The official view of the Chinese that their culture developed independently of foreign influences could now be f altering. A new find of mummies in Central Asia proves the presence of people with pronounced European traits in historical times. Chinese scientists found amazingly well-preserved mummies ranging in age from 2,400 to 4,000 years in the Central Asian desert near the Silk Road. The effects of extreme summer heat and drought, the harsh cold of local winters and the high s alt content of the soil have meant that the bodies still appear amazingly lifelike. The clothes were also almost completely preserved.
The biggest surprise, however, is in the appearance and the way of dressing: both do not correspond to what is known of the Chinese of that time. The mummies show distinct European features, such as blond or red hair and beards.
The question arises as to what these people have been doing so far from their homeland and what has become of them and their isolated civilization over the centuries. Professor Victor Mair, an expert in early Chinese history at the University of Pennsylvania, is now investigating the traces of the Tocharians, the likely successors of the people found mummified. These people left behind a written language that is clearly of Indo-European origin. Also, their cave paintings depict vaguely Celtic-looking people worshiping a Buddha. According to the scientist, this is a sign of the multicultural aspects of this society, which moves on the border between East and West.
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