Friday, March 25, 2005

The Tocharian Mummies

OK, so Fisky blogged on this subject nearly a year ago. And the most comprehensive site may have an agenda (although of course a site called Black History would raise no eyebrows. So are we conditioned).

But what a story.

In a remote part of Western China archaelogists have found not only evidence of an extinct Indo-European language, Tocharian, but the mummified remains, up to 4,000 years old, of the Indo-Europeans themselves.

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They were some of the earliest horsemen known to history. They seem to have practiced ritual sacrifice (the fate of the poor toddler, his tears still preserved, isn't very nice), although later becoming Buddhists. They wore woollen plaids and tartans. Blonde or red hair, plaited.

I'm not competent to judge the more grandiose claims of the White History site - that a great Indo-European civilisation existed along the Silk Road which may have provided China with Buddhism and its early Emperors - ethnologists and linguists can argue it out (try following this), but the story is fascinating. If they can just find the Chinese Romans it would be the icing on the cake.

Source -

One down note. The area where these discoveries have been made, not so far (on Chinese scales) from the Kirghiz, Kazakh and Tajik borders of China, is neither ethnically nor culturally Chinese. Rather like, say, Tibet 50 years ago. Islam is influential and there has been unrest. China will be keeping a nervous eye on what's happening just across the border in Kirghistan.

Given these factors and traditional Chinese chauvinism, evidence that the indigenous population are descended in part from an ancient Western stock would not exactly be the happiest news in the Chinese capital. And as for the thought that the great Chinese Empire may have been, even in part, created by roundeyes ...

So the mummies, many of which are apparently slowly deteriorating in storage, may not be priority number one when the Chinese Arts Council are handing out the grants.

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