Grains of wheat were discovered inside the bag. The perfectly well-preserved mummies are estimated to be at least 3000 years-old. 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. 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.". 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. [2], 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. Archaeologists have therefore postulated that they may have been citizens of an ancient civilization in the crossroads between China and Europe. According to Elizabeth Barber, these provisions against the cold suggest she died during the winter. 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 Taklamakan Desert has markedly extreme climate conditions; it is the driest and the warmest desert in China, yet extreme lows are recorded in wintertime. [5], Mallory amd Mair (2000) propose the movement of at least two Caucasian physical types into the Tarim Basin. 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. [36] 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. 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. Chärchän man wore a red twill tunic and tartan leggings. She was buried 3 feet beneath the ground. ", She possesses a "neatly woven bag or soft basket." While analysis of the DNA of the mummies is compatible with European DNA types, this does not mean they were direct European migrants. 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. Yale University Press, 1982. [11], It has been asserted that the textiles found with the mummies are of an early European textile type based on close similarities to fragmentary textiles found in salt mines in Austria, dating from the second millennium BCE. The possible presence of speakers of Indo-European languages in the Tarim Basin by about 2000 BCE[31] could, if confirmed, be interpreted as evidence that cultural exchanges occurred among Indo-European and Chinese populations at a very early date. [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). 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. One man, three women and a baby. 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. The Discovery Channel explores the mystery of the ancient mummies of the Xinjang region of China. 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. The Subeshi headgear is likely an ethnic badge or a symbol of position in the society. ", The Beauty of Loulan (also referred to as the Loulan Beauty) is the most famous of the Tarim mummies, along with the Cherchen Man. [7] Since then, numerous other mummies have been found and analyzed, many of them now displayed in the museums of Xinjiang. (19/4/2005). With European features, they did not appear to be of Chinese descent. According to Ed Wong's New York Times article from 2008, Mair was actually prohibited from leaving the country with 52 genetic samples. It were in these remote regions that James Churchward (1851-1936) claimed he had found evidence of a lost civilisation: Mu. 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. During the 1980s, a series of perfectly preserved mummies were discovered in the Taklamakan desert. 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 oldest mummy discovered was the Beauty of Loulan, thought to be 4000 years old. 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. Taklamakan Desert . In the late 1980’s, several well-preserved mummies were discovered in the Taklamakan desert. Scholars have traditionally scoffed at these accounts, but it now seems that they may be accurate. 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. 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. Scientific analysis of the human remains revealed that the mummies can be dated as far back as 1900BC to 200AD. At six feet six inches, he is the tallest of all the mummies. Though Mu once stretched from Micronesia in the Wes… [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. 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. 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. Taklamakan Desert, The name alone promises an unparalleled adventure—loosely translated, it means the 'place of no return'. [28] According to Chinese sources, the city states of the Tarim reached the height of their political power during the 3rd to 4th centuries CE,[29] although this may actually indicate an increase in Chinese involvement in the Tarim, following the collapse of the Kushan Empire. Initially sustained by the waters of the Tarim River, Loulan was abandoned in the 4th century AD when the course of the river altered, leaving it without water. Yale University Press, 1982. The oldest mummies are from 2000 BC. The New York Times. He named Parthia "Ānxī" (Chinese: 安息), a transcription of "Arshak" (Arsaces), the name of the founder of Parthian dynasty. 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. 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. Mair, Victor H., "Mummies of the Tarim Basin,". It covers an area of 270,000 km2 of the … Her hood is made of felt and has a feather in it. Wells was able to extract undegraded DNA from the internal tissues. 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. Experts now believe that the early mummies represent Anatolian tribes that migrated in two separate waves a thousand years apart. [47][48] This has caused frustration among some scholars and historians because, according to their work, the Uyghurs are not descendants of the Tarim mummies or the Beauty of Loulan.[42][48]. 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. Expedition 52:3. [12], In 2007 the Chinese government allowed a National Geographic Society team headed by Spencer Wells to examine the mummies' DNA. The sites where these mummies have been found, lie on the edges of the Taklamakan Desert. It is known as one of the largest sandy deserts in the world. 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. The French-Chinese archaeological mission in Xinjiang is one of the most significant archaeological projects in recent years. 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. 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. Chang, K. C.: "Studies of Shang Archaeology", p. 1. All of the jade items excavated from the tomb of Fuhao of the Shang dynasty by Zheng Zhenxiang, more than 750 pieces, were from Khotan in modern Xinjiang. [41] Zhang Qian equated Parthia's level of advancement to the cultures of Dayuan in Ferghana and Daxia in Bactria. 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". [44] Her hair was infested with lice. [42][43][45][47][48] There was even a pop song written praising the Beauty of Loulan; the song became quite popular. Their costumes, and especially textiles, may indicate a common origin with Indo-European neolithic clothing techniques or a common low-level textile technology. [24], 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. early Indo-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. Xinjiang. “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. Her skirt is made of leather, with fur on the inside for warmth. "[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. 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. "A Discussion of Sino-Western Cultural Contact and Exchange in the Second Millennium BC Based on Recent Archeological Discoveries", "Hidden Discourses of Race: Imagining Europeans in China", "Tabloid Archaeology: Is Television Trivializing Science? The mummy was discovered near Lop Nur. "[5] 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. National Geographic, 189(3), 2-43. By the 1st Century CE, the Kushan Empire had expanded significantly and may have annexed part of the Tarim Basin. “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 Takla Makan mummies provide controversial evidence that China’s northwestern Xinjiang province was once settled by early Europeans. The new finds are also forcing a reexamination of old Chinese books that describe historical or legendary figures of great height, with deep-set blue or green eyes, long noses, full beards, and red or blond hair. Two of the earliest Takla Makan mummies come from the area around Loulan; however, they predate the city by 2000 years. Haplogroups later regarded as typically South Asian included M5 and M*. [35] Others believe the Erlitou sites belong to the preceding Xia (Wade–Giles: Hsia) dynasty. [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)." (2010). On each occasion, the groups split, some going east into China, others to Europe. The professor believes Yingpan man was a Sogdian merchant, a group of famed Eurasian traders from middle Iran. [44], When the Loulan Beauty was discovered, it caused excitement among the local Uyghur population of Xinjiang. [43] 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. 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. However, a Chinese scientist clandestinely sent him half a dozen, on which an Italian geneticist performed tests. [26], 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. Though modern Westerners tend to identify this type of hat as the headgear of a witch, there is evidence that these pointed hats were widely worn by both women and men in some Central Asian tribes. 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. 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. This mission revealed the existence, from the 3rd millennium BC, of populations in the vast Taklamakan Desert, where all traces of life had disappeared. [37] Though that provides a concise frame of reference, it overlooks the continued importance of bronze in Chinese metallurgy and culture. 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. 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