In the early 1990s, the solidity of Asian origins was forever challenged. Already, in 1974, the vast tomb of China’s first emperor had been unearthed, featuring an entire army of terracotta soldiers individually carved and ornamented as if poised to follow the emperor into the afterlife. While the terracotta soldiers merely affirmed Chinese assumptions about their own origins, another discovery dating back to the first years of the 20th century, and eventually rediscovered nearly 100 years later, would prove damaging to the Chinese worldview.
In 1988, in a room in the Ürümchi Museum in Xinjiang, China, Professor Victor H. Mair of Pennsylvania University stumbled upon one of the greatest Chinese archaeological discoveries of all time: Caucasian mummies. Scattered across the desert sands of the Tarim Basin in present-day Xinjiang were mummies so different from the standard East Asian population that they indicated a history spurred on by visitors from the West. Their remains became known as “the Caucasian mummies of China” (also “the Tarim mummies”). They were so named because of their reddish-blond hair, Nordic facial features and European-style clothing.
The Chinese mummies present a unique problem to those who assume that the Chinese shared an isolated existence and an eternally uniform Asian population. The discovery of the Caucasian mummies prompts us to reevaluate our definition of the term “Asian” and what exactly is implied when we use that term. It is clear that “Asian” now refers to a more diverse population than ever before. In 2000 in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, a startling genetic revelation was made [Wang et al.]. According to the authors, ancestral populations in China “showed greater genetic similarity to present-day European populations than to present-day east Asian populations”. The geneticists revealed that over the past 2,500 years, a major biological transformation occurred in the Chinese population. Prior to this great change, an even more dramatic alteration occurred. So, the Chinese of today would contrast drastically with those of 9,000 years ago. As the Mongoloids increased in numbers, their migration displaced the native white Chinese population, pushing them across the continent into Russia and Europe.
In the late 1980s, Chinese archaeologists unearthed hundreds of Caucasian mummies along the western frontier of China. Many were over 7,000 years old, telling of a time when the pre-Aryans of Old Europe reigned in the West. Later, carbon-14 dating determined the exact age of the Chinese mummies, placing them at 3,500 years before the birth of Han Chinese civilisation. It is most likely that they are related to an Indo-European–speaking group of Caucasians known as the Tocharians [Baumer, p. 28]. These prehistoric Chinese remains were unknown to much of the outside world until a security breach led to their announcement in 1994.
Even though the discovery only officially came to light in the late 20th century, groups of yellow-bearded peoples from the steppes had been reviewed and discussed by many ancient scholars, and they were even mentioned in Roman sources. Pliny the Elder reported on an unusual description of the Seres (in the territories of northwestern China), made by an embassy from Ceylon to the Emperor Claudius, that these people “exceeded the ordinary human height, had flaxen hair, and blue eyes, and made an uncouth sort of noise by way of talking”, suggesting that they may be referring to the Tarim Basin’s ancient Caucasian populations.
Early Accounts of Mummies
From the beginning of the 20th century, many European explorers penetrated the western frontiers of China. They reported finding numerous ancient mummies with distinct Caucasian features dotting the Tarim Basin. Among these stalwart individuals was Sven Hedin, a modern-day Swedish explorer whose brash and relentless drive and wanderlust resembled the expeditionary leaders of his Norse forebears. Some of the notable historical figures who honoured him included Theodore Roosevelt, Paul von Hindenburg, and even Adolf Hitler in 1936, 1939 and 1940. Other noteworthy explorers who blazed the trail of ultimate discovery included German archaeologist and ethnologist Albert von Le Coq and the Hungarian-British archaeologist Sir Marc Aurel Stein, whose investigations produced one of the first known photographs of a Tarim mummy in 1910. Neither Hedin nor Stein fully understood the ultimate historical and evolutionary significance of their discoveries. Another famed explorer of the early 20th century was Sven Hedin’s Swedish countryman, Folke Bergman, who also added much to our early knowledge of the Tarim Basin. He succeeded in giving one of the very first descriptions of the Lop Desert and the many graves he visited. Bergman remains a significant figure in the quest to understand further the significance of the Tarim Basin in the story of the human race. In his 1927–35 expedition history, he wrote:
…As one approaches the hill, the top of it seems to be covered by a whole forest of upright toghraq trunks but standing too close together to be dead trees. They were presently found to be erect posts with the tops splintered by the strong winds… “On the surface of the hill, particularly on the slopes, there were a lot of strange, curved, heavy planks, and everywhere one stumbled across withered human bones, scattered skeletons, remains of dismembered mummies, and rags of thick woollen materials… Some of the mummies had long, dark hair and well preserved faces. From others a ghastly-looking skull grinned out of a partly preserved blackened skin” [Bergman, p. 61]. Of one female mummy, whose face was “marvellously well preserved, though the body was much decayed”, he noted: “…On the dark-brown flowing hair, parted in the middle, she wore a head-dress of yellow felt, pointed and adorned with three red cords and the split skin of an ermine. Her brow was high and noble, she had a fine aquiline nose and thin lips, slightly parted and showing a glimpse of the teeth in a quiet, timeless smile” [Bergman, p. 74].
A Forgotten People
There were several other Late Bronze Age burials scattered in and around the Tarim Basin region. Among them there included the gravesites at Bozdong, AqsuKonashadar County, near the northwestern edge of the Tarim Basin, which were first unearthed in 1985 under much secrecy. Dr Shui Tao, from Nanjing University, explained:
One of the tombs, M41, is an oval-shaped grave with a mound of stone on the ground above it. In the grave, about twenty skeletons consisting of 8 males, 11 females, and 1 child were placed in confused positions. Grave goods include pottery, bronze, iron, bone, stone, and golden wares. The pottery includes bowls with round bottoms, cups with handles, and teapots with handles and spouts. All of the pottery is shaped by hand and has no decorations on the surface. Bronze objects are mainly ornaments, consisting of buttons, bells, and pendants. Iron objects are small tools and weapons. They include knives, arrowheads, nails, and band hooks. Bronze objects are mostly pendants, as well as ornaments and the like” [Tao].
In addition to continued reports of out-of-place mummies and forgotten populations of Caucasian nomads, Frenchman Ferdinand Grenard, between 1891 and 1893, concluded that the original inhabitants of the Tarim Basin were Caucasian [Baumer, p. 21]. According to conventional wisdom, there were two main waves of IndoEuropean migration into the Tarim Basin, Mongolia and the west of China. The first is the aforementioned Tocharian wave, which is divided into two groups, Tocharian A and Tocharian B. The first entrance into Central Asia is supposed to have occurred between 3500 and 2000 BCE. The second wave of immigration is thought to have happened around 1150 BCE and lasted for several centuries, concluding in 900 BCE at the beginning of the Central Asian Iron Age [Baumer, p. 29]. These later immigrants are identified as a Northern Persian group known as the Saka. Near the Qäwrighul cemetery, at a place called the Ördeck necropolis, numerous Saka or Indo-Iranian tombs have been found. “One of the most important sites of the later Bronze Age is Zaghunluq” [Baumer, p. 29]. Evidence found in these tombs, including grave offerings and human remains mixed with animal remains, indicates that these people practised both agriculture and pastoralism and lived some time between 1200 and 700 BCE. According to archaeologist Dr Jeannine Davis-Kimball:
From the Yanbulaq cemetery burials in shaft graves, the deceased was often placed on a wooden platform with a reed mat. Rich and diverse offerings that parallel the early nomadic inventory from the Eurasian steppes include arrowheads, plain mirrors, astragals, (cowry) shells, earrings, beads…bronze…iron, bone, agate and felt” [Davis-Kimball, p. 243].
Christoph Baumer made further speculation as to the ethnic heritage of these early displaced European peoples. In his view, it is possible that persons of Tibetan stock, the Qiang, migrated to Xinjiang. In Central China, inscribed on oracle bones of Yin princes from 1200 BCE, there is clear evidence of Qiang occupancy.
Since the western Qiang in those days lived in Gansu and western Qinghai in the north-east of Tibet, both bordering on the Tarim Basin, it may be supposed that Qiang Tibetans migrated to Chinese Turkestan. The morphological analysis of Zaghunluk skulls permits the conjecture that in the north-western Tarim Basin a certain intermixture had taken place between the Saka, the Tocharians and the Qiang” [Baumer, p. 30].
Ancient Chinese texts identified a group of people known as the Wusun and the Yuezhi. There is much documented about their dealings throughout the Tarim Basin and Outer Mongolia as well as in the Central Asian state of Bactria. They were depicted as treacherous, yellow-haired barbarians with a propensity for destruction. In his monumental and controversial work, The Passing of the Great Race, Madison Grant said the following with regard to this people:
These tall, blue eyed, Aryan-speaking Sacae were the most easterly members of the Nordic race of whom we have record. The Chinese knew well these ‘green eyed devils’, whom they called by their Tatar name, the ‘Wu-suns’, the tall ones, and with whom they came into contact in about 200 B.C. in what is now Chinese Turkestan. The Zendic form of the Iranian group of Aryan languages continued to be spoken by these Sacae who remained in old Bactria, and from it is derived a whole group of closely related dialects still spoken in the Pamirs, of which Ghalcha is the best known” [Grant, p. 115].
These early reports merely precipitated future revelations made by scholars and explorers alike. Some of these later discoveries were made by such stalwart individuals as Russian explorer Pytor Kuzmich Koslov (1863–1936). He explored the region of Western China in an effort to enter the sacred Tibetan city of Lhasa and meet the Dalai Lama, a goal he inevitably achieved. This apparent success eventually led to additional excavations that he, himself, organised. Among some of the noteworthy sites was Khara-Khoto, highlighted by the unearthing of a tomb 50 feet beneath the ruins in which he found the body of a mummified queen “accompanied by various sceptres, wrought in gold, and other metals” [Coppens]. Koslov was permitted to take a considerable number of photographs that were later published in American Weekly, but in this instance he was not permitted to disturb the site further or remove any of its contents, specifically the body. He continued onwards with a series of significant expeditions from 1923 to 1926, culminating in the discovery of Xiongnu royal burials at Noin-Ula [Coppens].
Characteristics of the Tarim Mummies For over seven decades, virtually unknown to the West, numerous mummies and desiccated corpses with Caucasian ethnic traits have been unearthed at key locations throughout the region. In turn, they have been removed from their tombs, analysed and displayed at the various Xinjiang museums, including the one at Ürümchi, the current resting place for Chärchän Man and the Loulan Beauty. These “…corpses did not originally undergo any special process of mummification prior to inhumation. Their remarkable condition may be attributed to such factors as the region’s aridity, the salinity of its soil, extreme winter cold, and also temperatures which vary greatly between day and night” [Kamberi].
Many of these distinctly anomalous “western” bodies are now available for study by archaeologists, even non-Chinese scholars, which is only a recent development. Indeed, Han Chinese scholars have suppressed the knowledge of their existence in the outside world, much to the chagrin of international academia. The mummies share many typical Europoid or Caucasoid body features (e.g., elongated bodies, angular faces and recessed eyes), and many of them have their hair physically intact. Their hair ranges in colour from blond to red to deep brown, and it is generally long, curly and braided. It is not known whether their hair had been bleached by internment in salt. Their costumes, and especially the textiles, may indicate a common origin with Indo-European Neolithic clothing techniques or a low-level textile technology [“Tarim Mummies”].
Also seeking answers to this ancient riddle was an American team headed by Dr Victor Mair, Professor of Chinese Language and Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, and a group of his colleagues, including Dr Jeannine Davis-Kimball, Executive Director at the Center for the Study of Eurasian Nomads [Mallory and Mair]. One of the main purposes of this team’s exploration of the Xinjiang region was to investigate fully the already excavated and studied remains that the Red Chinese had denied western scholars access to. These finds were housed in a number of museums all around the region. Each museum was another piece of the puzzle, and the mummies varied from decomposed, almost entirely skeletal, to being immaculately preserved. In the Korla Museum, there was a 20-year-old maiden lying half-covered in a thin, orange-brown dress drenched in blood. Her face still remained distorted with agony and she had “bitten her tongue”. She appeared to have been sacrificed. Her eyes were gouged out, her limbs had been ripped out and placed directly under her pelvis, and her arms above her elbows were gone. As grisly as this mummy was, the miraculous nature of what was about to be seen next was truly extraordinary.
When the American researchers arrived at their next destination, the Ürümchi Museum, they were waved into a large chamber filled with rows of mummies, some looking as if they had died within the past 48 hours, others seriously deformed or in a state of advanced decomposition. Some appeared to be Mongolian, perhaps the ancestors of Genghis Khan, but others, as shocking as it might seem, were clearly western, dating as far back as 4,000 years before present (BP) [Barber, p. 44]. The red-haired Chärchän Man, dubbed “Ur-David”, bore the indelible stamp of the West in terms of both his ethnicity and his beautifully coloured leggings and clothing, the earliest examples of such clothes in known history. Included among Chärchän Man’s apparent clan was a small child no older than a year; he was found nearby with his mouth open and hands clenched, and with remnants of mucus and tears. His cause of death remains inconclusive. Wisps of blond Nordic hair can be seen peeking from beneath the rim of a red and blue felt cap, and, echoing ancient Greek tradition (see Homer), blue stones in place of the eyes as part of an obvious death-ritual in preparation to meet the gods in paradise. Their clothing seemed reminiscent of that worn by the Celtic tribes of the British Isles and Gaul. Among the styles there were the unmistakable plaid tunics. Textile expert Dr Elizabeth Wayland Barber noted that although it was once thought that the Scots only adopted plaid twill fabric relatively recently, it is now clear that the Celts and the Western European Grooved Ware culture before them had been using the stylised fabric for thousands of years. Their use by the Tarim Basin people speaks of a European and even a Proto-Celtic origin.
Some speculation might lead to the assumption that this was a story of a reverse migration, and that the Celts can trace ancestry to Central Asia instead of Central Europe. Whatever the real pattern of migration, “[t]he dominant weave [of the Ürümchi people] proved to be normal diagonal twill and the chief decoration was plaid, as in the woollen twill material of a Scottish kilt” [Barber, from Knight and Lomas, p. 362]. Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas ended their speculation by writing:
These European settlers used a woven-wool textile technology, and Barber comments that woolly sheep with a coat suitable for making woollen yarn did not appear in Europe until 4000 BCE. When a first sample of organic material was sent from the graves of the mummies to Nanjing University it was dated to 4500 BC, but then Beijing University dated a sample of carbon to roughly 2000 BCE” [Knight and Lomas, pp. 362-3].
There was another mummy with clear Caucasian traits: a 40-year-old, brown-haired woman. Mu Shun Ying, the team leader of the original Chinese expedition that found her, was impressed by her immaculate state. She called her the “Loulan Beauty”, since her appearance seemed beautiful even in death. In fact, many of the mummies of the Tarim Basin exhibited an equal prettiness. Radiocarbon dating set this mummy at around 3,800 years old. Found in close proximity to the “Beauty” was another mummy in a tomb constructed from wood. Radiocarbon dating on the materials used to construct the tomb placed its origins as early as 6,000 years BP [Barber, p. 132]. Removed from the same tomb as the two others was the honoured mistress of the tomb, clearly of IndoEuropean origin: tall with a high, long-nosed narrow visage and blonde hair. “She must have been a real beauty when she was alive,” said He, one of the archaeologists who initially worked on her. Her long blonde hair, almost perfectly preserved, caressed her narrow shoulders and ran downward towards the middle of her chest. She had been rescued from an ancient burial site in 1978 by Chinese archaeologist Wang Binghua at Qizilchoqa, east of Ürümchi, which is the capital city of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region [Barber, p. 93]. As with the other mummies consigned to the dusty reaches of the Xinjiang museum, the anomalous nature of the once-glorious blonde woman led to this discovery being intentionally “buried” for almost 20 years [NOVA].
Also presented to the team was a far later relic, known as the “Hami Mummy”. It was dated to around 1400 to 800 BCE and had a distinctive head of red hair. Still another group, known as the “Witches of Subeshi”, managed to turn a number of heads upon their display. Dr Barber commented in amazement about the bonechilling scene and its apparent mythological implications:
Yet another female—her skeleton found beside the remains of a man—still wore a terrifically tall, conical hat, just like those we depict on witches riding broomsticks at Halloween or on medieval wizards intent on their magical spells. And that resemblance, strange to say, may be no accident. Our witches and wizards got their tall, pointy hats from just where we also got the words magician and magic, namely, Persia. The Persian or Iranian word Magus (cognate with the English might, mighty) denoted a priest or sage, of the Zoroastrian religion in particular. Most distinguished themselves with high hats; they also possessed knowledge of astronomy, astrology, and medicine, of how to control winds and the weather by potent magic and how to contact the spirit world” [Barber, from Knight and Lomas, p. 359].
One collection of mummies, found at the settlement of Qäwrighul and dated to 1800 BCE, is of a Caucasoid physical type whose closest affiliation is with Bronze Age populations of Kazakhstan and the Lower Volga region [Mallory and Mair, p. 237]. The cemetery at Yanbulaq contained 29 mummies dating from 1100 to 500 BCE, 21 of which are Mongoloid—the earliest Mongoloid mummies found in the Tarim Basin—and eight of which are of the same Caucasoid physical type as those found at Qäwrighul [“Tarim Mummies”]. This is where the oldest remains have been found thus far.
Migration Speculation In March 2010, the archaeological community was stunned by the discovery of yet another Caucasian skeleton, this time in Mongolia. DNA extracted from this individual’s bones confirmed a direct genetic link to the West. In essence, these remains are clearly European, if not Western Eurasian. This time, however, the ancient corpse was a much younger find, dated to around the first century CE, about 2,000 years ago [Bower]. The date of western arrival or habitation of China and East Asia is continually being pushed back in time to an even earlier date. The origin of some Caucasian mummies can be traced back to some 6,000 years B , some even older.
But this above-mentioned unique specimen is no less significant in our quest to understand the truth surrounding the lost Caucasian culture. This individual was placed in high regard as a major player in Mongolia’s Xiongnu Empire, an ancient state that is now believed to have been a multi-ethnic melting pot of former Eurasian nomads. This conglomeration of foreign tongues and non-Mongoloid races no doubt consisted of a large number of IndoEuropean–speaking peoples [Bower]. By and large, the Caucasian mummies of China and other similar finds around the region have only fuelled more speculation concerning Lithuanian-American archaeologist Marija Gimbutas’s Kurgan hypothesis. For example, Gimbutas’s hypothesis is that “Indo-European languages proliferated via several waves of expansion and conquest by nomads known as Kurgans who had domesticated horses and thus could travel long distances. In this scenario, Kurgans left a homeland north of the Black Sea, in what is now Russia, around 6,400 years ago.”
Another archaeologist and IndoEuropeanist, Colin Renfrew, holds that “farmers from ancient Turkey spread IndoEuropean tongues as they swallowed up one parcel of land after another, beginning around 9,000 years ago” [Gimbutas]. The argument for the Kurgan hypothesis was the discovery of large wheels found among the hundreds of blond mummies which were spread from the Pontic steppe to the western frontiers of China and then onwards to the Gobi Desert and the plains of Mongolia. The mystery of the Caucasian mummies persists. Their discovery, their analysis and their links to the historical and folkloric record continue to guide us towards a greater understanding of mankind’s primordial age. The evolution of these ancient peoples, while elusive at best, is becoming ever more transparent and accessible.
Authors Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas suggested that the people of the Tarim Basin were the Grooved Ware culture of Western and Central Europe, but they made the mistake of linking the Grooved Ware people with those described in the Book of Enoch and the Old Testament as “giants”. According to Knight and Lomas, they migrated to Central Asia in search of “high ground” to escape the Great Cataclysm foretold to them: “All the mysteries had not yet been revealed to you… You have no peace… behold, destruction is coming, a great flood, and it will destroy all” [Knight and Lomas, p. 357]. This is a purely mythological explanation; it is not to be interpreted as science. Furthermore, this link between the offspring of the “Watchers” and archaeologically verifiable European culture is less than convincing. The idea that the Tarim mummies are related to the Grooved Ware culture is scientifically viable.
It is clear from both the historical and archaeological records that Asia was once home to a lost tribe—an indigenous and racially dominant Caucasian population. East Asian ethnicity, as it is known today, is relatively recent. There is even stronger evidence suggesting that the native Caucasoid peoples intermarried with the later Mongoloid cultures advancing from Siberia. Yet evidence for this only emerges in the physical and genetic record around 900 BCE, the dawning of the Central Asian Iron Age. A. C. Haddon, in his classic work The Wanderings of Peoples, affirmed that ancient China was directly influenced by a possibly Indo-European–speaking ProtoNordic presence during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. Colin Renfrew, one of the pre-eminent IndoEuropeanists, suggested that, linguistically, the inhabitants of the Tarim Basin developed from an early group of Pre-Proto-Indo-Europeans that emerged from Anatolia in 7000 BCE. Indeed, Han Kangxin even stated that they were related to the CroMagnons [Kangxin, p. 6], although others disagree.
Some share the opinion that it was the European races, rather than the Asiatic ones, that led to the establishment of early Chinese civilisation. It is evident that there was an ethnic migration of Tocharians from Central Europe, possibly from the lower Danube River Basin, through Caucasia, Russia and the Pontic steppe, reaching the borders of China in 800 BCE. In 1951, German archaeologist Robert Heine-Geldern showed similarities of metallurgy in Europe and China around 800 BCE:
The early swords of China (9th and 8th centuries B.C.), several daggers of the Dongson culture of northeastern Indo-China, as well as various Far Eastern designs correspond closely to those of the fifth period of the Bronze Age of northern Europe. This can only be due to the participation in the eastward migration of a group of those Scandinavians who, as Tallgren…has shown, settled on the Volga around 800 B.C. The very conspicuous elements of the Hallstatt culture in the Far East would seem to correspond to the relation between the Tokharian and Illyrian languages which Sapir thought to have existed” [Heine-Geldern, p. 890]. Socketed battle-axes and spearheads used in abundance in early China were compared to those of Hallstatt and the Indo-European homeland, indicating that they were brought there by nomadic Indo Europeans some 3,000 years prior. It has also been claimed that “European influence may have been an important factor in the unification of the Chinese states and the establishment of the first centralized Chinese empire by Ch’in Shih Huang Ti in…221 BC” [Deavin].
Horses, Wagons and Chariots Now many scholars’ once-disputed theories are being exonerated. Dr David W. Anthony, an anthropologist at Hartwick College, New York, linked the awesome migration patterns of the Indo-European race to the invention of wheeled wagons [Deavin]. These were used to great effectiveness by steppe cultures such as the Andronovo and Afanasevo. The latter, according to Anthony, was the race that proved a direct link to the Tocharians of the Tarim Basin. In The Horse, the Wheel, and Language, Anthony wrote:
Mallory and Mair have argued at book length that the Afanasievo [sic] migration detached the Tocharian branch from Proto-IndoEuropean. A material bridge between the Afanasievo culture and the Tarim Basin Tocharians could be represented by the long-known but recently famous Late Bronze Age Europoid ‘mummies’…found in the northern Taklamakan Desert, the oldest of which are dated 1800–1200 BCE… If Mallory and Mair were right, as seems likely, late Afanasievo pastoralists were among the first to take their herds from the Altai southward into the Tien Shan; and after 2000 BCE their descendants crossed the Tien Shan into the northern oases of the Tarim Basin” [Anthony, p. 311].
Paramount in this evolutionary migration was the utilisation and mastery of first the horse, and then the wagon and, finally, the chariot. Like their Tocharian predecessors, later Eurasian nomads such as the Alans, Huns and Tatars of the Golden Horde or the Mongols also perfected the use of the horse as an innovation of culture and warfare. “Horses played a prominent role in the economy of the Huns. Although our authorities do not mention that the Huns ate horse meat—perhaps because this went without saying—they certainly did, like the Scythians, Sarmatians, and other steppe peoples” [MaenchenHelfen, p. 220]. Records also say that “the Huns, too, drank the blood of their horses” [Maenchen-Helfen, p. 220]. The Roman writer Ammianus commented that while undergoing negotiations with the Romans, the leaders of the Huns remained mounted on their horses [Maenchen-Helfen, p. 203]. These later cultures also cast light on the development of wheeled wagons, in reverse fashion:
On their migration to the Don and from the Don to the Danube, the Huns probably transported their old people, women, and children in wagons. Toy wagons found in Kerch show what the wagons of the later Sarmatians looked like. Some have pyramidal towers, doubtless movable tents; others are heavy fourwheeled vehicles. The wagons of the Huns must have been similar to the toy wagons from Panticapaeum” [Maenchen-Helfen, pp. 219-20].
Extensive excavations in southern Russia and Kazakhstan have revealed 5,000-year-old burial mounds containing traces of numerous wagon wheels. Not only were such artefacts found in Eastern Europe, but also in the Gobi Desert that lies on the northeastern border with the Tarim Basin [Deavin]. It is now accepted by almost all 21st-century archaeologists that the birthplace of mounted culture was in Ukraine, thus entirely discrediting earlier assertions that identified horse-riding and the chariot as originating in China or the Middle East.
Evidence from Genetics
These mummies are a link not only to the human past but also to the evolution of Chinese and eastern culture, just as much to that of western culture. It is not the story of one culture overtaking the next, but rather a West–East synthesis. Regardless of invasion, colonisation and total oppression, the mere contact of two distinct peoples can have ramifications beyond imagination. In support of the mummies’ distinctive European appearance, subsequent DNA testing proved their Caucasian origin. As many more corpses were unearthed, it became evident that the original inhabitants of the region, far from being Mongoloid, were actually the descendants of a once-dominant Caucasian population. A number of samplings from later mummies indicated that not only do these bodies have a direct genetic link to Western Europe, and even to the Pontic steppe around the Black Sea, but they also show traces of inbreeding with other tribes ranging from Mesopotamia, the Eastern Mediterranean and India. Indeed, the Tarim Basin could be considered a major thoroughfare for many of Eurasia’s Caucasoid peoples. But most importantly, these findings indicate a genetic population far older than even the Mesopotamian or Bactrian cultures, and far older than the European or Indian cultures. Indeed, they are a possible link to a once-dominant Caucasian population that at one time inhabited much of the Earth. Considering these revelations to be true, the history of East Asia and the world now has to be rewritten. Victor Mair noted that the Qäwrighul (Gumugou), Qaradowa (Wupu) and Zaghunluq people of ancient Xinjiang, with their “deep-set blue or green eyes, long noses, full beards, and red or blond hair”, may be of Nordic extraction [Mair, p. 30]. He also thought that some of the Xinjiang Indo-Europeans may have been related to the Scythians and the blond-haired Ossetes.
Despite the emerging identity of the Xinjiang people, the location of their homeland is still unclear. Europe? The Pontic steppe? Why not local? Between 7000 and 1500 BCE, could this ancient race have originated not from abroad but from a group of peoples inhabiting that region of Central Asia since their initial emergence in far antiquity? This primaeval region of the world could now be considered the original homeland of the race that would eventually colonise Western Europe and transport European genes throughout the world. The Vedic record known as the Book of Manu, or Laws of Manu, states that the “Uighers had settlements on the northern and eastern shores of the Caspian Sea” [Coppens]. Others have theorised that there was something more significant here than just early contact between East and West. For instance, the noted German anthropologist Max Müller stated over a century ago that “the first Caucasians were a small company from the mountains of Central Asia” [Coppens]. It is clear that something unusual is linked to these ancient peoples, as there is widespread evidence of anomalous Caucasian-like peoples appearing in remote corners of the world—regions thought to be untouched by European and western influence.