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At the time there was great scientific rivalry between the French, British, Germans, Russians and Japanese in the area. Pelliot, accompanied by Nouette as official photographer and Louis Vaillant as expedition doctor, set out from St Petersburg on 17 June 1906 and proceeded via Bokhara, Kashgar, Ürümqi and Turfan, before eventually reaching Peking in the summer of 1909.
In March 1908 the expedition visited Dunhuang. The numerous cave manuscripts that were purchased and subsequently studied by Pelliot are now kept in the National Library of France, the Bibliothèque nationale.
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