They serve as a reminder that we are all ‘migrants’ no matter how well established we may be in a region or country, and that claims to that land by anyone ‘ethnic’ group are ultimately futile. “From the evidence available,” said Professor Mair in a 2005 interview with the Washington Post, “we have found that during the first 1000 years after the Loulan beauty, the only settlers in the Tarim Basin were Caucasoid.” Following this period, the ethnic mix in the basin seems to have become more diverse. Total mummies found there were five. (1996). Some of the peoples of the Western Regions were described in Chinese sources as having full beards, red or blond hair, deep-set blue or green eyes and high noses. It was in close proximity to many of the ancient civilizations—to the Northwest is the Amu Darya basin, to the southwest the Afghanistan mountain passes lead to Iran and India, to the east is China, and even to the north ancient towns such as Almaty can be found. [43], The Beauty of Loulan is wearing clothing made of wool and fur. ", The Beauty of Loulan (also referred to as the Loulan Beauty) is the most famous of the Tarim mummies, along with the Cherchen Man. The Taklamakan Desert’s hot dry sand and arid land provides excellent conditions for mummification. The oldest mummies are from 2000 BC. Textile expert Elizabeth Wayland Barber, who examined the tartan-style cloth, discusses similarities between it and fragments recovered from salt mines associated with the Hallstatt culture. [43], The Beauty of Loulan's hair colour has been described as auburn. [17], Of the paternal lines of male remains surveyed nearly all – 11 out of 12, or around 92% – belonged to Y-DNA haplogroup R1a1, which are now most common in West Eurasia; the other belonged to the exceptionally rare paragroup K* (M9). Mallory and Mair associate this later (700 BCE–200 CE) Caucasian physical type with the populations who introduced the Iranian Saka language to the western part of the Tarim basin. Learn why these non-Chinese mummies -- some more than 4,000 years old -- are buried in the Chinese Takla Makan Desert and how they were preserved so well. As early as the mid-first millennium BCE the Yuezhi engaged in the jade trade, of which the major consumers were the rulers of agricultural China. Allen, T. B. [5], Western Regions (Hsi-yu; Chinese: 西域; pinyin: Xīyù; Wade–Giles: Hsi1-yü4) is the historical name in China, between the 3rd century BCE and 8th century CE for regions west of Yumen Pass, including the Tarim and Central Asia.[27]. "[1], Coordinates: 40°20′11″N 88°40′21″E / 40.336453°N 88.672422°E / 40.336453; 88.672422, A series of mummies discovered in the Tarim Basin, Arguments for the occurrence of cultural transmission from West to East. While stressing that the argument as to whether bronze technology travelled from China to the West or that "the earliest bronze technology in China was stimulated by contacts with western steppe cultures", is far from settled in scholarly circles, they suggest that the evidence so far favours the latter scenario. The Beauty of Loulan has become a figurehead of the Uyghur separatist movement in Xinjiang. The Taklamakan Mummies Above, a sample of one Taklamakan tartan pattern In the 80's several mummies were found in a desert region of People's Republic of China, the Tarim Basin, Xinjiang, dating from 1900 BC to 200 AD. “Some of the important ones did come from eastern Europe, but there were others from different places that lay to the northwest, west, and southwest. [19], The geographic location of this admixing is unknown, although south Siberia is likely. (15/3/2010). The New York Times. The body and facial forms associated with Turks and Mongols began to appear in the Tarim cemeteries only in the first millennium BCE, fifteen hundred years after this woman lived. Taklamakan Desert . Yale University Press, 1982. [40] Zhang Qian clearly identified Parthia as an advanced urban civilization that farmed grain and grapes and manufactured silver coins and leather goods. The mummies are essential as a source of information on early human migratory patterns according to Victor Mair, Professor of Chinese Language and Literature at the University of Pennsylvania and leader of several expeditions to study the mummies. Bronze metallurgy in China originated in what is referred to as the Erlitou (Wade–Giles: Erh-li-t'ou) period, which some historians argue places it within the range of dates controlled by the Shang dynasty. Sounds like Celts or very early Viking nomads, doesn't it? They are also at the center of another ongoing dispute: Turkish speaking Uighurs, who have lived in the Tarim Basin since 842 AD, are using the mummies as justification for independence from the Chinese state. Caucasians Preceded East Asians in Basin. At the beginning of the 20th century, European explorers such as Sven Hedin, Albert von Le Coq and Sir Aurel Stein all recounted their discoveries of desiccated bodies in their search for antiquities in Central Asia. Reference to the Yuezhi name in Guanzi was made around 7th century BCE by the Chinese economist Guan Zhong, though the book is generally considered to be a forgery of later generations. [13], A 2008 study by Jilin University showed that the Yuansha population has relatively close relationships with the modern populations of South Central Asia and Indus Valley, as well as with the ancient population of Chawuhu. There is evidence of tattooing on mummies found in the Taklamakan Desert in China dating from 1,200 BC. [30]:115–127 The attributed author, Guan Zhong, described the Yuzhi 禺氏, or Niuzhi 牛氏, as a people from the north-west who supplied jade to the Chinese from the nearby mountains of Yuzhi 禺氏 at Gansu. (1999). The Afanasevo culture (c. 3500–2500 BCE) displays cultural and genetic connections with the Indo-European-associated cultures of the Eurasian Steppe yet predates the specifically Indo-Iranian-associated Andronovo culture (c. 2000–900 BCE) enough to isolate the Tocharian languages from Indo-Iranian linguistic innovations like satemization.[25]. [16], Chinese historian Ji Xianlin says China "supported and admired" research by foreign experts into the mummies. Genetic analyses of the mummies showed that the maternal lineages of the Xiaohe people originated from both East Asia and West Eurasia, whereas the paternal lineages all originated from West Eurasia. Because craniometry can produce results which make no sense at all (e.g. The degree of differentiation between the language known to modern scholars as Tocharian A (or by the endonym Ārśi-käntwa; "tongue of Ārśi") and Tocharian B (Kuśiññe; [adjective] "of Kucha, Kuchean"), as well as the less-well attested Tocharian C (which is associated with the city-state of Krorän, also known as Loulan), and the absence of evidence for these beyond the Tarim, tends to indicate that a common, proto-Tocharian language existed in the Tarim during the second half of the 1st Millennium BCE. [2], Notable mummies are the tall, red-haired "Chärchän man" or the "Ur-David" (1000 BCE); his son (1000 BCE), a small 1-year-old baby with brown hair protruding from under a red and blue felt cap, with two stones positioned over its eyes; the "Hami Mummy" (c. 1400–800 BCE), a "red-headed beauty" found in Qizilchoqa; and the "Witches of Subeshi" (4th or 3rd century BCE), who wore 2-foot-long (0.61 m) black felt conical hats with a flat brim. Chärchän man wore a red twill tunic and tartan leggings. But these perverse acts will not succeed. Takla Makan Desert, Chinese (Pinyin) Taklimakan Shamo or (Wade-Giles romanization) T’a-k’o-la-ma-kan Sha-mo, great desert of Central Asia and one of the largest sandy deserts in the world. In an interview with the author, Professor Mair indicated: “I consider them very important for understanding early human migration because the Tarim Basin was one of the last places on earth to be populated and they definitely show east-west admixture across Eurasia in pre-modern times.” Could the migratory patterns of the mummies contain useful lessons for the modern inhabitants of the Tarim Basin, and other areas suffering from ethnic discord? The earliest bronze artifacts in China are found at the Majiayao culture site (between 3100 and 2700 BC),[33][34] and it is from this location and time period that Chinese Bronze Age spread. The scientists extracted enough material to suggest the Tarim Basin was continually inhabited from 2000 BCE to 300 BCE and preliminary results indicate the people, rather than having a single origin, originated from Europe, Mesopotamia, Indus Valley and other regions yet to be determined. Her cause of death is likely due to lung failure from ingesting a large amount of sand, charcoal, and dust. Her hood is made of felt and has a feather in it. [43] According to Elizabeth Barber, she probably died in the winter because of her provisions against the cold. The Takla Makan mummies provide controversial evidence that China’s northwestern Xinjiang province was once settled by early Europeans. Two thousand years old, the Yingpan man died at around thirty years of age and was buried in sumptuous style. They had long reddish-blond hair, European features and didn't appear to be the ancestors of modern-day Chinese people. The best preserved, and most comparatively recent mummy in the Tarim Basin was discovered in the Yingpan region in 1995, in what was once a caravan settlement along the ancient trade route. In the late 1980’s, several well-preserved mummies were discovered in the Taklamakan desert. Merchant caravans on the Silk Road would stop for relief at the thriving oasis towns. He believed to have discerned Greek influences in some of the kingdoms. early Indo-Europeans. Clearly, as time passed, the Tarim Basin became a cultural mixing pot. The Tarim Basin is one of the most remote (far from oceans and seas along whose littorals early humans travelled) and last populated places on Earth. The name may be an Uyghur borrowing of the Arabic tark, "to leave alone/out/behind, relinquish, abandon" + makan, "place". "[20] Due to the "fear of fuelling separatist currents", the Xinjiang museum, regardless of dating, displays all their mummies, both Tarim and Han, together. The Chinese official Zhang Qian, who visited Bactria and Sogdiana in 126 BCE, made the first known Chinese report on many regions west of China. A. Today there has been excavated hundreds of mummies in the Taklamakan Desert. But unlike the earliest mummies, his grave goods and clothing suggest a southern rather than northern European origin. [4] Mallory and Mair also note that: "Prior to c. 2000 BC, finds of metal artifacts in China are exceedingly few, simple and, puzzlingly, already made of alloyed copper (and hence questionable)." Mummies of the Taklamakan 53MIN For ten years, a team of French and Chinese archeologists has been excavating the Taklamakan desert to learn more about the … They were found in the Taklamakan desert in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang in whose language the word "Taklamakan" means "you go in and never come out". Scholars have traditionally scoffed at these accounts, but it now seems that they may be accurate. The second wave of incomers followed from Iran. According to the researchers, these mummies are ancient Caledonia tribe in central Scotland and was buried in that place for 3,000 years. In her book, "The Mummies of Urumchi", Elizabeth Wayland Barber told about this groundbreaking discovery. Starting with the Han Dynasty, the Chinese sporadically extended their control to the oasis cities of the Taklamakan Desert in order to control the important silk route trade across Central Asia. When news of such discoveries were reported back in the West, it ignited a wide interest in the mysteries of the East, which even today remain largely beyond the reach of most tourists. It covers an area of 270,000 km2 of the … The perfectly well-preserved mummies are estimated to be at least 3000 years-old. The Tarim Basin was not always so barren, which is one explanation for its settlement. Bronze Age mummies in China’s Taklamakan Desert were buried with the earliest known pieces of cheese affixed to their necks and chests. 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