describe the occurrence in as much detail as possible, because not only was the death of Soloviev very strange, but our method of crossing the desert was unprecedented and in itself highly instructive.

I shall begin the description from the time when, having travelled with great difficulty from Tashkent up the course of the river Sharakshan and over several mountain passes, we arrived at F, a very small place on the edge of the Gobi Desert.

We decided before beginning our proposed crossing of the desert to rest at this village for several weeks. And while staying there we, sometimes as a group, sometimes individually, met various local inhabitants, who in answer to our questions told us all sorts of beliefs connected with the Gobi Desert.

What we chiefly heard in these conversations was that, under the sands of the present-day desert, villages and even entire cities lay buried, and that these sands also covered many treasures and other riches of the ancient peoples who had inhabited this once flourishing region. It was said that information about the location of these riches was known to certain men living in the neighbouring villages and was handed down from father to son under vows of secrecy. The violation of these vows, as many had already learned, entailed a punishment whose severity depended upon the importance of the secret betrayed.

Repeated mention was made of a certain region of the Gobi Desert where, it seemed, it was definitely known to many that a great city lay buried; and in this connection there were a number of suspicious indications, not contradictory to each other, which seriously interested many of us, particularly Professor Skridlov, the archaeologist, who was among the members of our expedition.