The Mummies of Urumchi by Elizabeth Wayland Barber

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Synopsis

A fascinating exploration of the mysterious, perfectly preserved Caucasian mummies of western China. In the museums of rmchi, the windswept regional capital of the Uyghur Autonomous Region in Western China-what we know as Chinese Turkestan-a collection of ancient mummies lay at the center of an enormous mystery. Some of rmchi's mummies date back as far as 4,000 years-contemporary to the famous Egyptian mummies, but even more beautifully preserved, especially their clothing. Surprisingly, these prehistoric people are not Oriental but Caucasian-tall and large-nosed and blond with round eyes (probably blue). Where did they come from? What were these blonds doing in the foothills of the Himalayas? Few gifts are put into the graves of the dead, making it difficult for archaeologists to pinpoint any cultural connections from clues offered by their pottery and tools. But their clothing-woolens that rarely survive more than a few centuries-has been preserved as brightly hued as the day each was made. Elizabeth Wayland Barber describes these remarkable mummies, their clothing, and the world to which they so mysteriously belonged, piecing together their history and peculiar Western connections both from what she saw in rmchi and from the testimony of those who explored along the Silk Road centuries earlier. The result is an entertaining and informative unveiling of an ancient and exotic world.
 

About Elizabeth Wayland Barber

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Elizabeth Wayland Barber is the author of "Women s Work "and "The Mummies of r mchi". Professor emerita of archaeology and linguistics at Occidental College, she lives in California.
 
Published January 1, 1999 by W. W. Norton & Company. 240 pages
Genres: History, Arts & Photography, Travel, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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The mystery of what six-foot-tall, fair-haired people were doing in China at the time took Barber, an expert on ancient textiles at Occidental College in L.A., to the desert city of Urumchi in 1995, where archeologists at the site hoped that her expertise might help them understand what these unl...

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