The Tarim Mummies

The Tarim Mummies

Ancient China and the Mystery of the Earliest Peoples From the West

Book - 2000
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Lavishly illustrated and authoritatively written, The Tarim Mummies is the definitive account for general reader and scholar alike of one of the most extraordinary archaeological discoveries of recent times. Book jacket.
J. P. Mallory, archaeologist and leading authority on the Indo-Europeans, and Victor Mair, instigator of much of the recent research on the Tarim burials, describe the discovery of the enigmatic mummies, and reveal the latest attempts of Chinese and Western scientists to explain their origin and ethnic identity. The book examines the clues left by physical remains; their economy, technology and textiles (some of the mummies even wore tartans); and the later traces of the languages of the Tarim region. The trail ultimately leads to two major contenders: the Indo-Iranians, the masters of the Eurasian steppes who poured south into the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, India and China, and the Tocharians, the most elusive of the major branches of Indo-Europeans.
The best-preserved mummies in the world are not found in Egypt or Peru but in the museums of Xinjiang, the westernmost province of modern China. For thousands of years the occupants of the barren wastes and oases that would later become the Silk Road buried their dead in the desiccating sands of the Taklimakan, the second greatest desert on earth. This arid environment, preserving body and clothing, allows an unparalleled glimpse into the lives and appearance of a prehistoric people. While the mummies lie mute their faces eloquently challenge modern scholars to identify them. For these are not the faces of ancient Chinese but rather those of Indo-Europeans who settled in the Tarim Basin on the western rim of ancient China some four millennia ago, 2,000 years before West and East admitted each other's existence.
Publisher: London ; New York : Thames & Hudson, 2000.
ISBN: 9780500051016
Branch Call Number: 931 MALLORY
Characteristics: 352 p. : ill. (some col.), maps ; 27 cm.
Additional Contributors: Mair, Victor H. 1943-


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