Cherchen Man – Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia

Margie Jones


The Cherchen man was found at Zaghunluq near the town of Qiemo (Cherchen) in the Taklamakan Desert, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, western China in 1978. Cherchen man is very well preserved, and it has been estimated that he died approximately 1000 BC. Cherchen Man - Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia

The mummy is an adult male with caucasoid facial features. While an early estimate suggested that had been 198 cm (6 feet 6 inches) tall, the archaeologists J. P. Mallory and Victor Mair put the man’s height at no more than 165 cm (5′ 5″). His hair was “reddish brown flecked with grey, framing high cheekbones”, he had an “aquiline” “long nose, full lips and a ginger beard”, and was wearing “a red twill tunic” and leggings with a pattern resembling “tartan.” Yellow and reddish patterns on the face of Cherchen Man have been identified as tattoos in some sources, but are more likely ochre paint. The man is often described as looking “like a Bronze Age European” and/or as resembling “a Celt”, However, Cherchen Man was more likely connected to the so-called Afanasevo culture – an Indo-European people located in Siberia during the 4th and 3rd Millenia BCE.

Cherchen Man - Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia

Also present in Tomb 2 were a female mummy known as “Cherchen Woman” and an infant known as the “Blue Baby”.

Cherchen Man - Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia

The exceptional preservation of ancient remains recovered from the Tarim Basin was enabled by natural mummification – a result of the arid conditions. Other such remains have also been recovered at sites throughout the Tarim, including Qäwrighul, Yanghai, Shengjindian, Shanpula, and Qizilchoqa. Like other mummies from the Tarim, Cherchen Man was buried in a tomb made of mud bricks topped with reeds and brush. He is especially well-preserved due to the conditions he was buried in. The desert’s dry conditions as well as its salty soil provided a suitable climate for mummification. Extremely cold temperatures would have killed any bacteria that contributed to the decay, and the “thick clothes and socks made of rainbow-colored wool” suggest he was buried in the winter.

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