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Thread: Tocharians: The Mysterious Europoid Mummies of China

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    Exclamation Tocharians: The Mysterious Europoid Mummies of China

    It seems they were eastern Mediterraneans, whatever that means. I guess it could mean they were Iranians.

    But anyway, they had rather broad faces, despite their elongated skulls.



    A craniometric investigation of the Bronze Age settlement of Xinjiang
    American Journal of Physical Anthropology (Early View)

    Horse-mounted invaders from the Russo-Kazakh steppe or agricultural colonists from western Central Asia? A craniometric investigation of the Bronze Age settlement of Xinjiang

    Brian E. Hemphill, J.P. Mallory

    Numerous Bronze Age cemeteries in the oases surrounding the Tklamakan Desert of the Tarim Basin in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, western China, have yielded both mummified and skeletal human remains. A dearth of local antecedents, coupled with woolen textiles and the apparent Western physical appearance of the population, raised questions as to where these people came from. Two hypotheses have been offered by archaeologists to account for the origins of Bronze Age populations of the Tarim Basin. These are the steppe hypothesis and the Bactrian oasis hypothesis. Eight craniometric variables from 25 Aeneolithic and Bronze Age samples, comprising 1,353 adults from the Tarim Basin, the Russo-Kazakh steppe, southern China, Central Asia, Iran, and the Indus Valley, are compared to test which, if either, of these hypotheses are supported by the pattern of phenetic affinities possessed by Bronze Age inhabitants of the Tarim Basin. Craniometric differences between samples are compared with Mahalanobis generalized distance (d2), and patterns of phenetic affinity are assessed with two types of cluster analysis (the weighted pair average linkage method and the neighbor-joining method), multidimensional scaling, and principal coordinates analysis. Results obtained by this analysis provide little support for either the steppe hypothesis or the Bactrian oasis hypothesis. Rather, the pattern of phenetic affinities manifested by Bronze Age inhabitants of the Tarim Basin suggests the presence of a population of unknown origin within the Tarim Basin during the early Bronze Age. After 1200 B.C., this population experienced significant gene flow from highland populations of the Pamirs and Ferghana Valley. These highland populations may include those who later became known as the Saka and who may have served as middlemen facilitating contacts between East (Tarim Basin, China) and West (Bactria, Uzbekistan) along what later became known as the Great Silk Road.

    ...

    It appears that neither Han Chinese nor steppe populations played any detectable role in the initial establishment or subsequent interregional biological interactions of Bronze Age Tarim Basin populations.

    ...

    This research confirms that populations from the urban centers of the Oxus civilization of Bactria played a role in the population history of the Bronze Age inhabitants of the Tarim Basin. Yet these Bactrian populations were not the direct, early colonizers envisioned by advocates of the Bactrian oasis hypothesis (Barber, [1999]). None of the analyses document the immediate and profoundly close affinities between colonizers and the colonized expected if the Tarim Basin experienced substantial direct settlement by Bactrian agriculturalists.

    ...

    This study confirms the assertion of Han ([1998]) that the occupants of Alwighul and Krorn are not derived from proto-European steppe populations, but share closest affinities with Eastern Mediterranean populations. 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. Affinities are especially close between Krorn, 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. This pattern may reflect a possible major shift in interregional contacts in Central Asia in the early centuries of the second millennium B.C.


    Some data on the people from the earliest cemetary of Qwrighul (2300-1430 B.C.):

    Males had skulls 183mm long and 137.9mm wide (mesocranic, CI=75.4)
    They were broad-faced (bizygomatic 136.2, upper facial height 66.5, UFI=48.8)
    The had rather short mesorrhine noses (50.9x26.2mm).

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    I've been interested in the Tarim mummies for a while now. It is a fascinating region especially for those of us interested in PIE and IE studies.

    I've read Mallory and Mair's book entitled "The Tarim Mummies" and there is a chapter about the physical and genetic makeup of the mummies in the various graves around the region. According to the Chinese physical anthropologist, Han Kangxin, there are four physical types found in the Tarim region: "Proto-Europoid", "Pamir-Ferghana", "Indo-Afghan" and of course "Mongoloid".

    Here's an interesting quote from Mallory in the book:

    "By now, the attentive reader will know we owe another caveat: the three physical types employed by Han Kangxin - Proto-Europoids, Indo-Afghans and Pamir-Ferghanans - are largely relabeled Nordics, Mediterraneans and Alpines, terms that send shivers of apprehension down the spines of Western biological anthropologists." LOL!!

    There is a map in the book that gives a breakdown of the physical types found in the Tarim, with each grave area given a 'pie-chart' showing approximate percentages of each. Indeed, Kroran is shown to have about 80% Med with the remainder being Mongoloid at around 200 AD. Alwighul is shown to be pretty evenly divided between the four types between 700-100 BC. Also, in the far western part of the basin, there are two grave sites, Shambabay (900-400 BC) and Sampul-Lop (300 BC-100 AD) which are shown to be nearly 100% Med.

    Interestingly, Qawrighul, which is one of the older sites (2000-1500 BC) is shown to be 100% Proto-Europoid and another old site at Miran (3100 BC-300 AD) has a considerable Proto-Europoid showing at around 30%

    One more quote:

    "The Qawrighul remains are relatively homogenous and they exhibit features associated with a type known as Proto-Europoid, a rather robust Caucasoid, especially well represented in Northern Europe and the steppelands and forest steppe of Russia and the Ukraine."

    I can't help but wonder if this is some type of Nordic/UP blend or perhaps gracialized Nords...

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    Males had skulls 183mm long and 137.9mm wide (mesocranic, CI=75.4)

    They had small heads.
    .

    IHR Revisionist Conference, April 24, 2004, internet broadcast:

    http://www.internationalrevisionistconference.c om/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Allenson
    I've been interested in the Tarim mummies for a while now. It is a fascinating region especially for those of us interested in PIE and IE studies.

    I've read Mallory and Mair's book entitled "The Tarim Mummies" and there is a chapter about the physical and genetic makeup of the mummies in the various graves around the region. According to the Chinese physical anthropologist, Han Kangxin, there are four physical types found in the Tarim region: "Proto-Europoid", "Pamir-Ferghana", "Indo-Afghan" and of course "Mongoloid".

    Here's an interesting quote from Mallory in the book:

    "By now, the attentive reader will know we owe another caveat: the three physical types employed by Han Kangxin - Proto-Europoids, Indo-Afghans and Pamir-Ferghanans - are largely relabeled Nordics, Mediterraneans and Alpines, terms that send shivers of apprehension down the spines of Western biological anthropologists." LOL!!

    There is a map in the book that gives a breakdown of the physical types found in the Tarim, with each grave area given a 'pie-chart' showing approximate percentages of each. Indeed, Kroran is shown to have about 80% Med with the remainder being Mongoloid at around 200 AD. Alwighul is shown to be pretty evenly divided between the four types between 700-100 BC. Also, in the far western part of the basin, there are two grave sites, Shambabay (900-400 BC) and Sampul-Lop (300 BC-100 AD) which are shown to be nearly 100% Med.

    Interestingly, Qawrighul, which is one of the older sites (2000-1500 BC) is shown to be 100% Proto-Europoid and another old site at Miran (3100 BC-300 AD) has a considerable Proto-Europoid showing at around 30%

    One more quote:

    "The Qawrighul remains are relatively homogenous and they exhibit features associated with a type known as Proto-Europoid, a rather robust Caucasoid, especially well represented in Northern Europe and the steppelands and forest steppe of Russia and the Ukraine."

    I can't help but wonder if this is some type of Nordic/UP blend or perhaps gracialized Nords...


    Fascinating.

    Proto-Europoid, eh? That sounds like Kurganid to me.

    By extension, that sounds like northern European, or so called Nordid/UP blend.

    I will take this as more proof that the UP types of northern Europe have never been really seperated from Nordids. LOL

    But I may just be talking out of my ass. LOL

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    Quote Originally Posted by Polak
    Fascinating.

    Proto-Europoid, eh? That sounds like Kurganid to me.

    By extension, that sounds like northern European, or so called Nordid/UP blend.

    I will take this as more proof that the UP types of northern Europe have never been really seperated from Nordids. LOL

    But I may just be talking out of my ass. LOL

    He-he, I feel that way sometimes myself. Just jabbering on and on...

    Anyway, yeah, that's what the Chinese anthropologist called them. So, I'm a little confused Polak. Do you think maybe that the UPs and Nords (both east and west) are indeed of one 'stock' or that this notion is silly? I'm curious about this myself.

    I scanned an image from the book showing representatives of the three Europid sub-types mentioned. The top one is the "Proto-Euopoid" the middle, the "Pamir-Ferghana" and the bottom, the "Indo-Afghan". Here 'tis:

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    Quote Originally Posted by Allenson
    He-he, I feel that way sometimes myself. Just jabbering on and on...

    Anyway, yeah, that's what the Chinese anthropologist called them. So, I'm a little confused Polak. Do you think maybe that the UPs and Nords (both east and west) are indeed of one 'stock' or that this notion is silly? I'm curious about this myself.

    I scanned an image from the book showing representatives of the three Europid sub-types mentioned. The top one is the "Proto-Euopoid" the middle, the "Pamir-Ferghana" and the bottom, the "Indo-Afghan". Here 'tis:

    Ah yes, very good. Thanks for this information.

    Well, to elaborate, I can see some very clear patterns that somehow eluded people like Coon.

    It's obvious to me that the northern belt of the Caucasoids has always been more rugged, bigger, blonder, and more UP like. But there have also always been Nordid like types here, and even Nordid populations.

    The southern belt, however, has always been made up of more gracile, smaller Med types.

    And these two belts once stretched from Iberia to western China, quite clearly blending into each other along the way.

    Quite clearly, the so called Nordids, Meds and Alpines were never really seperated. And from what I have seen, there were always small numbers of, say, Alpines in almost purely Nordid populations. Even duirng the Iron Age in central Europe this was true.

    I'm inclined to even think that these three types are not really sub-races, but body types which are also seen in other races. So for instance, we might have Negroids who are longer headed and more gracile, as opposed to others who are much like Alpines - squat and round faced.

    Anyway, like I said, this is great info.

    It really puts pay to the idea the Europe was inhabited by UP types and then colonised by Nordics.

    If that is true, then what are Nordid/UP and Alpine types doing in China? Why aren't these mummies purely Nordid - extremely gracile and long headed?

    In fact, why aren't the Kurganids purely Nordid? They are also Corded/UP blends in most cases.

    And why are the longest headed Europeans now on the western fringes of Europe?

    It's all very complicated but starting to make some sort of sense. Maybe I'll have to sit down and think about it some more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Polak
    Well, to elaborate, I can see some very clear patterns that somehow eluded people like Coon.
    Maybe some phenotype characteristics of people changed since 1939. And I don't mean because of admixture, but because of the changed quality of life.

    It's obvious to me that the northern belt of the Caucasoids has always been more rugged, bigger, blonder, and more UP like. But there have also always been Nordid like types here, and even Nordid populations.
    Montenegrians are the biggest, most rugged and 50% fair, even though they ( we ) don't share too much DNA with Slavs. I think Coon might have had a good idea about our unknown UP blend, plus natural selection.

    The southern belt, however, has always been made up of more gracile, smaller Med types.
    Again, depends very much on locality.





    It really puts pay to the idea the Europe was inhabited by UP types and then colonised by Nordics.
    I think Europe was colonized by something resembling today's Nordics, but with darker complexion.

    If that is true, then what are Nordid/UP and Alpine types doing in China? Why aren't these mummies purely Nordid - extremely gracile and long headed?
    Both originated in Asia, had horses and iron, were extremely mobile.

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    Montenegrians are the biggest, most rugged and 50% fair, even though they ( we ) don't share too much DNA with Slavs. I think Coon might have had a good idea about our unknown UP blend, plus natural selection.

    Not sure what your point is.

    It's obvious that the Montenegrins belong to the northern Caucasoid belt, rather than the Med one.

    And yes, the smaller number of Nordid types suggets they are not all that close to the steppe people or the northwest Europeans. But they're still pretty close.

    They're just an isolated group of the northern, rugged Caucasoids that developed their own characteristics.

    The mountains in the region probably had something to do with that.

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    Post few years old

    Mystery of the mummies

    By Ellen O'Brien
    INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

    Four thousand years ago, a community lived in the Tarim Basin -- in what is now the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China -- in the heart of Asia.

    The Tarim Basin people thrived there for at least 1,500 years. There are indications that they survived as a culture even into the second century.

    Then they disappeared.

    Now their remains are being reclaimed from the sands, and the people of that extinct nation are challenging scientists and scholars to fathom who they may have been, and -- if an answer can be found -- where, in prehistory, they came from.

    According to sweeping physical evidence, they were not Chinese. They were not even Asian.

    They were Caucasian.

    For Victor Mair, a specialist in Chinese language and literature at the University of Pennsylvania, the naturally mummified bodies unearthed in the basin's Taklimakan Desert have become a passion.

    "The question is whether these people were there for a long, long time, or whether they migrated in from somewhere else," he said.

    Where did they come from, and why?

    Those questions also possess Dolkun Kamberi, a Uygur archaeologist who grew up in the region and has recovered several of the preserved corpses.

    Kamberi grew up hearing folk stories about non-Chinese people who had settled the region in some unrecorded time, and about foreign archaeologists who had found grave sites in the province during the last century.

    As a native Uygur, he has medium brown hair and non-Asian features; he believes the Tarim Basin people's history is his history.

    Some scholars believe the Tarim Basin people probably migrated through central Eurasia to the land that, centuries later, became known as the southern leg of the famous Silk Route linking East and West.

    But Kamberi believes the Tarim Basin people existed as a tribe in the region from time-before-time; he has discovered a single piece of human skull in the mountains near there that dates back a half-million years, he said.

    "We can't say anything about its ethnic background," Kamberi said of the skull fragment."But at least it gives us evidence that 500,000 years ago there were people there."

    Learning who the Tarim Basin's inhabitants might have been, he said, is "very important for writing Asian history, and world history. In my opinion, without that region, there would be no Asian history."

    For the last two years, Mair has been organizing an international conference on the Tarim Basin people. It will run from Friday through Sunday at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, hosting scholars from Europe, Asia and the United States. The Sunday afternoon session is open to the public.

    "I think it's premature to draw hard-and-fast conclusions as to who these people were, and what language they spoke . . . ," Mair said."Why I'm running this conference is to get as many people as I can . . . to come in and lay it all out."

    Still, Mair -- who saw the original collection of mummified corpses in 1987, at the region's provincial museum -- will never forget his own haunting first impression of them.

    The bodies, recovered from graveyards long overblown with sand, were exceptionally preserved by the dry climate and the salt deposits in which they had been buried.

    "I was thunderstruck. . . . I just stood there for a couple of hours. I almost thought it was some kind of hoax," he said."All of their bodies were completely intact. They just looked so alive."

    And with features so stunningly non-Asian.

    They were clearly the remains of a Caucasoid people, with dark blond or yellowish-brown hair, deep-set eyes, and long limbs.

    Among the corpses Mair saw that day were the mummies of a man and woman from a joint grave and an infant that had been buried nearby. All three had been discovered about 10 years earlier, by Kamberi and his colleagues.

    "So far, 100 bodies have been excavated . . . ," Kamberi said."I believe that in the next 100 years, the land of Central Asia will become an archaeologist's dream land."

    In fact, archaeologists have unearthed at least 1,000 more skeletons in the region, and countless sites remain unexcavated throughout the shifting desert sands, Kamberi said: The provincial government does not have enough money to house and protect all the ancient remains.

    In one grave, excavators discovered a saddle cover and a pair of trousers"with human on one leg -- one face had blue eyes," Kamberi said."On the other leg was a horse's body, with a human hat. It's some mystery we can find in the Greek mysteries -- a Greek tale.

    "All of them worshiped the sun. . . . We cannot tell if they worshiped the horse," he said."But they buried the horse -- not the whole horse each time, but the skull and a leg." Archaeologists don't know what that ritual symbolized.

    The early Tarim Basin people tended sheep and cattle and horses, practiced some form of farming, and wove intricately designed cloth from their sheep's wool. They dyed the woolen strands brilliant colors; they stamped careful patterns on the woolen felt they made by hand.

    They used wheels. They erected round houses and culled river reeds for house-thatch.

    They may have worshiped the bull as well as the sun.

    And they buried their dead with ritual and tenderness. The infant recovered by Kamberi had been buried with a leather "bottle" attached to a sheep's teat. Both the man and woman had been adorned on their faces with ochre symbols that archaeologists believe represented the sun.

    In some graves, Mongoloid and Caucasoid bodies were buried side-by-side. Other graves contained petrified rack of lamb -- complete with barbecue skewers. And in clothes materials, Mair said, some weaving techniques appear to be "so Celtic, it's mind-boggling."

    "What I'm not going to do is say what I think," Mair said of the three-day conference, which will include ancient-textile specialists and linguists as well as genetic scientists and scholars.

    "I consciously sought out people who have differing opinions. I don't want any gospel statements," he said.

    That attitude is probably the safest Mair could adopt: The ancient nation of the Tarim Basin is wrapped as much in controversy as it is in mystery.

    Writing about the desert excavation in the National Geographic magazine, Thomas B. Allen describes a Chinese government official pocketing a shard of pottery that contained a thumbprint -- and never mentioning the piece again -- after Allen indicated that an American forensic anthropologist might be able to determine from the print"if the potter was a white man."

    In an article Mair wrote for Archaeology magazine, he, himself, says: "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. Scholars have traditionally scoffed at these accounts, but it now seems that they may be accurate."

    Even the language that the Basin people may have spoken is in dispute. Did it come from Turkic roots -- which is the language of the Uygurs who have occupied the region for centuries -- or from Indo-European roots?

    In Archaeology, Mair writes of the mummies: "Judging from their physical appearance, which ranges from Chinese-looking Mongoloids to European- and Afghano-Persian-looking Caucasoids, substantial elements of the original population were absorbed by the Uygurs." As that happened, did the language of the earlier people die?

    The nation of 16 million Uygurs, who have lived in the region for 12 centuries, know that their first settlements absorbed an earlier group -- the Tocharians.

    The Tocharians spoke a language that was closer to German and Celtic than to less-distant Indo-Europeans.

    But beyond that, much of the Uygurs' history has been shrouded in folk tales and legends.

    In Chinese, Xinjiang means"new territory." Since the 1950s, about 6 million ethnic Chinese, known as Han, have settled in theXinjiang Uygur region.

    As an archaeologist, Kamberi feels compelled to unearth, literally, some knowledge of his Uygur ancestors -- before the Uygur culture is swallowed up completely by the Han Chinese culture.

    Mair became besotted with Asia as a Peace Corps volunteer in the mid-'60s; he has since become an expert in early Chinese vernacular manuscripts, and is editor of the Columbia Anthology of Traditional Chinese Literature.

    He invited Kamberi, who has taught at Columbia University and worked as special consultant to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, to spend a year at Penn as a visiting scholar, and to help organize the weekend conference.

    For both men, the conference is a collaboration driven by a sense of duty -- as well as an opportunity to reach beyond academia-laden seminar debates and establish the world-wide importance of the Tarim Basin excavations.

    Mair obtained permission from the Chinese government in 1993 to bring the Italian geneticist Paolo Francalucci with him into the Tarim Basin's archaeological fields.

    He speaks carefully about the research there. The Chinese government is scrupulous in overseeing its interests.

    But the questions that revolve around the Tarim Basin people are rippling outward, beyond the desert- and-mountain region where they originated, in a widening reach.

    Did these people emigrate to Asia in the cloudy period before the beginnings of what we call history? How far had they wandered? From southern Russia? From the Ukrainian steppes? From Iran? From Turkey? What links did they have to the Europeans so far to the west?

    Mair may not propound his own theories in public with a hammer or a drum. But surely, he has theories, and they have been simmering for years.

    He became determined to hunt down the Tarim Basin people's history in the early 1990s, after the frozen 4,000-year-old body of a man was found preserved in the Alps on the Austria-Italy border. That well-publicized discovery was just up the mountainside from the Austrian village where his grandfather had been born.

    When Mair speaks at the conference on Sunday, he said, he plans to bring with him, for display, three felt caps.

    One is from a village in southern China. Another is from his grandfather's Austrian village. The third is from the Tarim Basin.

    All three are identical, he said.

    Text 1996 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.
    Last edited by xa; Saturday, October 4th, 2003 at 02:39 AM.
    Dont tell me the moon is shining; show me the glimt of light on broken glass.
    Anton Chekhov

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    The mummy of a Caucasian woman in the Tarim Basin.
    Dont tell me the moon is shining; show me the glimt of light on broken glass.
    Anton Chekhov

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