Tarim Basin Mummies

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Tarim Basin Mummies The Tarim Basin mummies are a series of incredibly well preserved Bronze Age mummies which were discovered in the Tarim Basin region in the Xinjiang province of China, dating from 1800 BC to 200 AD. The mummies were found by explorers seeking antiquities. Today some of the mummies are exhibited in the museum of Xinjiang. The mummies are characterised by elongated bodies, angular faces, deep-set eyes, and other traditionally European features. Many of the corpses' hair is intact, and the colours range in colour from blonde and red to deep brown, it was typically long, curly and plaited. The hair colour may have been altered by salt. Anthropologists revealed that the textiles found accompanying the mummies were woven with a sophisticated loom, and that this was the farthest east the weaving technique had been known to be practiced. The arid climate of the Taklamakan desert dried out the bodies prior to decomposition, and the high concentration of salt in the soil composition aided in the drying process, leeching moisture from the bodies. Bottomless coffins enabled good air circulation, helping the body to dry out. Not all of the bodies were mummified, it has been hypothesised that the bodies which were mummified were buried during the winter. The growth of bacteria would have inhibited bacteria growth and declined the rate of decomposition. The most preserved mummies were dressed in winter clothing, supporting this. Some of the corpses were so well preserved that the fine hairs on the skin, lines and eyelashes were intact. 'The Beauty of Loulan' was one such mummy. (See picture) Buried in open coffins, with 13 foot wooden poles to substitute a tombstone, the mummies were buried with careful intent; artefacts surrounding their remains support a belief in the afterlife, and preparation for it. Cheese was found on the chests of the corpses,
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