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The Tocharians: Aryan mummies in western China

PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 1:48 pm
by icelander93
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.

Mummies of "Tomb 2"
The first Tocharian Nordic mummy found in 1989: a White female with long blond hair, finely preserved by the arid desert atmosphere of the Taklamakan desert. Based on her partially dismembered limbs and gouged out eyes, archaeologists believe she was a sacrificial victim.
This mummified boy, approximately one-year-old, was found in the same grave. He, too, is believed to have been a sacrificial victim who was buried alive.
A Tocharian female mummy with long flaxen blond hair, 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.

Mummies from the Wupu cemetery
This mummy of an 18 to 20 year old woman is on display at a museum in Khumul. Her features, particularly her overbite, indicate Caucasian heritage.

A Tocharian man with red-blond hair; 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)
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, 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.

“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.


Traditional history have long told us that these Tocharians were “Indo-Iranian". But, what does that mean?

During the first years of this millennium the first Tarim body was tested on MtDNA, paralell to a test of a few skeletons of Central Asian Scythes. The results did not surprise but prove anthropologic similarities.

The Tocharian mummies proved to belong to the very same population who spread haplogroup R1a1 all over Eurasia, from western Norway to Mongolia. Thus we may check out the modern Caucasoid populations that carry R1a1 to compare to the plausible outlook of the “Beuty of Korlan”. The difference from the Indo-Iranian populations of today are obvious, probably due to the admixture of Persians and Asians/Indians during the middle and later Bronze Age.

The haplogroup Rb are a major marker in northern Europe and Asia. The western populations (“Celts”, “Goths”, etc) carry R1b, thus called “The Atlantic Modal haplotype”. Meanwhile, the eastern population(s) have developed a variation defined as Ra1a, which may mark the “Uralic Modal haplotype” (Finns, etc.). One final repport on the Schyto-Siberian skeletons concluded;

The probability of observing an individual with the Kizil [Scythian] skeleton STR profile was the highest in the two eastern European populations (Russia and Poland). Indeed, the likelihood that the Kizil skeleton STR profile occurred in these two populations was 10 times higher than in other European populations [194 Austrians and 155 Bavarians, 115 Galicians, 110 northern Portuguese, and 143 Greeks], 100 times higher than in eastern Asian populations, and about 100,000 times higher than in Indian populations.

(Francois Ricaut; "Genetic Analysis of a Scytho-Siberian Skeleton and Its Implications for Ancient Central Asian Migrations" Human Biology - Volume 76, Number 1, February 2004, pp. 109-125)

Note; Uygurs of Kazachstan have not more then 10% of R1b.
(Tatiana Zerjal, et al; “A Genetic Landscape Reshaped by Recent Events: Y-Chromosomal Insights into Central Asia”) ... pean4.html


Assigning Tocharian to its proper place in the Indo-European family has turned out to be anything but straightforward. For one thing, it is a centum language and shows no particular similarity to its Indo-Iranian neighbors. An alternative possibility has been suggested on the basis of the magnificant mummies of Urumchi, which are found in the same area as the Tocharian writings but date back as far as 2000 BC. The people whose bodies were preserved by the dry desert sands were clearly European in origin, as shown by their physical appearance, by their DNA, and even by the textiles they wore. Because of their fair hair and their fondness for plaids, it is thought by some that they were closely related to the Celts of Europe.”

The Tokarian discoveries have fueled the debate about the etnicity of the indigenous population(s) of the Russian/Caucasian and Uralian lowland. Because these Tocharians could look like present Europeans AND like Modern-Day Iranians. So what could it be?


"There is evidence both from mummies and Chinese writings that many of them had blond or red hair and blue eyes. This suggests the possibility that they were part of an early Indo-European migration that ended in what is now the Tarim Basin in western China.

"Textile analysis has shown similarities to the Iron Age civilizations of Europe. One of the unusual finds with one of the mummies was a classical "witch's hat", which was worn by the witches of European myth, suggesting very ancient Indo-European roots for this tradition. Women also wore the same kind of skirts as have been found preserved in graves from the Nordic Bronze Age. ... arians.htm


Which seems to explain that the fair hair of these mummies isn’t a trick of the desert sand. Ancient Chinese litterature is said to contain contemporary descriptions and paintings of these North-Western neighbours. Here they are portrayed as fair-haired and blue-eyed. But what is the modern expert’s take on the “looks” of the Tocharians?

Dr. Victor Mair have studied the ancient populations of North-East Asia over the last two decades. Thus he jumped into action when the Chinese finally allowed western scientists to investigate the sites. In his book "The Tarim Mummies" he notes;

“What truly astonished me to a personal level - was Charchan man’s hair and face. The mummy’s hair was ginger-colored, and his face bearded with typical Caucasian features." As Mair observed, “He looked like my brother Dave sleeping there”. Dr. Mair’s parents are from Austria…


The Italian genetician Paolo Francalacci finally got enough mtDNA out of the mummies to tell something about their genetic basics. He concluded that the mummies were certainly Europeans, adding that Euros were a “very homogeneous actually."

Heather Pringle in her article “The Curse of the Redheaded Mummies,” adds: “For months the Italian geneticist laboured on the mummy samples, trying to extract enough dna for sequencing. The nucleic acids had badly degraded, but still, Francalacci kept trying various methods, and in 1995 he called Mair with a piece of good news. He had finally retrieved enough dna to sequence, and his preliminary results were intriguing. The two Xinjiang mummies belonged to the same genetic lineage as most modern-day Swedes, Finns and Tuscans.”


DNA evidence says that Tokarian was not like "Indo-Iranian”, but "European". Both modern and ancient sources are (now) describing them as blond-haired and blue-eyed. Their clothes and their weaving patterns were European - identical to the style (“fashion”?!), the colorfing AND the weaving techniques known from the "Nordic Bronze Age" cultures in Northern Europe. Some references say they wore Kilts, had tartan-patterned clothing and "witch's hats" – yet another parallel from what appear in the European bronze-age culture.



Southern Tuscany in Sforza's genetic maps presents odd values that are considered by Sforza the trace of the remains of the Etruski, a population of dubious origin. Mythically the Etruscans are originating from “Troy”, while the old Greek historians pointed towards “northern Anatolia” (Caucasus) as the place of their origin.

Today’s display of the genetic substratum of Northern Italy may very well prove that there is an ancient link between BOTH the Etruscans and the Tocharians - and the most ancient population of the present Europeans - which is the Scandinavians or Finns.