In the late 1990s, the western world learned about the existence of an astonishing collection of ancient, and exquisitely preserved, mummies, all excavated in the vast Tarim Basin desert of East Central Asia—a crossroads of the Silk Road. This new blockbuster traveling exhibition from China features more than 150 extraordinary objects representing the rich cultural heritage of the region over more than 4,000 years. The materials come from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Museum and the Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology in Urumqi in northwest China. Jewel-encrusted vessels, masks, jewelry, clothing, highly valued silk and other textiles, wooden and bone implements, and coins testify to the remarkable international trade that passed through the region. Perhaps most remarkable, however, are three astonishingly well-preserved ethnically-diverse mummies dating from 1800 BCE to 400 CE—a man, a woman popularly known as the “Beauty of Xiaohe,” and a child—and related artifacts from those burials.
Penn Museum is the first and the last stop on the east coast for this exhibition featuring mummies from China never before seen in America. Secrets of the Silk Road starts its US tour at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California from March 27 - July 25, 2010.