Aurel Stein

Aurel Stein books and biography


Marc Aurel Stein

Stein in Central Asia, (February 1929)
Stein in Central Asia, (February 1929)

Sir Marc Aurel Stein, Stein Márk Aurél in Hungarian (26 November 1862 – 26 October 1943), born in Budapest, was a Hungarian archaeologist of Jewish descent who converted to Christianity and became a British citizen. He was also a professor at various Indian universities. Stein was inspired by Sven Hedin's work, Through Asia.

Stein took part in three successful expeditions and one failed expedition in Central Asia.

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 of the Tarim Basin at Marin and other oasis towns, and recorded numerous archaeological sites especially in Iran and Balochistan.

Stein's greatest discovery was made at the Mogao Caves also known as "Caves of the Thousand Buddhas", near Dunhuang (Tun Huang). It was there that he discovered the Diamond Sutra, the world's oldest dated printed text, along with 40,000 other scrolls (all removed by gradually winning the confidence of the Buddhist caretaker). In 1901 Stein was responsible for exposing forgeries of Islam Akhun. During his expedition of 1906–1908 while surveying in the Kunlun mountain range in 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 Gulmarg (or 'Meadow of Roses'). Except for his latest dog (which was always called "Dash"), he lived alone here. He died and is buried in Kabul.

The art objects he collected are divided between the British Museum, the British Library, the Srinagar Museum, and the National Museum, New Delhi. His collection is important in the study of the history of Central Asia and the art and literature of Buddhism.


Photograph of Aurel Stein, with his dog and research team, in the Tarim Basin.
Photograph of Aurel Stein, with his dog and research team, in the Tarim Basin.
  • Digital Archive of Marc Aurel Stein See list of Books.
  • Stein, Aurel M. 1898. Detailed Report on an Archaeological Tour with the Buner Field Force, Lahore, Punjab Government Press.
  • Stein, Aurel M. 1900. Kalhaṇa's Rājataraṅgiṇī – A Chronicle of the Kings of Kaśmīr, 2 vols. London, A. Constable & Co. Ltd. Reprint, Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, 1979.
  • Stein, Aurel M. 1905. Report of Archaeological Survey Work in the North-West Frontier Province and Baluchistan, Peshawar, Government Press, N.W. Frontier Province.
  • Stein, Aurel M. 1907. Ancient Khotan: Detailed report of archaeological explorations in Chinese Turkestan, 2 vols. Clarendon Press. Oxford. [1]
  • Stein, Aurel M. 1912. Ruins of Desert Cathay: Personal Narrative of Explorations in Central Asia and Westernmost China, 2 vols. London, Macmillan & Co. Reprint: Delhi. Low Price Publications. 1990.
  • Stein, Aurel M. 1921a. Serindia: Detailed report of explorations in Central Asia and westernmost China, 5 vols. London & Oxford, Clarendon Press. Reprint: Delhi. Motilal Banarsidass. 1980. [2]
  • Stein, Aurel M. The Thousand Buddhas : ancient Buddhist paintings from the cave-temples of Tung-huang on the western frontier of China. [3]
  • Stein Aurel M. 1921b “A Chinese expedition across the Pamirs and Hindukush, A.D. 747.” Indian Antiquary 1923.[4]
  • Stein Aurel M. 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. [5]
  • Stein Aurel M. 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.
  • Stein Aurel M. 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.
  • Stein Aurel M. 1940 Old Routes of Western Iran: Narrative of an Archaeological Journey Carried out and Recorded, MacMillan and co., limited. St. Martin's Street, London.
  • Stein Aurel M. 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 availble in "Sir Aurel Stein: A Bibliography" in Helen Wang (ed.) Handbook to the Stein Collections in the UK, pp.49-61.

Further reading

  • Baumer, Christoph. 2000. Southern Silk Road: In the Footsteps of Sir Aurel Stein and Sven Hedin. White Orchid Books. Bangkok.
  • 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 in the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Budapest, LHAS. ISBN 963-508-545-3.
  • Hopkirk, Peter. 1980. Foreign Devils On The Silk Road. John Murray (Publishers). Paperback edition, University of Massachusetts Press 1984. ISBN 0-87023-435-8.
  • Mirsky, Jeannette. 1977. Sir Aurel Stein: Archaeological Explorer. Chicago, University of Chicago Press. Paperback edition, 1998.
  • 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 Occasional Paper 129. ISBN 0-86159-129-1.
  • Wang, Helen (ed.). 2002. Sir 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 Occasional Paper 142. ISBN 0-86159-142-9.
  • Whitfield, Susan. 2004. Aurel Stein On The Silk Road. Serindia Publications. ISBN 1-932476-11-3.

This article might use material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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