Cherchen Ma, Tarim mummy
Hundreds of mummies hundreds and thousands of years old have been discovered in Xinjiang. They span a period of time from 1800 BC to as recently as the Ching dynasty (1644-1912) and come from all walks of life. Some were kings and warriors, others housewives and farmers. "They were ordinary people who lived and died in Xinjiang over the ages,'' Wang Binghua, a retired archaeologist who exhumed many of the mummies, told the Los Angeles Times. [Source: Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, October 24, 2010]

Most of the mummies have been found in a vast area in the Taklimakan desert known as the Tarim Basin. Once crossed by rivers and freckled with oases and settlements, the basin was located at a crossroads between Europe and Asia and was home at different times to an astonishing mix of peoples — Europeans, Siberians, Mongolians, Han Chinese. The Tarim Basin is encircled by forbidding mountain ranges. The Taklimakan Desert is so desolate Silk Road travelers would edge along its northern or southern borders. Today the terrain is so dry and wind-swept it is almost uninhabitable, [Ibid]

The Tarim mummies are among the greatest recent archaeological finds in China, perhaps the world. Their skin is parched and blackened from the wear and tear of thousands of years, but their bodies are strikingly intact. The arid conditions in the desert and the salty sand found in this region have kept the mummies in amazingly good condition. Unlike the embalmed mummies of ancient Egypt, they were preserved naturally by the elements. [Source: Edward Wong, New York Times, November 18, 2008]

Mary Mycio wrote on Slate.com: The "desiccated corpses are "perfectly preserved down to their eyelashes and the weave of their clothes. “DNA from the male corpses shows Western origins, while females trace to both East and West.” Victor Mair of the University of Pennsylvania “and other scholars think that the mummy people’s ancestors were horse riders from the Eastern European steppe who migrated to the Altai in Asia around 3500 B.C. After 1,500 years, some of the Altai people’s descendants, herding cattle, horses, camels, sheep, and goats, ventured south into what is now the Xinjiang region. [Source: Mary Mycio, Slate.com, February 14, 2013]

The mummies are star attractions within China, the centerpiece of the refurbished museum in Urumqi, and another in the oasis town of Turpan, 140 miles from Urumqi, where ethnic Chinese mummies discovered in the region are on display. Several mummies are in glass display cases in the museum in Urumqi. In 2010, two mummies traveled to the United States as part of an exhibit titled "Secrets of the Silk Road: Mystery Mummies of China" at Santa Ana's Bowers Museum.

Xiaohe: the Most Interesting Tarim Mummy Site

Tarim mummy
Xiaohe ("Small River") lies about 100 miles west of Loulan, the home of the Loulan Beauty. Small River Cemetery No. 5 (SRC5), a 20-foot-high, man-made sand mound in Xiaohe, is the oldest and most intriguing Tarim mummy site. Found in 1934 but then forgotten, is located very remote, restricted desert in Lop Nur in the Tarim Basin in Xinjiang where China once conducted nuclear tests. Rediscovered in 2000, the site was completely excavated in the early 2000s to protect it from looters. Under the sand archeologists excavated five layers of burials and 167 graves, revealing over 1,000 objects and 30 well-preserved desiccated corpses and mummies, the oldest dating to around 2000 B.C. The mummies were buried in coffins shaped like overturned boats. Sexual iconography was everywhere at the site: in the coffins and on posts representing phalluses and vulvas placed in front of each grave. Under the sand near the tops of the mound were nearly 200 poplar posts, up to four meters high—a considerable amount of lumber for a remote desert sitr. Some of the posts, painted black and red, were either torpedo-shaped or resembled oversized oars. The bodies were situated under the boat-like coffins wrapped in cattle hides. [Source: Mary Mycio, Slate.com, February 14, 2013, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology]

The entire Xiaohe Tomb complex contains about 330 tombs, about 160 of which have been looted by grave robbers. Nicholas Wade wrote in the New York Times, “In the middle of a terrifying desert north of Tibet, Chinese archaeologists have excavated an extraordinary cemetery. Its inhabitants died almost 4,000 years ago, yet their bodies have been well preserved by the dry air. Their remains, though lying in one of the world’s largest deserts, are buried in upside-down boats. And where tombstones might stand, declaring pious hope for some god’s mercy in the afterlife, their cemetery sports instead a vigorous forest of phallic symbols, signaling an intense interest in the pleasures or utility of procreation. The long-vanished people have no name, because their origin and identity are still unknown. Their graveyard lies near a dried-up riverbed in the Tarim Basin. The mummies are so far, the oldest discovered in the Tarim Basin. Carbon tests done at Beijing University show that the oldest part dates to 3,980 years ago.[Source: Nicholas Wade, New York Times, March 15, 2010 \=]

“The Small River Cemetery was rediscovered in 1934 by the Swedish archaeologist Folke Bergman and then forgotten for 66 years until relocated through GPS navigation by a Chinese expedition. Archaeologists began excavating it from 2003 to 2005. Their reports have been translated and summarized by Victor H. Mair, a professor of Chinese at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert in the prehistory of the Tarim Basin. As the Chinese archaeologists dug through the five layers of burials, Dr. Mair recounted, they came across almost 200 poles, each 13 feet tall. Many had flat blades, painted black and red, like the oars from some great galley that had foundered beneath the waves of sand. \=\ “At the foot of each pole there were indeed boats, laid upside down and covered with cowhide. The bodies inside the boats were still wearing the clothes they had been buried in. They had felt caps with feathers tucked in the brim, uncannily resembling Tyrolean mountain hats. They wore large woolen capes with tassels and leather boots... Within each boat coffin were grave goods, including beautifully woven grass baskets, skillfully carved masks and bundles of ephedra, an herb that may have been used in rituals or as a medicine.” \=\

Lop Nur was once the site of large lake known as "Wandering Lake" because the Tarim River changed its course, causing its terminal lake to alter its location between the Lop Nur dried basin. Satellite photographs show ancient waterways in what is now barren desert, indicating that green oases existed there in ancient times. The lake at Lop Nur measured 3,100 square kilometers (1,200 square miles) in 1928, but after that dried up due to construction of dams which blocked the flow of water feeding into the lake system. [Source: Wikipedia]

Wade wrote: “There are no known settlements near the cemetery, so the people probably lived elsewhere and reached the cemetery by boat. No woodworking tools have been found at the site, supporting the idea that the poles were carved off site. The Tarim Basin was already quite dry when the Small River people entered it 4,000 years ago. They probably lived at the edge of survival until the lakes and rivers on which they depended finally dried up around A.D. 400. Burials with felt hats and woven baskets were common in the region until some 2,000 years ago.” \=\

History of the Tarim Mummies

20111123-tarim mummy10.jpg
Tarim mummy
Mummies have been found at several sites in the Tarim basin and western China. Archaeologists have unearthed the mummified remains of about a hundred individuals at the Niya site, not far from Lop Nur. Many mummies have also been found in the arid salt beds near Urumqi.

Several famous ones have been found in Loulan, an oasis town on the eastern edge of the Taklamakan Desert, where the northern and southern branches of the Silk Road came together, and near the Lop Nur nuclear testing site. The kingdom of Loulan thrived for 700 years beginning in the 2nd century B.C. Many discoveries came from the Xiaohe tombs there. The Xiaohe Tombs were discovered in 1934 by a Swedish explorer and excavated by a Chinese team starting in 2000. They have been dated as being between 3,000 and 4,000 years old, making them between 2,000 and 1,000 years older than the Loulan Kingdom.

Yidilisi Abuduresula is a Uighur archaeologist working at Xiaohe, where 350 graves have been discovered. The bottom layer of graves dates back nearly 4,000 years. More recent graves point to a matriarchal herding society that worshiped cows, Abuduresula said.

The oldest mummies, were probably Tocharians, herders who traveled eastward across the Central Asian steppes and whose language belonged to the Indo-European family. The mummies at the Niya site probably belonged to the Afanasievo or later Andronova cultures of the Russian steppes. The ancient cities of Niya and Loulan thrived around the rivers and lakes of Tarim basis in the Taklimakan desert and died out when the water sources dried up. A second wave of migrants came from what is now Iran.

Some may have come from as far away as Europe. A mummy from the Lop Nur area, the 2,000-year-old Yingpan Man, was unearthed wearing a hemp death mask with gold foil and a red robe decorated with naked angelic figures and antelopes — all hallmarks of a Hellenistic civilization.

Individuals Among the Xinjiang Mummies

20111123-asia obscura mummy04.jpg
Tarim mummy
“All the mummies tell a story,” Demick wrote. “In an ancient graveyard in Astana, near Turpan, a man and a woman are buried together in an underground crypt that dates from the Tang dynasty (AD 618-906) and is one of the few places that the public can see mummies in their original graves. The woman looks younger than the man. Her mouth is in a grimace; forensic specialists say her arm and neck were broken shortly before her death.” "We think she might have been beaten and buried alive to be with her husband. He died naturally,'' said Bai Yingcai, a tour guide and mummy expert who was taking visitors through the crypts. [Source: Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, October 24, 2010]

One man who lived in the 3rd or 4th century AD who was 6 feet 6 and dressed in magnificent red and gold embroidered clothing A 3-month-old baby (8th century) with a felt bonnet and small blue stones covering the eyes, which were possibly the same color. Some of the men have red beards; the women have long blond braids.

The body of a 55-year-old man dug up from a 3000-year old grave was dressed in woolen garments and deerskin boots very similar to those worn by horsemen who live in western China today. His hands were bound together with a red woolen bracelet and he was buried with three women and a horse's skull and leg hollowed and stuffed with reeds.

A 50-centimeter-long mummy of an infant boy, found in the 1980s near Khotan in the Taklamakan desert, was wrapped in bag made from sheep skin placed inside a small coffin lined with white felt. Smooth stones were placed over each eye. The nostrils were stuffed with pieces of vermillion yarn. The face is painted making him look like a doll. A tiny milk feeder made from the skin of a sheep teat was placed near his side.

Other finds from the Xiaohe Tombs include: 1) a burial mask with teeth made of bird feathers and no eyes; 2) pointed hats like those seen in Persian carvings; and 3) a 135-centimeter wooden model of a mummy in a boat-shaped coffin that is though to represent a person who for some reason or another couldn’t be buried there but wanted to. Some of the carving also resemble Bronze Age carvings found in tombs on New Grange in Ireland.

Loulan Beauty

Loulan Beauty
The most famous mummy unearthed in the Taklimakan desert is that of woman with long reddish blonde hair. Discovered near Loulan in 1979 and nicknamed the "Loulan Beauty," she was five feet tall and was buried wearing a goatskin wrap, woolen cape, leather shoes and a hat trimmed with goose feathers. Carbon-dating indicates that her body is 3,800 years old but similar tests of the wood of the coffin of mummy found nearby remotely suggest that she could be 6,000 years old. She is also known as the Xiaohe Princess.

The Loulan Beauty was unearthed in 1980 by Chinese archaeologists who were working with a television crew on a film about the Silk Road near Lop Nur, a dried salt lake 120 miles from Urumqi that has been used by the Chinese for nuclear testing. Thanks to the extreme dryness and the preservative properties of salt, the corpse was remarkably intact — her eyelashes, the fine hair on her skin, even the lines on her skin were visible. She was buried face up about 3 feet under, wrapped in a simple woolen cloth and dressed in a goatskin, a felt hat and leather shoes. [Source: Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, October 24, 2010]

Barbara Demick wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “What was most remarkable about the corpse was that she appeared to be Caucasian, with her telltale large nose, narrow jaw and reddish-brown hair. The discovery turned on its head assumptions that Caucasians didn't frequent these parts until at least a thousand years later, when trading between Europe and Asia began along the Silk Road. Since Uighurs themselves often resemble Europeans rather than Chinese, many were quick to adopt the Beauty of Loulan as one of their own.” "If you went to see the mummy in the museum, a Uighur would come up to you and whisper proudly, 'She's our ancestor,'" said Victor H. Mair, a professor of Chinese studies at the University of Pennsylvania. "It became a political hot potato." [Source: Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, October 24, 2010]

Despite her fine features, lived a hardscrabble life. Her shoes and clothing had repeatedly been mended. Her hair was infested with lice. She had ingested a considerable amount of sand, dust and charcoal, and lung failure most likely caused her to die in her early 40s. "You can see that even back then, pollution was a problem," said Wang. [Ibid]

Sexuality, Symbolism and Interesting Finds Among the Xinjiang Mummies

Often, the mummies' accessories are more interesting than the bodies themselves. Some have high pointed hats; another, possibly a healer, was buried with a bag of marijuana. Wang, the Chinese archaeologist, told the Los Angeles Times: "You can study the mummies to learn what these people ate, how they dressed, their social life, their standards of beauty, how they interacted with others. This information is very precious.''

In one cemetery in Hami, in northeastern Xinjiang, archaeologists found plaid fabric similar to what you'd see on a Scottish kilt. Elizabeth Barber, a professor emeritus at Occidental College and a leading expert on ancient textiles, used the cloth to surmise that the mummies shared Celtic ancestry with the Scots. In fact, the cloth was almost the same as samples found in ancient salt mines in Hallstatt, Austria, an area once inhabited by early Celtic tribes. [Source: Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, October 24, 2010]

On what archeologist found in the boat-shaped coffins at Xiaohe, Nicholas Wade wrote in the New York Times, “A Bronze Age salesclerk from Victoria’s Secret seems to have supplied the clothes beneath — barely adequate woolen loin cloths for the men, and skirts made of string strands for the women. In the women’s coffins, the Chinese archaeologists encountered one or more life-size wooden phalluses laid on the body or by its side. Looking again at the shaping of the 13-foot poles that rise from the prow of each woman’s boat, the archaeologists concluded that the poles were in fact gigantic phallic symbols. The men’s boats, on the other hand, all lay beneath the poles with bladelike tops. These were not the oars they had seemed at first sight, the Chinese archaeologists concluded, but rather symbolic vulvas that matched the opposite sex symbols above the women’s boats. “The whole of the cemetery was blanketed with blatant sexual symbolism,” Dr. Mair wrote. In his view, the “obsession with procreation” reflected the importance the community attached to fertility.[Source: Nicholas Wade, New York Times, March 15, 2010 \=]

“Arthur Wolf, an anthropologist at Stanford University and an expert on fertility in East Asia, said that the poles perhaps mark social status, a common theme of tombs and grave goods. “It seems that what most people want to take with them is their status, if it is anything to brag about,” he said. Dr. Mair said the Chinese archaeologists’ interpretation of the poles as phallic symbols was “a believable analysis.” The buried people’s evident veneration of procreation could mean they were interested in both the pleasure of sex and its utility, given that it is difficult to separate the two. But they seem to have had particular respect for fertility, Dr. Mair said, because several women were buried in double-layered coffins with special grave goods. \=\

“Living in harsh surroundings, “infant mortality must have been high, so the need for procreation, particularly in light of their isolated situation, would have been great,” Dr. Mair said. Another possible risk to fertility could have arisen if the population had become in-bred. “Those women who were able to produce and rear children to adulthood would have been particularly revered,” Dr. Mair said. Several items in the Small River Cemetery burials resemble artifacts or customs familiar in Europe, Dr. Mair noted. Boat burials were common among the Vikings. String skirts and phallic symbols have been found in Bronze Age burials of Northern Europe.” \=\

Evidence Tarim Mummies Came from the West

The Tarim Mummies show that before the arrival of the Han Chinese, Western China was occupied by people with Caucasian features. The mummies also seem to indicate that the very first people to settle Xinjiang came from the west not the Chinese interior. Edward Wong wrote in the New York Times, "Foreign scholars say that at the very least, the Tarim mummies show that Xinjiang has always been a melting pot, a place where people from various corners of Eurasia founded societies and where cultures overlapped. Contact between peoples was particularly frequent in the heyday of the Silk Road, when camel caravans transported goods that flowed from as far away as the Mediterranean. It’s historically been a place where cultures have mixed together, said Yidilisi Abuduresula, 58, a Uighur archaeologist in Xinjiang working on the mummies.” [Source: Edward Wong, New York Times, November 18, 2008]

The features of the mummies are so striking that some scholars have speculated that the ancient people of Western China could have been relatives of the Celts. The Tarim Basin is near the homeland of the Tocharians, the easternmost speakers of Indo-European languages. Their language was more similar to Celtic and Germanic languages than the Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iran languages spoken by geographically close people. Some scholars believe the people of ancient western China spoke Tocharian. Fifteen-hundred-year-old manuscripts written in Tocharian have been found in the Tarim basin.

The diagonal twill weaving pattern of the 4,000-year-old wool clothes of the mummies is remarkably similar to the weaving of the ancient Celts. In her book, “The Mummies of Urumchi”, Elizabeth Wayland Barber argues the similarities are too unique to be a coincidence and this means contact between Central Asia and Europe was much earlier than previously thought.

The theory that the earliest mummies came from the west is supported by a number of scholars. Textile expert Elizabeth Wayland Barber wrote in her book “The Mummies of Urumchi” that the kind of cloth discovered in the oldest grave sites can be traced to the Caucasus. [Source: Edward Wong, New York Times, November 18, 2008]

Han Kangxin, a physical anthropologist, has also concluded that the earliest settlers were not Asians. He has studied the skulls of the mummies, and says that genetic tests can be unreliable. It’s very clear that these are of Europoid or Caucasoid origins. Of the hundreds of mummies discovered, there are some that are East Asian, but they are not as ancient as the Loulan Beauty or the Cherchen Man. The most prominent Chinese grave sites were discovered at a place called Astana, believed to be a former military outpost. The findings at the site span the Jin to the Han dynasties, from the third to the 10th centuries. [Ibid]

Politically-Tinged Study of the Tarim Mummies

Tarim mummy
Edward Wong of New York Times wrote, ‘some foreign scholars say the Chinese government, eager to assert anarrative of longtime Chinese dominance of Xinjiang, is unwilling to face the fact that the mummies provide evidence of heterogeneity throughout the region’s history of human settlement. As a result, they say, the government has been unwilling to give broad access to foreign scientists to conduct genetic tests on the mummies.” [Source: Edward Wong, New York Times, November 18, 2008]

“In terms of advanced scientific research on the mummies, it’s just not happening, said Victor H. Mair, a professor of Chinese language and literature at the University of Pennsylvania who has been at the forefront of foreign scholarship of the mummies. Mair first spotted one of the mummies, a red-haired corpse called the Cherchen Man, in the back room of a museum in Urumqi while leading a tour of Americans there in 1988, the first year the mummies were put on display.” [Ibid]

"Since then, he says that he has been obsessed with pinpointing the origins of the mummies, intent on proving a theory dear to him: that the movement of peoples throughout history is far more common than previously thought. Mair has assembled various groups of scholars to do research on the mummies. In 1993, the Chinese government tried to prevent Mair from leaving China with 52 tissue samples after having authorized him to go to Xinjiang and to collect them. But a Chinese researcher managed to slip a half-dozen vials to Mair. From those samples, an Italian geneticist concluded in 1995 that at least two of the mummies had a European genetic marker.” [Ibid]

“The Chinese government in recent years has allowed genetic research on the mummies to be conducted only by Chinese scientists. Jin Li, a well-known geneticist at Fudan University in Shanghai, tested the mummies in conjunction with a 2007 National Geographic documentary. He concluded that some of the oldest mummies had East Asian and even South Asian markers, though the documentary said further testing needed to be done. Mair has disputed any suggestion that the mummies were from East Asia. He believes that East Asian migrants did not appear in the Tarim Basin until much later than the Loulan Beauty and her people.” [Ibid]

Political Implications of the Xinjiang Mummies

The Xinjiang mummies have added another bone of contention to the raging ethnic conflict in Xinjiang, where Uighurs, a Turkic speaking people, consider themselves to be the indigenous population and the Han Chinese foreign invaders from the east.

For years, the Chinese government tried to thwart foreign scholars from looking too deeply into the mummies' origins. In 1993, the government confiscated tissue samples from Xinjiang mummies that Mair and an Italian geneticist, Paolo Francalacci, had collected with permission. (A Chinese scientist, whom Mair declines to name, later slipped the samples into their hands as they were preparing to leave.) Although DNA testing was not as advanced as it is today, the scientists were able to trace a genetic link to Europe. [Source: Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, October 24, 2010]

Mary Mycio wrote on Slate.com: “The discovery proved politically explosive because most of the Bronze Age SRC5 mummies had long noses, eye ridges, and red and brown hair, none of which is typically Chinese. The Caucasian features seemed to contradict the official government view that the Han Chinese had the oldest historical claim to Xinjiang, dating to the second century B.C. The question of which ethnic group lived here first is a serious issue today... Uyghur nationalists, who want greater religious and cultural freedom and more autonomy from China, latched onto the ancient Caucasian mummies to claim deeper historical roots in the region. The political conflict hampered research for a while. But when a 2010 genetics study concluded that the oldest mummies weren’t Han Chinese but weren’t Uyghur either, both sides backed down, leaving the subject to scientists and scholars where it belonged. [Source:Mary Mycio, Slate.com, February 14, 2013]

Tarim Mummies and Uighur Nationalism

Yingpan Man
A noticeable number of non-Chinese in western China today have blue eyes and light brown or reddish hair. Uighur nationalists in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang claim that the Loulan Beauty is "the mother of her nation" and use her as proof that local groups like the Uighurs were in Xinjiang long before the Han Chinese. Modern pop song have been written about her and posters with re-creations of her face are used to sell cassettes with the song.

Edward Wong wrote in the New York Times, “Uighur nationalists have gleaned evidence from the mummies, whose corpses span thousands of years, to support historical claims to the region. Some Uighurs have latched on to the fact that the oldest mummies are most likely from the west as evidence that Xinjiang has belonged to the Uighurs throughout history. A modern, nationalistic pop song praising the Loulan Beauty has even become popular. The people found in Loulan were Uighur people, according to the materials,said a Uighur tour guide in the city of Kashgar who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of running afoul of the Chinese authorities.” [Source: Edward Wong, New York Times, November 18, 2008]

‘Scholars generally agree that Uighurs did not migrate to what is now Xinjiang from Central Asia until the 10th century. But, uncomfortably for the Chinese authorities, evidence from the mummies also offers a far more nuanced history of settlement than the official Chinese version. By that official account, Zhang Qian, a general of the Han dynasty, led a military expedition to Xinjiang in the second century B.C. His presence isoften cited by the ethnic Han Chinese when making historical claims to the region. [Ibid]

DNA and Linguistic Analysis of Xiaohe Tarim Mummies

Some of the mummies, including a well-preserved woman known as the Beauty of Loulan, were analyzed by Li Jin, a well-known geneticist at Fudan University, who said in 2007 that their DNA contained markers indicating an East Asian and even South Asian origin. In comprehensive study published in February 2010 based on genetic tests of remains from the Xiaohe archeological site, geneticists from China's Jilin and Fudan universities concluded that the ancestors of these ancient people had indeed come from Europe, possibly by way of Siberia. According to the 2010 study, not only were the mummies not Chinese, but they weren't Uighur either — although their descendants might have eventually been assimilated into the Uighur population, according to Mair. [Source: Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, October 24, 2010]

Nicholas Wade wrote in the New York Times, “Despite the political tensions over the mummies’ origin, the Chinese said in a report published in February 2010 in the journal BMC Biology that the people were of mixed ancestry, having both European and some Siberian genetic markers, and probably came from outside China. The team was led by Hui Zhou of Jilin University in Changchun, with Dr. Li Jin, a well-known geneticist at Fudan University, as a co-author.[Source: Nicholas Wade, New York Times, March 15, 2010 \=]

“All the men who were analyzed had a Y chromosome that is now mostly found in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Siberia, but rarely in China. The mitochondrial DNA, which passes down the female line, consisted of a lineage from Siberia and two that are common in Europe. Since both the Y chromosome and the mitochondrial DNA lineages are ancient, Dr. Zhou and his team conclude the European and Siberian populations probably intermarried before entering the Tarim Basin some 4,000 years ago. \=\

“The language spoken by the people of the Small River Cemetery is unknown, but Dr. Mair believes it could have been Tokharian, an ancient member of the Indo-European family of languages. Manuscripts written in Tokharian have been discovered in the Tarim Basin, where the language was spoken from about A.D. 500 to 900. Despite its presence in the east, Tokharian seems more closely related to the “centum” languages of Europe than to the “satem” languages of India and Iran. The division is based on the words for hundred in Latin (centum) and in Sanskrit (satam). The Small River Cemetery people lived more than 2,000 years before the earliest evidence for Tokharian, but there is “a clear continuity of culture,” Dr. Mair said, in the form of people being buried with felt hats, a tradition that continued until the first few centuries A.D. \=\

Image Sources: Uighur images website; Silk Road Foundation; Wikipedia; Shanghai Museum; British Museum

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated July 2015

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