Sir Marc-Aurel Stein's Expeditions
1862 – 1943
Sir Marc-Aurel Stein
The Budapest-born Stein studied Sanskrit, Old Persian, Indology and philology at the universities of Vienna, Leipzig and Tübingen, and map-making as part of his military service in Budapest, before setting out for a career in India. His formal positions from 1888 onwards were as registrar of Punjab University and principal of the Oriental College, Lahore and principal of the Calcutta Madrasah. But his real passion was the exploration of Central Asia, China, India and the Middle East. Stein carried out three expeditions (the fourth was aborted) to the western regions of China between 1900 and 1916, where he not only conducted archaeological excavations, but also geographical and ethnographical surveys and photographing. Today, he is especially (in)famous for 'discovering' (and purchasing) the library in a cave at the Mogao Grottoes, Dunhuang. Stein adopted British nationality in 1904 and he was knighted for his contribution to Central Asian studies. In his 80s, Stein embarked on his long-awaited expedition to Afghanistan, but died in Kabul, where his grave still can be visited
Being an indefatigable scholar, he published extensively and
volumenously on his explorations, such as own personal narratives and
extensive scholarly reports. Based on his diaries, he published
Sand-buried Ruins of Khotan (1903) and Ruins of Desert
Cathay (1912). Then, after extensive study and cataloguing of the
finds, he would publish a more scholarly 'scientific report' which
also included work by specialists in different disciplines. These are
well-known titles: Ancient Khotan (1907), Serindia
(1921) and Innermost Asia
(1928), all include an exhaustive array of photographs, plates, and
From Victoria & Albert Museum London
This reference also contains extensive references on Stein materials in UK Museums including photographs.
Inst. Informatics, Toyobunko (Japan) Facsimile Editions. My major
source of information:
Collection of Stein's expedition maps as Google-Earth overlays (inaccurate but still very useful!)
Sand-buried Ruins of Khotan (1 vol) (1903)
Ancient Khotan (2 vol) description of first expedition (1907)
The Ruins of Desert Cathay (2 vols) narrative of first expeditions (1912)
Serindia (5 vols) Scientific Records of the second expeditions (1921)
Innermost Asia (4 vols) Extended Research Records of second Expedition (1928)
On Ancient Central Asian Tracts (1 vol) a short narrative covering all expeditions (1933)
The collectons of Stein's research materials (50 000 manuscripts,
paintings, and photographs!) in the British
Museum can only be viewed by special permission in person at
the museum. Most are not available online.
The same holds true of the possessions of the National Museum of India in New Dehli.
The Hungarian Academy of Sciences has a limited online collection of Stein's photographs, some of which are not in the Toyobunko exhibits.