The Taklamakan Mummies(Tocharian mummies) In the late 1980’s, perfectly preserved 3000-year-old mummies began appearing in a remote Taklamakan desert. They had long reddish-blond hair, European features and didn’t appear to be the ancestors of modern-day Chinese people. Archaeologists now think they may have been the citizens of an ancient civilization that existed at the crossroads between China and Europe.
Victor Mair, a specialist in the ancient corpses and co-author of “Mummies of the Tarim Basin”, said:“Modern DNA and ancient DNA show that Uighurs, Kazaks, Krygyzs, the peoples of Central Asia are all mixed Caucasian and East Asian. The modern and ancient DNA tell the same story.”
The discoveries in the 1980s of the undisturbed 4,000-year-old ”Beauty of Loulan” and the younger 3,000-year-old body of the ”Charchan Man” are legendary in world archaeological circles for the fine state of their preservation and for the wealth of knowledge they bring to modern research. In the second millennium BC, the oldest mummies, like the Loulan Beauty, were the earliest settlers in the Tarim Basin.
A Tocharian female mummy with long flaxen blond hair (Image 1 and 2), perfectly preserved in ponytails. Items of weaved material, identical to Celtic cloth, definitively proved the Indo-European origins of the Tocharians, who not only built the fantastic Silk Road cities which today lie deserted, but who are also credited with bringing Buddhism, horses, the saddle, and iron working to China. This mummy was approximately 40-years old, was found in the main chamber of the same tomb. Her tall stature, high nose, and red hair indicate that she was of European descent. A Tocharian man with red-blond hair(Image 3); his clear European features still visible after nearly 3,500 years in his desert grave in Taklamakan. This mummified man was approximately 40 years old at the time of his death. "Cherchen Man” and Family (China) (Image 4) A family of immaculately preserved, 3,000-year-old caucasian mummies were found in East Turkistan, in 1978. Though it was commonly believed that the first contact between East Turkistan and the West occurred relatively late in world history — around the middle of the second century B.C. — carbon dating has shown that the Cherchen man and his family died 900 years earlier. They were preserved naturally by the salty and dry Chinese landscape. Meanwhile, Yingpan Man,(Image 5) a nearly perfectly preserved 2,000-year-old Caucasoid mummy, discovered in 1995 in the region that bears his name, has been seen as the best preserved of all the undisturbed mummies that have so far been found.
Yingpan Man not only had a gold foil death mask – a Greek tradition – covering his blonde bearded face, but also wore elaborate golden embroidered red and maroon garments with seemingly Western European designs.
His nearly 2.00 meter (six-foot, six-inch) long body is the tallest of all the mummies found so far and the clothes and artifacts discovered in the surrounding tombs suggest the highest level of Caucasoid civilization in the ancient Tarim Basin region. One of the most famous Tocharian mummies found, the so-called “Beauty of Loulan”; and right, her face as reconstructed by an artist. (Image 6 and 7). “Beauty of Loulan” The oldest mummies found in the Tarim Basin come from Loulan located at the east end of the egg shaped Taklamakan Desert. Dressed only in shades of brown, she was alive as early as 2000 B.C. during the era of Abraham and the patriarchs. She died when she was about 40. Next to her head there is a basket which contains grains of wheat