No. 95: Sep-Oct 1994
Authorities on ancient Chinese civilization have usually considered it to have been completely isolated from European influences for millennia -- a homegrown culture characterized by unique cultural and technological innovations. This classical picture of ancient China will have to be modified after the recent unearthing of mummified Caucasians up to 4,000 years old in China's northwestern province of Xinjiang. These dried corpses have the long noses, deep-set eyes, and long skulls typical of Caucasians. Some even have blonde hair! Some 113 such corpses have already been excavated at Qizilchoqa, one of four sites discovered so far. It is clear that we are dealing with permanent settlements and not merely a few lost Europeans.
"Besides the riddle of their identity, there is also the question of what these fair-haired people were doing in a remote desert oasis. Probably never wealthy enough to own chariots, they nevertheless had wagons and well-tailored clothes. Were they mere goat and sheep farmers? Or did they profit from or even control prehistoric trade along the route that later became the Silk Road? If so, they probably helped spread the first wheels and certain metal-working skills into China."
V. Mair, a professor of Chinese at the University of Pennsylvania, has been spearheading the research on these mummies for the U.S. He asserts that, contrary to the general belief, there was a substantial two-way, east-west flow of ideas and inventions beginning at least 3,000-4,000 years ago.
(Hadingham, Ivan; "The Mummies of Xinjiang," Discover, 15:68, April 1994.)
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