Last week, we addressed the horsemen’s migration from the Steppes east into the Altai Mountains forming the Afanasevo culture. This week, we’ll follow them one step further as some of the more adventurous Afanasevans then went south into the Tarim Basin—one of the most arid and unforgiving microclimates in the world—and not only survived, but maintained their identity for a couple thousand years as they mixed with other ethnic groups.
Our knowledge of these Proto-Indo-European (PIE) speaking pioneers’ history comes to us from their Tarim Basin mummies (preserved by the hyper aridity of that region—not by human arts of mummification). I will present the copious documentation of their ethnicity and culture in several stages.
(video) This is Cutting Edge. Penn Museum (University of Pennsylvania) conference (May 13, 2011) presentation by J.P. Mallory: Indo-European Dispersals and the Eurasian Steppe. Here, Mallory defends the Kurgan Hypothesis regarding the homeland of the Proto-Indo-European language and the route of the language to the Afanasevo in the Altai Mountain and from there into the speakers of the Tocharian PIE variant in the Tarim Basin— and methodically contests Colin Renfrew’s prior presentation (at the same conference) supporting Renfrew’s alternative Anatolian Hypothesis. The argument is now moot, for you saw in my Post 154 Colin Renfrew’s capitulation in his November 2017 presentation at the Oriental Institute. This is a good example of how theory dies by the sword of later scientific evidence i.e. The Scientific Method.
Note: J.P. Mallory’s book: “In Search of the Indo-Europeans” is a key resource in my personal library.
(video) National Geographic documentary: Ancient Caucasian Mummies Found in China. This video comes in sequentially numbered clips. Although not HD, this is a gripping and stirring presentation, very well written and produced, as we’d expect from National Geographic. Superb narration and narrative evoked emotion in me. Wish it was HD to cap it off, but don’t skip this!
(video) The Mummies of the Tarim Basin (little over an hour, then cut off). Penn Museum (University of Pennsylvania) lecture: The Tarim Basin Mummies by Victor Mair. Scholarly narrative. Speaker very knowledgeable, but rambles. Good Graphics when he zooms to full screen on major exhibits—I advise pausing on these closeups. Video is irregular, because of lighting issues. It’s worth watching, because you’ll gain insights above those in the earlier links. The video.
That’s enough for my research. If the subject interests you further, monitor YouTube for newer material. And please notify us about what you find as a comment on this post.
Thanks for visiting,
R. E. J. Burke
P.S. Just in case you think there’s just a few mummy samples from the Tarim Basin, I offer this montage.