Liqian Ancient Town in Jinchang City

Liqian Ancient Town

Liqian (骊靬), currently known as Zhelaizhai (者來寨), is a small rural town in the Gansu province on the edge of the Gobi Desert. Liqian is located at more than 300 km from Lanzhou, the capital, and more than 60 km from the closest city, which is called Jinchang (金昌市). This lost town in western China became famous thanks to a theory formulated in the 40’s by the Chinese history professor at the University of Oxford, Homer H. Dubs, who attributed a Roman origin to it.

Introduction of Liqian Ancient Town


Liqian (骊靬), currently known as Zhelaizhai (者來寨), is a small rural town in the Gansu province on the edge of the Gobi Desert.

Zhelaizhai (simplified Chinese: 者来寨; traditional Chinese: 者來寨; pinyin: Zhěláizhài) is a village on the edge of the Gobi desert in Gansu province, China. The area was renamed after Liqian, an ancient county, and is located in Jiaojiazhuang township, Yongchang County. Some of the modern-day residents of Zhelaizhai, now known as Liqian village, have been suspected to be descendants of a group Roman soldiers that were never accounted for after being captured in the Battle of Carrhae.

Brief Introduction of Liqian History

Built in 36 BC, Liqian Ancient City in Yongchang County, Jinchang City of Gansu Province served as a military fortress on the ancient Silk Road. Years of wind erosion and man-made sabotage ruined the old settlement, a place designated for displaced Roman soldiers during the Western Han Dynasty (202BC-9AD).


Dubs’ theory is based on, aside from both Chinese and Roman chronicles, the particular physiognomy of some of the inhabitants of this small town, who at times present Caucasian characteristics such as green eyes, pointed noses, raised superciliary arches or blonde hair (you can do a Google search for “Liqian people” to see more examples). In addition, Dubs believed that the name “Liqian” could be the transliteration in Chinese of “legio” (legion). Liqian was precisely the name that the Chinese used in this era to designate the unknown Romans who bought many of their luxury products.

In addition, Chinese archeologists tried to back up Dubs’ theory, after finding around one hundred skeletons, some of which had heights greater than 1.80 which dated to over 2,000 years ago.

How to get to Lianqian Ancient City from Jinchang

There is no airport and railway station in Jinchang, the only way to reach there is by bus. Jinchang Bus Station in Xinhua Road (East) offers buses to Lanzhou, Wuwei, Jiayuguan and many other places within the city or neighboring cities. 

From downtown Jinchang, take a bus near Zijin Square to Hexibu Bus Station at the fare of CNY 5. Upon arrival, take a mini bus to Yongchang County at the fare of CNY 5. Then take a mini bus to Liqian Ancient City. The bus fare is CNY 4.

Nearby Attractions

  • Kangle Grassland
  • Zhangye National Wetland Park
  • Yongchang Bell Drum Tower
  • Shengrong Temole

More Attractions in Guansu

Edited by  Lynette Fu/付云锐