Chinese Mummies…with Red Hair

“The Beauty of Xiaohe,” as this red-headed female mummy is known, was the first of the Tarim Basin mummies that this author learned about. Ever since that first article detailing the discovery of European mummies in China, she has maintained an interest in it.

Unfortunately, however, this has not translated into constant monitoring of the archaeologists’ progress. I am going to have to keep a better eye on their work going forward, something I should have done previously. Their discoveries could help us understand parts of China’s history that have been lost to record.

Click on the link below to learn more about these fascinating mummies, readers:

uncaptioned image

DNA Reveals These Red-Haired Chinese Mummies Come From Europe And Asia

Kristina Killgrove


Archaeologist, Writer, Scientist

Within a nondescript Bronze Age cemetery first discovered by Swedish archaeologists in 1934 and rediscovered by the Xinjiang Archaeological Institute in 2000, researchers have found the oldest and best-preserved mummies in the Tarim Basin area of China. Their skeletal remains, along with unprecedented artifacts, are helping solve the longstanding question of the origins of human settlement in a politically contested area of China.

Contemporary occupants of the Tarim Basin, a geographical area in the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region of northwest China, are both biologically and culturally diverse.  The region borders numerous countries and was historically a part of the Silk Road trade route between the West and the East, so people and artifacts have moved through the Tarim Basin for thousands of years. But the origins of the inhabitants of the basin have been questioned.

One hypothesis suggests that the earliest settlers of this part of Asia were nomadic herders from the steppes of Russia and Kazakhstan, while the other suggests that people came first from the oases of Bactria, or modern Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Turkmenistan. While both hypotheses have support in archaeological findings such as burial customs, clothing styles, and animal bones, previous genetic evidence from human remains, which came from a cemetery called Gumugou on the eastern edge of the Tarim Basin, was inconclusive.

Read more…

2 thoughts on “Chinese Mummies…with Red Hair

  1. Physiological features turning up where you don’t expect them to be is always interesting. Did they develop naturally, like blond hair in the Pacific Islands–which has an entirely separate genetic mechanism than the European blond hair–or were they brought in and transmitted from somewhere else, prehistorically? How? When? Why? By who? What happened then?
    Prehistory is interesting!

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s