What Was Turpan Called in Ancient Times?

Turpan is a city located in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. It is known for its unique geography, history, and culture.

But have you ever wondered what Turpan was called in ancient times? In this article, we will explore the different names that Turpan has been known by throughout history.


In ancient times, Turpan was known as Jushi. The name Jushi was first mentioned in Chinese historical records during the Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE).

The people who lived in Jushi were also known as Jushi people. They were an Indo-European speaking people who had their own unique culture and civilization.


During the Tang dynasty (618 CE – 907 CE), Jushi was renamed Gaochang. Gaochang means “high fort” or “tall city” in Chinese. The name refers to the city’s location on a raised platform surrounded by desert.

Gaochang became an important center of trade and commerce along the Silk Road during this time, connecting China with Central Asia and Europe. The city prospered under Tang rule, but declined after the Tang dynasty fell.


In the 10th century CE, Gaochang was conquered by the Karakhanids, a Turkic Muslim dynasty that ruled over Central Asia. They renamed the city Khocho, meaning “blue city” in Turkic.

Under Karakhanid rule, Khocho became an important center of Islamic culture and scholarship. Many famous scholars and poets lived in Khocho during this time.


In the early 20th century CE, Khocho was renamed Turfan by Western explorers and scholars. The name Turfan is derived from the Uyghur language, which is spoken by the majority of the population in the region.

Turfan has since become the most commonly used name for the city in Western literature and scholarship. It is also the name used by the Chinese government.


Turpan, formerly known as Jushi, Gaochang, and Khocho, has a rich and varied history that reflects its position as a cultural crossroads along the Silk Road. The different names that Turpan has been known by throughout history highlight its importance as a center of trade, commerce, and culture. Understanding these different names can help us better appreciate Turpan’s unique history and heritage.