This is a study of human settlements as it is reflected in the permanence,and the impermanence for that matter, of architectural and planning ele-ments used over time, place, and religious and political upheavals. The spaclfic setting of this study is the Turfan Oasis in the Xinxiang AutonomousRegion of the People's Republic of China. The two settlements to be de-scribed and discussed are the ancient cities of idikut-Schari and Tar-Khoto,both located on the northern branch of the Silk Road.Idikut-Schari was established during the 2nd Century BC. It played an im-portant role In the establishment of the trade routes and urbanization of theUygur Turks during the last millennium. Var-Khoto, which rapidly grew toa size of 10,000 Inhabitants during the 9th and 10th Centuries, was esta-blished as a military outpost soon after Idikut-Schari. Both cities, devastat-ed by the armies of Cengiz Khan in the 12th Century, never recovered theirformer glory and were abandoned by the 16th Century.The two cities were bully entirely of rammed earth, adobe brick, archedopenings, vaulted and domed rooms. Forms such as, axis, courtyard, hier-archy were used as timeless principles of building in the Asian vernacular.The set of architectural and planning features discussed include construc-tion, courtyard house type, stupa, building compound and axial organization,These feqtures are in turn related to traditions found in other places andtimes, namely in China and in Asia Minor.