Mummies of Ürümchi

Front Cover
W. W. Norton & Company, 2000 - History - 240 pages
4 Reviews
In the museums of Urumchi, the wind-swept regional capital of the Uyghur Autonomous Region in Western China, a collection of ancient 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 Asian but Caucasoid -- tall and large-nosed and blond with thick beards and round eyes (probably blue). What were these blond Caucasians doing in the heart of Asia? Where did they come from and what language did they speak? Might they be related to a "lost tribe" of Indo-Europeans known from later inscriptions? Few gifts are to be found in the graves of Urumchi, making it difficult for archaeologists to pinpoint cultural connections from clues offered by pottery and tools. But their clothes -- woolens that rarely survive more than a few centuries -- have been preserved as brightly hued as the day they were woven.

Elizabeth Wayland Barber describes these remarkable mummies, their clothing, their shepherding ways, and their path to this remote, mysterious, and forbidding place. She pieces together their history and peculiar Western connections from both what she saw in Urumchi and the testimony of explorers who traveled along the Silk Road a century earlier.


What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - tnilsson - LibraryThing

My relatively low rating of this book is based on the fact that I expected a book about the mummies (and the civilizations that produced them). This book, however, seems to be a very exhaustive book ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - dylkit - LibraryThing

I would recommend reading the hardback version rather than the paperback..the maps and photos are reduced to the point of uselessness. And some of the maps weren't that great to begin with. That said ... Read full review


Mystery Mummies
A Man with Ten Hats
Plus Three Women and a Baby
The Beauty of Loulan
The Early Explorers
Tokharians and Other Hairy Barbarians
Hami and Hallstatt
The Oasis Hoppers and Their Kin
Pulses in the Heart of a Continent
Sands of the Silk Road Sands of Time
Notes on Sources

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2000)

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.

Bibliographic information