Secrets of the Silk Road: Mystery Mummies from China to be Unveiled

“This breakthrough exhibition will open up a whole new world of understanding and interest in the complex ancient history of this part of China, and the vast area where so many peoples connected so long ago,” Dr. Mair says. “The Tarim mummies and their associated artifacts from 4,000 to 2,000 years old hold an essential key to understanding the development of Eurasian civilization at a crucial moment: the transition from the Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age, from prehistory to history.”

“So wonderfully preserved are these mummies, lying there in their colorful clothing, that people unconsciously drop their voices and begin to tiptoe, as though these millennia-old people were merely asleep,” Dr. Barber says. “These mummies have revolutionized our ideas about the history of contact between Europe and Eastern Asia.”

The discovery of these ancient people along the Silk Road has helped historians better understand the settlement of ancient East Central Asia and has opened up a window to understanding the very early exchange of important technologies, life-improving inventions and ideas and customs being practiced in the inhospitable lands of the Tarim Basin where East meets West. The advanced metallurgy and textile traditions of these mystery mummies are of particular note, according to archaeologists.

The “Silk Road” was aptly named because of the vast amounts of silk and other merchandise -- spices, gold, precious metals and stones, ivory, glass, exotic animals, furs, ceramics, jade, lacquer, iron and plants -- that were carried back and forth from East to West. Many goods were bartered for others along the Silk Road, and objects often changed hands several times.

“The opportunity to see these priceless objects and the celebrated Tarim mummies will enable visitors to gain a new perspective on the complex cultures and the rich trading crossroads that characterized Eastern Central Asia in ancient times,” Dr. Mair says. “I have been engaged in intensive research on Xinjiang archaeology since the early 1990s and never dreamed that I would see the day when these invaluable ancient artifacts would come to the Americas. This exhibition will provide visitors with a unique opportunity to gain an appreciation of life in Eastern Central Asia both before and after the formation of the fabled Silk Routes in the late 2nd century BC.”

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Not sure if this post should be on the the ....exhibitions.. section of the forum or on books!

Ann Goodman sent me the following info for the forum:


"Do you know the book by Elizabeth Wayland Barber, The Mummies of Urumchi, Norton and Co. New York, London, 1999? Mummies with red hair were discovered in Xingiang cemeteries covered in what may be Celtic plaids, dating from 1400 - 400 B.C. New discoveries are described in a fascinating article on the first page of the New York Times Science section on March 16, 2010. An exhibition of the finds from these cemeteries is now at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California. Here is a copy of the blurb for the illustrated catalog ( ).

'SECRETS OF THE SILK ROAD - catalogue - $34.95

Pre-order your copy now and be among the first to receive this stunning catalogue that complements Bowers Museum's intriguing exhibition of the same title, "Secrets of the Silk Road", opening March 27th.

This Bowers publication is produced in association with the Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Museum, and the Cultural Heritage Bureau of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. This soft cover catalogue is lavishly illustrated, including color photographs of each of the objects in the exhibition, along with a list of object labels, a timeline of the Silk Road, and additional maps and diagrams. Edited by Victor Mair, Ph.D. With Contributions by: Elizabeth Wayland Barber, Ph.D., Lothar von Falkenhausen, Ph.D., Victor Mair, Ph.D., Spencer Wells, Ph.D.

Orders will be shipped beginning approximately April 1st.'

Best regards to all,
Ann Goodman"


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