When these ancient people buried their dead, the hot climate and rocky soil helped to keep the deceased’s body preserved, though it should have decomposed hundreds of years ago. The supplying of Tarim Basin jade to China from ancient times is well established, according to Liu (2001): "It is well known that ancient Chinese rulers had a strong attachment to jade. Clearly, as time passed, the Tarim Basin became a cultural mixing pot. ", The Beauty of Loulan (also referred to as the Loulan Beauty) is the most famous of the Tarim mummies, along with the Cherchen Man. There is evidence of tattooing on mummies found in the Taklamakan Desert in China dating from 1,200 BC. early Indo-Europeans. W. W. Norton and Company, Inc. 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. They claim the mummies show that Xinjiang is ethnically non-Chinese and so should be awarded sovereignty. , Chinese historian Ji Xianlin says China "supported and admired" research by foreign experts into the mummies. He believed to have discerned Greek influences in some of the kingdoms. The earliest bronze artifacts in China are found at the Majiayao culture site (between 3100 and 2700 BC), and it is from this location and time period that Chinese Bronze Age spread. The mummy was discovered near Lop Nur. Archaeologists have therefore postulated that they may have been citizens of an ancient civilization in the crossroads between China and Europe. , The cemetery at Yanbulaq contained 29 mummies which date from 1100–500 BCE, 21 of which are Mongoloid—the earliest Mongoloid mummies found in the Tarim Basin—and eight of which are of the same Caucasian physical type found at Qäwrighul. 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 is far from any ocean, and so hot, dry, and cold, by turns, with shifting sand dunes covering 85% of the surface, propelled by northerly winds, and sandstorms. Allen, T. B. Mummy dearest: questions of identity in modern and ancient Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Yale University Press, 1982. Since that was significantly later than the discovery of bronze in Mesopotamia, bronze technology could have been imported, rather than being discovered independently in China.  Zhang Qian equated Parthia's level of advancement to the cultures of Dayuan in Ferghana and Daxia in Bactria. East Asian peoples only began showing up in the eastern portions of the Tarim Basin about 3,000 years ago, Mair said, while the Uighur peoples arrived after the collapse of the Orkon Uighur Kingdom, largely based in modern day Mongolia, around the year 842.  The Beauty of Loulan has been dated back to approximately 1800 BCE. 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. A. The Tarim mummies are a series of mummies discovered in the Tarim Basin in present-day Xinjiang, China, which date from 1800 BC to the first centuries BC. There is evidence of tattooing on mummies found in the Taklamakan Desert in China dating from 1,200 BC. Chang, K. C.: "Studies of Shang Archaeology", pp. ", 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. But these perverse acts will not succeed. 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. , Han Kangxin, who examined the skulls of 302 mummies, found the closest relatives of the earlier Tarim Basin population in the populations of the Afanasevo culture situated immediately north of the Tarim Basin and the Andronovo culture that spanned Kazakhstan and reached southwards into West Central Asia and the Altai. (1996). The Beauty of Loulan has become a figurehead of the Uyghur separatist movement in Xinjiang. Their costumes, and especially textiles, may indicate a common origin with Indo-European neolithic clothing techniques or a common low-level textile technology. Wells was able to extract undegraded DNA from the internal tissues. Mair, V. H. The Mummies of East Central Asia. ", "Tracking Genes Across the Globe: A review of, Stratification in the peopling of China: how far does the linguistic evidence match genetics and archaeology? Because craniometry can produce results which make no sense at all (e.g. 260, 294–296, 314–318. The Washington Times. 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". Merchant caravans on the Silk Road would stop for relief at the thriving oasis towns. The Taklamakan Desert is an inhospitable approximately 1000x500 km (193,051 sq. “Since 1993, there have been a variety of samples taken from many mummies from diverse sites.” Professor Mair told me, “we’ve looked at both mitochondrial and Y chromosome DNA. The Discovery Channel explores the mystery of the ancient mummies of the Xinjang region of China. The mummies show that, at one time, the Tarim Basin was a melting pot of incomers from different lands and cultures long before the Uighurs and later Han Chinese settled the area. The Tarim Basin was not always so barren, which is one explanation for its settlement. " Barber addresses these claims by noting that "The Loulan Beauty is scarcely closer to 'Turkic' in her anthropological type than she is to Han Chinese.  However, archaeology and linguistics professor Elizabeth Wayland Barber cautions against assuming the mummies spoke Tocharian, noting a gap of about a thousand years between the mummies and the documented Tocharians: "people can change their language at will, without altering a single gene or freckle. “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.  The rough shape of her clothes and the lice in her hair suggest she lived a difficult life. 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 … CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (. Hemphill & Mallory (2004) confirm a second Caucasian physical type at Alwighul (700–1 BCE) and Krorän (200 CE) different from the earlier one found at Qäwrighul (1800 BCE) and Yanbulaq (1100–500 BCE): This study confirms the assertion of Han  that the occupants of Alwighul and Krorän are not derived from proto-European steppe populations, but share closest affinities with Eastern Mediterranean populations. A gold mask covers his bearded face, similar to those found in burials in ancient Greece, hiding, Professor Mair told me, distinctly Caucasian features. 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. Scholars have traditionally scoffed at these accounts, but it now seems that they may be accurate. As Wong says, "Despite the political issues, excavations of the grave sites are continuing. The mummies are found in cemeteries located along the southern and eastern edges of the Taklamakan (one of the world’s largest and driest deserts), which sits in the center of the Tarim Basin. , Mallory amd Mair (2000) propose the movement of at least two Caucasian physical types into the Tarim Basin. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. The Taklamakan Mummies ( Tocharian mummies) In the late 1980's, perfectly preserved 3000-year-old mummies began appearing in a remote Taklamakan desert. Chang, K. C.: "Studies of Shang Archaeology", p. 1. Affinities are especially close between Krorän, the latest of the Xinjiang samples, and Sapalli, the earliest of the Bactrian samples, while Alwighul and later samples from Bactria exhibit more distant phenetic affinities. The oldest mummies are from 2000 BC. While analysis of the DNA of the mummies is compatible with European DNA types, this does not mean they were direct European migrants. It is known as one of the largest sandy deserts in the world. (1999). His garments are still vibrant and elaborate: gold-embroidered red and maroon cloth-covered in figures of fighting men styled similar to Greeks or Romans. Total mummies found there were five. , The Loulan Beauty possesses a comb, with four teeth remaining. , Mitochondrial DNA analysis showed that maternal lineages carried by the people at Xiaohe included mtDNA haplogroups H, K, U5, U7, U2e, T and R*, which are now most common in West Eurasia. Yale University Press, 1982. According to the researchers, these mummies are ancient Caledonia tribe in central Scotland and was buried in that place for 3,000 years. 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. (2010). In 1995, Mair claims that "the earliest mummies in the Tarim Basin were exclusively Caucasoid, or Europoid" with east Asian migrants arriving in the eastern portions of the Tarim Basin around 3,000 years ago while the Uyghur peoples arrived around the year 842. The Takla Makan mummies provide controversial evidence that China’s northwestern Xinjiang province was once settled by early Europeans. By the 1st Century CE, the Kushan Empire had expanded significantly and may have annexed part of the Tarim Basin. Most of these mummies were found on the eastern end of the Tarim Basin (around the area of Lopnur, Subeshi near Turpan, Loulan, Kumul), or along the southern edge of the Tarim Basin (Khotan, Niya, and Cherchen or Qiemo). 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. 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? She was buried 3 feet beneath the ground. Caucasians Preceded East Asians in Basin. The New York Times. Her skirt is made of leather, with fur on the inside for warmth. Anthropologist Irene Good, a specialist in early Eurasian textiles, noted the woven diagonal twill pattern indicated the use of a rather sophisticated loom and said that the textile is "the easternmost known example of this kind of weaving technique.". With European features, they did not appear to be of Chinese descent. The Y chromosomes of the men indicated origins in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Siberia, while the women’s mitochondrial DNA suggested Siberia and Europe. Sounds like Celts or very early Viking nomads, doesn't it? The possible presence of speakers of Indo-European languages in the Tarim Basin by about 2000 BCE could, if confirmed, be interpreted as evidence that cultural exchanges occurred among Indo-European and Chinese populations at a very early date. For Churchward, Mu was a lost civilisation and continent in the East, which he estimated was 50,000 years old and once the home of 64 million inhabitants.  However, the culture and the technology in the northwest region of Tarim basin were less advanced than that in the East China of Yellow River-Erlitou (2070 BCE ~ 1600 BCE) or Majiayao culture (3100 BCE ~ 2600 BCE), the earliest bronze-using cultures in China, which implies that the northwest region did not use copper or any metal until bronze technology was introduced to the region by the Shang dynasty in about 1600 BC. Experts now believe that the early mummies represent Anatolian tribes that migrated in two separate waves a thousand years apart. , The Beauty of Loulan is wearing clothing made of wool and fur. 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. I do think that many of the most important and earliest groups came along the steppe route from the west.”.  Since then, numerous other mummies have been found and analyzed, many of them now displayed in the museums of Xinjiang. The Taklamakan Desert One of the better known mummies found in the Taklamakan Desert is an individual known as Cherchen Man, who was determined to be of Celtic origin. 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. More importantly, Xiaohe has produced the oldest, best-preserved mummies in the Tarim Basin, ideal for testing hypotheses about the origins of these people, and … In the late 1980’s, several well-preserved mummies were discovered in the Taklamakan desert. Grains of wheat were discovered inside the bag. , The Beauty of Loulan lived around 1800 BCE, until about the age of 45, when she died. But unlike the earliest mummies, his grave goods and clothing suggest a southern rather than northern European origin.  She was wrapped in a woolen cloth; the cloth was made of two separate pieces and was not large enough to cover her entire body, thereby leaving her ankles exposed. Record low temperatures of -25.7 degrees Fahrenheit were experienced during February 2008, when the desert was covered in its entirety with a thin layer of snow exceeding 1.5 inches in depth. 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.. She is also wearing a woolen cap.  The US National Gallery of Art defines the Chinese Bronze Age as the "period between about 2000 BC and 771 BC," which begins with Erlitou culture and ends abruptly with the disintegration of Western Zhou rule. "However, within China a small group of ethnic separatists have taken advantage of this opportunity to stir up trouble and are acting like buffoons. This mission revealed the existence, from the 3rd millennium BC, of populations in the vast Taklamakan Desert, where all traces of life had disappeared. Haplogroups later regarded as typically South Asian included M5 and M*. oval. 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. Today there has been excavated hundreds of mummies in the Taklamakan Desert. Taklamakan Desert is located in the center of Tarim Basin, in the south of Xinjiang Province Taklamakan Desert is 337600 square km ( 1000km long from east to west and 400km wide from north to south), the largest in China and second largest desert in the world.  Her hair was infested with lice. Buried betw… Although the Tarim mummies preceded the Tocharian texts by several centuries, their shared geographical location and links to Western Eurasia have led many scholars to infer that the mummies were related to the Tocharian peoples. (15/3/2010). Haplogroups now common in Central Asian or Siberian populations included: C4 and C5. “There were several waves coming at different times and from different places,’” he said. He is phenomenally well preserved for being around 3,000 years old, with Nordic features such as high cheekbones and long nose, as well as reddish hair and beard. circa 2000 BCE, in desert of NW China (Tarim Basin/Taklamakan desert) lay more than 200 mummies with Euro features, red/brown hair, with tattoos, wool hats and buried in upside down boats. Most of these mummies were found on the eastern end of the Tarim Basin (around the area of Lopnur, Subeshi near Turpan, Loulan, Kumul), or along the southern edge of the Tarim Basin ( The mummies share many typical Caucasian body features (tall stature, high cheekbones, deep-set eyes), and many of them have their hair physically intact, ranging in color from blond to red to deep brown, and generally long, curly and braided. https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/where-is-the-taklamakan-desert.html For instance, the Persian king Darius recorded a victory over the "Sakas of the pointed hats". Takla Makan. Wade, N. A Host of Mummies, A Forest of Secrets. The Takla Makan Mummies. (19/4/2005). Mair, Victor H., "Mummies of the Tarim Basin,".  According to Chinese sources, the city states of the Tarim reached the height of their political power during the 3rd to 4th centuries CE, although this may actually indicate an increase in Chinese involvement in the Tarim, following the collapse of the Kushan Empire. The Takla Makan mummies provide controversial evidence that China’s northwestern Xinjiang province was once settled by early Europeans. Tocharian is attested in documents between the 3rd and 9th centuries CE, although the first known epigraphic evidence dates to the 6th century CE. 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. Popular accounts claim that Takla Makan means "go in and you will never come out". The name may be an Uyghur borrowing of the Arabic tark, "to leave alone/out/behind, relinquish, abandon" + makan, "place". The Taklamakan Desert (also Taklimakan) is a desert of Central Asia, in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. 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. ", She possesses a "neatly woven bag or soft basket." 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. The Taklamakan Desert has very little water, therefore it is hazardous to cross. Mallory & Mair (2000), pp. , From the evidence available, we have found that during the first 1,000 years after the Loulan Beauty, the only settlers in the Tarim Basin were Caucasoid. Chärchän man wore a red twill tunic and tartan leggings. In her book, "The Mummies of Urumchi", Elizabeth Wayland Barber told about this groundbreaking discovery. "The Dead Tell a Tale China Doesn't Care to Listen To", "A meeting of civilisations: The mystery of China's celtic mummies", "Evidence that a West-East admixed population lived in the Tarim Basin as early as the early Bronze Age", Mitochondrial DNA analysis of human remains from the Yuansha site in Xinjiang, "Analysis of ancient human mitochondrial DNA from the Xiaohe cemetery: Insights into prehistoric population movements in the Tarim Basin, China", "Analysis of ancient human mitochondrial DNA from the Xiaohe cemetery: insights into prehistoric population movements in the Tarim Basin, China", "Teaching Chinese Archaeology, Part Two — NGA", "Ancient Mummies of the Tarim Basin | Expedition Magazine". The authors associate these types with the Tocharian and Iranian (Saka) branches of the Indo-European language family, respectively. Findings published in 2010 by Jilin University demonstrated that the mummies had Eurapoid genes and European and Siberian markers. Mummies, some 4000 years old, have been found in the region. It is currently run by Corinne Debaine-Francfort. " Due to the "fear of fuelling separatist currents", the Xinjiang museum, regardless of dating, displays all their mummies, both Tarim and Han, together. Expedition 52:3. , When the Loulan Beauty was discovered, it caused excitement among the local Uyghur population of Xinjiang. Scientific analysis of the human remains revealed that the mummies can be dated as far back as 1900BC to 200AD. The Beauty of Loulan was surrounded by funerary gifts.  According to Elizabeth Barber, she probably died in the winter because of her provisions against the cold. The Taklamakan desert has given up hundreds of desiccated corpses in the past 25 years, and archaeologists say the discoveries in the Tarim Basin are some of the most significant finds in … He named Parthia "Ānxī" (Chinese: 安息), a transcription of "Arshak" (Arsaces), the name of the founder of Parthian dynasty.  Others believe the Erlitou sites belong to the preceding Xia (Wade–Giles: Hsia) dynasty. Further, the results demonstrate that such Eastern Mediterraneans may also be found at the urban centers of the Oxus civilization located in the north Bactrian oasis to the west. , It is the Afanasevo culture to which Mallory & Mair (2000:294–296, 314–318) trace the earliest Bronze Age settlers of the Tarim and Turpan basins. 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. The sites where these mummies have been found, lie on the edges of the Taklamakan Desert.  Though that provides a concise frame of reference, it overlooks the continued importance of bronze in Chinese metallurgy and culture. But Professor Mair also believes that over a period of two millennia, smaller migrations from other directions accompanied these two primary waves of incomers. 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. Barber suggests that this comb was a dual purpose tool to comb hair and to "pack the weft in tightly during weaving. Her cause of death is likely due to lung failure from ingesting a large amount of sand, charcoal, and dust. In this desert, it never rains, and this is why these mummies are better preserved than the Egyptians. It has been suggested that such activities as chariot warfare and bronze-making may have been transmitted to the east by these Indo-European nomads.  Some Uyghurs have named her the mother of the nation because they say the Uyghurs are her descendants. , respectively belong to the cultures of Dayuan in Ferghana and Daxia in Bactria caused excitement among local! 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