Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
The Israelite Mummies of the Tarim Basin
In the dry hills of the central Asian province of Xingjiang, archaeologists have unearthed more than 100 corpses that could be as much as 4,000 years old -- astonishingly well-preserved and Caucasian! Who were these people, and where did they come from? All evidence indicates they were displaced Israelites building a new homeland following the collapse of the Assyrian Empire that enslaved them!
by Bertrand L. Comparet and John D. Keyser
EDITORS NOTE: In this article the authors refer to Aryans (Arians). Unfortunately, due to the misuse of this term by the Nazis, this is considered politically incorrect these days. If the term lndo-European is substituted, it means the same. i.e.: the Caucasian races.
The Disappearing Tribes
The ten northern tribes of Israel essentially vanished from their former Kingdom of Israel by circa 721 BC. They had been a powerful kingdom in the Eastern Mediterranean region for centuries prior to that time. They had been allied to the city-states of Tyre, Sidon, etc. in what historians now call the Phoenician Empire. Their alliance dominated the ancient world’s maritime trade routes and, from the time of King David onward, became a powerful military power on land as well. They were exceedingly blessed by YEHOVAH God during the time of Kings David and Solomon, but a long succession of retrograde kings led to a steady decline in the strength and influence of the kingdom of Israel.
During an approximately 20 year span between 740-720 B.C., the ten tribes of Israel went into foreign exile in several waves. At the beginning of this period, the Assyrians took captive the tribe of Naphtali and the Gileadite tribes of Gad, Reuben and half the tribe of Manasseh (II Kings 15:29). By circa 721 B.C., all of the ten tribes of Israel who had formed the northern kingdom of Israel had been removed from their lands (II Kings 17:18).
While the House of Judah remained in the Promised Land for a time, many have puzzled over the fate and future of the ten tribes of Israel. Where did they go? While the Bible foretold that the tribes of Israel would scatter, literally, to all four directions (Genesis 28:14), the remainder of this article is devoted to connecting one (or several) of the exiled tribes of Israel to one largely-ignored area in the region of Xinjiang in China: the Scythians or Tocharians.
According to the historian Strabo, "Most of the Scythians, beginning from the Caspian Sea, are called Dahae Scythae, and those situated more towards the east Massagetae and Sacae; the rest have the common appellation of Scythians, but each separate tribe has its peculiar name. All, or the greatest part of them, are nomads. The best known tribes are those who deprived the Greeks of Bactriana, the Asii, Pasiani, Tochari, and Sacarauli, who came from the country on the other side of the Iaxartes, opposite the Sacae and Sogdiani" (Strabo, 11-8-2).
The main Scythian tribe which migrated into the Parthian Empire was the Massagetae, accompanied by the allied tribes of the Dahae, the Tochari, the Asii, the Sacaruli and other clans such as the Parni, Aparni and Chorasmii. The Massagetae were composed of the Israelite tribe of Manasseh, while the Dahae may have been part of the tribe of Dan. The Tochari, in all likelihood, were descended from the Israelite tribe of Issachar since Tola was one of the clans of Issachar -- see Numbers 26:23. When you combine the syllables from the names "Tola" and "Issachar" you get the term "To-chari." These tribes that migrated into Parthia were, in fact, the Scythians who had lived in the steppes east of the Caspian Sea.
When the Assyrian Empire fell, many of their formerly subject peoples were suddenly free to migrate to new lands. One such people were the Israelites -- including the tribe of Naphtali, and one such group migrated to the steppes east of the Caspian Sea. The half-tribe of Manasseh stayed in that region while the tribes of Naphtali and Issachar went even further into Asia -- reaching at least as far as the Tarim Basin of northwestern China.
Aryan Ancestors On the Silk Road
The Israelite tribes of Reuben, Gad and half-Manasseh were placed by Tiglath-Pileser in the mountain district of Great Media, a region expressly called Hara (1 Chronicles 5:26; Ar being a mountain). In fact all ten tribes of Israel were placed in the "cities of the Medes" (2 Kings 17:6). Herodotus 7:62 says, "The Medes were once universally known as Arians." Hara was named Aria, Ariana and Arachosia by the Greeks (see Ptolemy). It contains the city of Harat.
According to author Yair Davidy, "Hara became a Scythian center and was the general region connected with the monotheistic Zoroaster (Zarathustra) who was himself associated with both Scythians and Hebrews. Southeast of Hara was the province of SAKASTAN which was peopled by Sakae (Scyths) whose presence in that region is now dated to before 600 B.C.E. This date is consistent with the date of Assyrian Exile [of the northern ten tribes] and the period following it. The people of Sakastan had a tradition that King Solomon of Israel had once ruled over them. Similarly, to the northeast of Hara was Bactriana, which also became a major Scythian region at one stage, and the Jews of Bactria believed that the Lost Ten Tribes had been in their area. Both Bactriana and Sakastan were considered part of Hara" (Yair Davidy, The Tribes: The Israelite Origins of Western Peoples, Russell-Davis Publishers, Hebron, Israel, 1993, p. 56).
According to the black obelisk discovered in the ruins of the palace of Nimrod which is now in the British Museum, the people or leader of the Arians was called ESAKSKA (Isaac) and their principal cities were "Beth-Telabon, Beth-Everak and Beth-Tsida" in 670 B.C. -- all Hebrew names.
This information connects the Israelites with the Arians. These Arians must have migrated to Thrace because, according to Stephanus, Thrace was called Aria. From Thrace they migrated to Germany since Tacitus mentions the Harii there in southeastern Germany (Ger. 43). The Thracian SCYTHIANS pricked and stained their bodies (Herodotus 5); so did the Arii of Germany (Tacitus); the Belgae of Britain (Caesar de Bell. Gall.), and the Piks of Norway and Scotland (Herodian; Claudian). Some of the Scythians, however, went east.
Political correctness has gotten a slap in the face recently from a number of archaeological discoveries in the Orient which indicate that the founders of many Eastern civilizations -- which are so revered by trendy New Age types who despise anything Caucasian and European -- were in fact racial Aryans. One famous example is the country of Iran, which takes its name from its original conquerors; until 1978 one of the many formal titles of the SHAH was "Lord of the Aryans."
Explorers have been studying several sites in the Tarim Basin of the Taklimakan Desert in northwestern China, along the route of the Silk Road, since the middle of the 19th century. The most important sites were at Ǘrümchi, Chärchän, and Turfan to the east of the basin. Numerous Bronze Age sites contained burials of more than 2,500 people, many of them interred with magnificent textiles of non-Asian origin. The great surprise was the European features of the mummies, and in the case of Chärchän man, his 6’6” height. What could they have been doing there, more than 1,000 miles from settlements of similar-looking people?
In 1934, Swedish archaeologist Folke Bergman explored the lost Xiaohe cemetery in the Tarim Basin. He reported his findings in 1939. Due to the onset of World War II and the subsequent closing of China to Western scientists, Xiaohe was not studied again until 2000, when the Xinjiang Archaeological Institute “rediscovered” it. The burial site consists of 167 graves, many of them intact, from the late Bronze Age nearly 4,000 years ago. The Europoid mummies found at the site exhibit blond hair, long noses, and slender bodies and are in many cases completely preserved and appear lifelike. This preservation is due to the arid, saline conditions in the desert.
Now the politically correct academic and scientific establishment who want to rewrite history to make it "Afro-centric" (and get rid of "dead Caucasian European males") have gotten another jolt of reality from the truth. Recent excavations in the Tarim Basin, in Xinjiang province, have uncovered more than 100 naturally mummified corpses of people who lived there between 4,000 and 2,400 years ago, INDICATING THAT THE ARYAN INCURSION INTO ASIA WAS IN FACT FAR EARLIER AND FAR MORE EXTENSIVE THAN ANYONE PREVIOUSLY BELIEVED.
The bodies were amazingly well preserved by the arid climate, and according to the New York Times "...archaeologists could hardly believe what they saw." The mummies had long noses and skulls, blond or red hair, thin lips, deep-set eyes, and other unmistakably Aryan features.
Dr. Victor H. Mair of the University of Pennsylvania said:
"Because the Tarim Basin Caucasoid corpses are almost certainly representatives of the Indo-European family, and because they date from a time period early enough to have a bearing on the expansion of the Indo-European people from their homeland, it is thought that they will play a crucial role in determining just where that might have been."
One such mummy of a teenaged girl with blond hair and blue eyes, found in a cave, has become quite a tourist attraction in Beijing. She has been nicknamed "The Lady of Tarim" and she is on display to throngs of museum visitors in the Chinese capital.
Apparently she was a princess or a priestess of some kind some 3,000 years ago, for she was buried in fine embroidered garments of wool and leather, along with beautiful jewelry, jars and ornaments of gold, silver, jade and onyx. Her remains are in such a remarkable state of preservation that the dead girl looks as if she were just sleeping.
The Truth of Diffusionism
"Diffusionism can now be taken seriously again," chortled one historian, Michael Puett of Harvard. Diffusionism is the theory that the ostensibly advanced Middle Eastern and Oriental civilizations of the ancient world all benefited from contact with Aryan migrants, merchants, wandering tribes, etc. and acquired much of their knowledge and attributes from these contacts; this theory can actually explain quite a lot about history, from the Indo-European roots of the Hindustani language to the Quetzalcoatl legend of the Aztecs to the mysterious ruins of Zimbabwe which were so clearly never built by blacks.
Diffusionism has been replaced over the past twenty years by the new, politically correct dogma of "independent invention," which holds that there was no contact at all between Caucasian people and any Asian or pre-Columbian civilization, or if there was it was bad because all Caucasian males are "imperialist exploiters"!
The politically correct theory teaches that EVERYTHING in ancient non-Caucasian societies was invented by the indigenes, EVERYTHING WITHOUT EXCEPTION, no ideas or influence from European contact, nothing good or beneficial at all even if there was any Caucasian contact, which there wasn't because Caucasian males are not the world-exploring people they are supposed to be! I guess we made up Leif Ericson and Magellan. Don't laugh; We have heard both of those idiocies advanced seriously by "Afro-centric historians."
According to the independent invention theory, the list of things non-Caucasians have independently invented includes the dozens of Asiatic dialects from Hindu to Punjabi to Uighur, all clearly based on a common Aryan root language; pure coincidence, say the politically correct professors! The agricultural techniques of the Aztecs and Incas such as crop rotation and terrace farming, so similar to ancient Roman and medieval European practices; bah, say the intellectual gangsters of liberalism, the Indians made it up themselves!
The Mayan pyramids and calendar and astronomy, almost duplicates of Greek and Egyptian knowledge (Egyptians who were NOT in any way, shape or form Negroes!) those are all products of the brilliant Maya civilization alone, according to the official line. The same Mayas' predilections for cannibalism and sacrificing young children by drowning them in sacred wells is ignored.
The blue eyes and broken Welsh language of Missouri's Mandan Indians; the Celtic-style megaliths and stone round towers of New England; the Viking ruins of L'Anse Aux Meadow in Newfoundland; the runic inscriptions on Connecticut's Dighton Rock and the Minnesota Kensington stone; Shaka the Zulu's organization that was based on Napoleon's system, which he got from a French hunter and trader who was a Napoleonic veteran; the stone ruins of Zimbabwe so utterly unlike anything ever found anywhere else in black Africa and resembling nothing so much as a Bronze Age Celtic fort; the long Aryan features of the Easter Island statues -- no way! According to the left-wing academic establishment, NOTHING was ever learned by non-Caucasians from contact between Third World cultures and Aryan man. How politically correct academia will explain away those hundred blond-haired, blue-eyed mummies from China I don't know -- but I'm sure it will be good!
The Mummies of Xinjiang
In the dry hills of this central Asian province, archeologists have unearthed more than 100 corpses that could be as much as 4,000 years old. Astonishingly well preserved -- and Caucasian. One glimpse of the corpses was enough to shock Victor Mair profoundly. In 1987, Mair, a professor of Chinese at the University of Pennsylvania, was leading a tour group through a museum in the Chinese city of Urumqi, in the central Asian province of Xinjiang, when he accidentally strayed into a gloomy and newly opened room.
There, under glass, lay the recently discovered corpses of a family -- a man, a woman, and a child of two or three -- each clad in long, dark purple woolen garments and felt boots. "Even today I get chills thinking about that first encounter," says Mair. "The Chinese said they were 3,000 years old, yet the bodies looked as if they were buried yesterday."
But the real shock came when Mair looked closely at their faces. In contrast to most central Asian peoples, these corpses had obvious Caucasian, or European, features -- blond hair, long noses, deep-set eyes, and long skulls.
"I was thunderstruck," Mair recalls. "Even though I was supposed to be leading a tour group, I just couldn't leave that room. The questions kept nagging at me: Who were these people? How did they get out here at such an early date?"
The corpses Mair saw that day were just a few of more than 100 dug up by Chinese archeologists over the past 16 years. All of them are astonishingly well preserved. They come from four major burial sites scattered between the arid foothills of the Tian Shan ("Celestial Mountains") in northwest China and the fringes of The Taklimakan Desert, some 150 miles due south.
All together, these bodies, dating from about 2000 B.C. to 300 B.C., constitute significant additions to the world's catalogue of prehistoric mummies.
Unlike the roughly contemporaneous mummies of ancient Egypt, the Xinjiang mummies were not rulers or nobles; they were not interred in pyramids or other such monuments, nor were they subjected to deliberate mummification procedures. They were preserved merely by being buried in the parched, stony desert, where daytime temperatures often soar over 100 degrees. In the heat the bodies were quickly dried, with facial hair, skin, and other tissues remaining largely intact. Where exactly did these apparent Caucasians come from? And what were they doing at remote desert oases in central Asia?
Any answers to these questions will most likely fuel a wide-ranging debate about the role outsiders played in the rise of Chinese civilization. As far back as the second century B.C., Chinese texts refer to alien peoples called the Yuezhi and the Wusun, who lived on China's far western borders; the texts make it clear that these people were regarded as troublesome "barbarians."
Until recently, scholars have tended to downplay evidence of any early trade or contact between China and the West, regarding the development of Chinese civilization as an essentially home-grown affair sealed off from outside influences; indeed, this view is still extremely congenial to the present Chinese regime. Yet some archeologists have begun to argue that these supposed barbarians might have been responsible for introducing into China such basic items as the wheel and the first metal objects.
Exactly who these central Asian outsiders might have been, however -- what language they spoke and where they came from -- is a puzzle to most academia. No wonder, then, that scholars see the discovery of the blond mummies as a sensational new clue.
Although Mair was intrigued by the mummies, the political climate of the late 1980s (the Tiananmen Square massacre occurred in 1989) guaranteed that any approach to Chinese archeological authorities would be fraught with difficulties. So he laid the riddle to one side as he returned to his main area of study, the translation and analysis of ancient Chinese texts.
Then, in September 1991, the discovery of the burial of a man's corpse at 5,000 feet sparked a new wave of interest and activity. Photos of the Ice Man's corpse, dried by the wind and then buried by a glacier, reminded Mair of the desiccated mummies in the Urumqi museum. And he couldn't help wondering whether some of the scientific detective methods now being applied to the Ice Man, including DNA analysis of the preserved issue, could help solve the riddle of Xinjiang.
With China having become more receptive to outside scholars, Mair decided to launch a collaborative investigation with Chinese scientists. He contacted Xinjiang's leading archeologist, Wang Binghua, who had found the first of the mummies in 1978. Before Wang's work in the region, evidence of early settlements was virtually unknown.
The "Red Hillock"
In the late 1970s, though, Wang had begun a systematic search for ancient sites in the northeast corner of Xinjiang Province. "He knew that ancient peoples would have located their settlements along a stream to have a reliable source of water," says Mair.
"As he followed one such stream from its source in the Tian Shan" says Mair, "Wang would ask the local inhabitants whether they had ever found any broken bowls, wooden artifacts, or the like. Finally one older man told him of a place locals called Qizilchoqa, or -- Red Hillock."
It was here that the first mummies were unearthed. This was also the first site visited last summer by Mair and his collaborator, Paolo Francalacci, an anthropological geneticist at the University of Sassari in Italy.
Reaching Qizilchoqa involved a long, arduous drive east from Urumqi. For a day and a half Mair, Wang, and their colleagues bounced inside four-wheel-drive Land Cruisers across rock-strewn dirt roads from one oasis to the next. Part of their journey eastward followed China's Silk Road -- the ancient trade route that evolved in the second century B.C. and connected China to the West.
Finally they reached the village of Wupu; goats scattered as the vehicles edged their way through the back streets. Next to the village was a broad green ravine, and after the researchers had maneuvered their way into it, the sandy slope of the Red Hillock suddenly became visible.
"It wasn't much to look at," Mair recalls, "about 20 acres on a gentle hill ringed by barbed wire. There's a brick work shed where tools are stored and the visiting archeologists sleep. But you could spot the shallow depressions in the sand where the graves were."
As Mair watched, Wang's team began digging up several previously excavated corpses that had been reburied for lack of adequate storage facilities at the Urumqi museum. Mair didn't have to, wait long, just a couple of feet below the sand, the archeologists came across rush matting and wooden logs covering a burial chamber with mud bricks. Mair was surprised by the appearance of the logs: they looked as if they had just been chopped down. Then the first mummy emerged from the roughly six-foot-deep pit. For Mair the moment was nearly as charged with emotion as that first encounter in the museum.
"When you're standing right next to these bodies, as well preserved as they are, you feel a sense of personal closeness to them," he says. "It's almost supernatural -- you feel that somehow life persists even though you're looking at a dried-out corpse."
Mair and Francalacci spent the day examining the corpses, with Francalacci taking tissue samples to identify the genetic origins of the corpses.
"He took small samples from unexposed areas of the bodies," says Mair, "usually from the inner thighs or underarms. We also took a few bones, usually pieces of rib that were easy to break off, since bone tends to preserve the DNA better than muscle tissue or skin."
Francalacci wore a face mask and rubber gloves to avoid contaminating the samples with any skin flakes that would contain his own DNA. The samples were placed in collection jars, sealed, and labeled; Mair made a photographic and written record of the collection.
So far 113 graves have been excavated at Qizilchoqa; probably an equal number remain to be explored. Based on Carbon-14 dating by the Chinese and on the style of painted pots found with the corpses, all the mummies here appear to date to around 1200 B.C. Most were found on their backs with their knees drawn up -- a position that allowed the bodies to fit into the small burial chambers. They are fully clothed in brightly colored woolen fabrics, felt and leather boots, and sometimes leather coats. The men generally have light brown or blond hair, while the women have long braids; one girl has blue tattoo marks on her wrist.
Besides pottery, resting alongside them are simple items from everyday life: combs made of wood, needles of bone, spindle whorls for spinning thread, hooks, bells, loaves of bread, and other food offerings. The artifacts provide further proof that these were not the burial sites of the wealthy: had the graves been those of aristocrats, laden with precious bronzes, they probably would have been robbed long ago.
The Woman in the Hat
However, Wang and his colleagues have found some strange if not aristocratic, objects in the course of their investigations in Xinjiang. At a site near the town of Subashi 310 miles west of Qizilchoqa, that dates to about the fifth century B.C., they unearthed a woman wearing a two-foot-long black felt peaked hat with a flat brim.
Though modern Westerners may find it tempting to identify the hat as the headgear of a witch, there is evidence that pointed hats were widely worn by both women and men in some central Asian tribes. For instance, around 520 B.C., the Persian king Darius recorded a victory over the "Sakas of the pointed hats"; also, in 1970 in Kazakhstan, just over China's western border, the grave of a man from around the same period yielded a two-foot-tall conical hat studded with magnificent gold-leaf decorations.
"The Behistan rock," declares Steven M. Collins, "depicts a Scythian leader being brought before Darius wearing a tall, pointed hat: a traditional headgear of Israelite leaders. That the hat was worn only by the Scythian identifies it as a uniquely Scythian trait. Herodotus confirmed this headgear was uniquely Scythians:
'The Sacae, who are Scythians, have high caps tapering to a point and stiffly upright, which they wear on their heads' (The History, 7.64).
"It was, specifically, the 'Sacae' Scythians who wore headgear which was traditional among the Israelite/Phoenician people. This offers further cultural evidence that the Scythians descended from the Israelites of the old Phoenician Empire in the Mideast, NOT from wild tribes in the Asian interior" (Steven M. Collins, The "Lost" Ten Tribes of Israel...Found, CPA Books, Boring, OR, 1995, p. 185).
The Subashi woman's formidable headgear, then, is an ethnic badge and, also, perhaps a symbol of prestige and influence. Subashi lies a good distance from Qizilchoqa, and its site is at least seven centuries younger, yet the bodies and their clothing are strikingly similar.
In addition to the "witch's hat," clothing found there included fur coats and leather mittens; the Subashi women also held bags containing small knives and herbs, probably for use as medicines. A typical Subashi man, said by the Chinese team to be at least 55 years old, was found lying next to the corpse of a woman in a shallow burial chamber. He wore a sheepskin coat, felt hat, and long sheepskin boots fastened at the crotch with a belt. Another Subashi man has traces of a surgical operation on his neck; the incision is sewn up with sutures made of horsehair.
Mair was particularly struck by this discovery because he knew of a Chinese text from the third century A.D. describing the life of Huatuo, a doctor whose exceptional skills were said to have included the extraction and repair of diseased organs.
The text also claims that before surgery, patients drank a mixture of wine and an anesthetizing powder that was possibly derived from opium. Huatuo's story is all the more remarkable in that the notion of surgery was heretical to ancient Chinese medical tradition, which taught that good health depended on the balance and flow of natural forces throughout the body. Mair wonders if the Huatuo legend might relate to some lost Asian medical tradition practiced by the Xinjiang people. One clue is that the name Huatuo is uncommon in China and seems close to the Sanskrit word for medicine.
The woolen garments worn by the mummies may provide some clue to where exactly the Xinjiang people came from. A sample of cloth brought back by Mair was examined by University of Pennsylvania anthropologist Irene Good -- a specialist in early Eurasian textiles. Examining the cloth under a low-power microscope, she saw that the material was not, strictly speaking, wool at all.
Wool comes from the undercoat of a sheep; this material appeared to have been spun from the coarse outer hair (called kemp) of a sheep or goat. Despite the crudeness of the fibers, they were carefully dyed green, blue, and brown to make a plaid design.
They were also woven in a diagonal twill pattern that indicated the use of a rather sophisticated loom. The overall technique, Good believes, is "characteristically European" and, she says, the textile is "the easternmost known example of this kind of weaving technique." Similar textile fragments, she notes, have been recovered from roughly the same time period at sites in Germany, Austria, and Scandinavia.
Horses and Wagons
Another hint of outside connections struck Mair as he roamed across Qizilchoqa. Crossing an unexcavated grave, he stumbled upon an exposed piece of wood, which he quickly realized had once belonged to a wagon wheel. The wheel was made in a simple but distinctive way, by doweling together three carved, parallel wooden planks. This style of wheel is significant: wagons with nearly identical wheels are known from the grassy plains of the Ukraine from as far back as 3000 B.C.
Most researchers now think the birthplace of horse drawn vehicles and horse riding was in the steppes east and west of the Urals rather than in China or the Near East. As archeologist David Anthony and his colleagues have shown through microscopic study of ancient horse teeth, horses were already being harnessed in the Ukraine 6,000 years ago. The Ukraine horses, Anthony found, show a particular kind of tooth wear identical to that of modern horses that "fight the bit."
The world's earliest high-status vehicles also seem to have originated in the steppes; recent discoveries of wooden chariots with elaborate spoked wheels were reported by Anthony to date to around 2000 B.C. Chariots do not seem to have appeared in China until some 800 years later. A number of artifacts recovered from the Xinjiang burials provide important evidence for early horse riding.
Qizilchoqa yielded a wooden bit and leather reins, a horse whip consisting of a single strip of leather attached to a wooden handle, and a wooden cheek piece with leather straps. This last object was decorated with an image of the sun that was probably religious in nature and that was also found tattooed on some of the mummies.
And at Subashi, archeologists discovered a padded leather saddle of exquisite workmanship. Could the Xinjiang people have belonged to a mobile, horse-riding culture that spread from the plains of eastern Europe? Does this explain their European appearance? If so, could they have been speaking an ancient forerunner of modern European, Indian, and Iranian languages?
Though the idea is deemed highly speculative, a number of archeologists and linguists think the spread of Indo-European languages may be linked to the gradual spread of horse-riding and horse-drawn vehicle technology from its origins in Europe 6,000 years ago. The Xinjiang mummies may help confirm these speculations.
The Tocharian Language
Intriguingly evidence of a long-extinct language belonging to the Indo-European family does exist in central Asia.
It has long been known that around the first century A.D. the northwestern part of China was inhabited by a Caucasian people who spoke a language called by scholars Tocharian.
In the early part of this century, French and German archaeologists excavating in the northwest provinces discovered extensive written manuscripts in this language, and when they cracked the code, so to speak, they were astonished at the similarities between this supposedly isolated Oriental tongue and ancient Germanic and Celtic languages.
This language is recorded in manuscripts from the eighth century A.D., and solid evidence for its existence can be found as far back as the third century. Tocharian inscriptions from this period are also found painted in caves in the foothills of the mountain west of Urumqi, along with paintings of swash-buckling knights wielding long swords. The knights are depicted with full red beards and European faces.
Could the Xinjiang people have been their ancestors, speaking an early version of Tocharian?
"My guess is that they would have been speaking some form of Indo-European," comments Don Ringe, a historical linguist at the University of Pennsylvania, "but whether it was an early form of Tocharian or some other branch of the family, such as Indo-Iranian, we may never know for sure."
Perhaps a highly distinctive language would help explain why the Xinjiang people's distinctive appearance and culture persisted over so many centuries. Eventually they might well have assimilated with the local population -- the major ethnic group in the area today, the Uygur, includes people with unusually fair hair and complexions.
That possibility will soon be investigated when Mair, Francalacci, and their Chinese colleagues compare DNA from ancient mummy tissue with blood and hair samples from local people. Besides the riddle of their identity, there is also the question of what these fair-haired people were doing in a remote desert oasis. Probably never wealthy enough to own chariots, they nevertheless had wagons and well-tailored clothes. Were they mere goat and sheep farmers? Or did they profit from or even control prehistoric trade along the route that later became the Silk Road? If so, they probably helped spread the first wheels and certain metalworking skills into China.
"Ultimately I think our project may end up having tremendous implications for the origins of Chinese civilization," Mair reflects. "For all their incredible inventiveness, the ancient Chinese weren't cut off from the rest of the world, and influences didn't just flow one way, from China westward."
Unfortunately, economics dictates that answers will be slow in coming to those who don't understand the Israelite connection. The Chinese do not have the money to spare for this work, and Wang and his team continue to operate on a shoestring. Currently most of the corpses and artifacts are stored in a damp, crowded basement room at the Institute of Archeology in Urumqi, in conditions that threaten their continued preservation. If Mair's plans for a museum can be financed with Western help, perhaps the mummies can be moved. Then, finally, they'll receive the study and attention that will ultimately unlock their secrets.
The Scythian tribes -- of which the Tarim Basin people were a part -- had a well-developed, though nomadic, way of life. These nomads dwelled mainly in tents or wagons. They raised some crops, but their main talent was in tending livestock: cattle, sheep, goats and especially horses!
The Scythians were acknowledged to have been the best horsemen of their day, and no cavalrymen could match their skill in fighting. In about 512 B.C., Darius the Great tried to subdue them north of the Danube River and the Black Sea, but he failed. On numerous occasions the Scythians defeated the powerful armies of their enemies -- the Assyrians, Persians and Romans. In fact, it was some of the hard-riding, violence-loving Scythian tribes which later laid in the dust the might and glory of Rome!
As we have seen, archaeological evidence and historical records reveal that the Scythians were fair-skinned peoples closely akin to, if not identical to, today's northwestern Europeans! In fact, archaeologists have discovered burial mounds containing the frozen bodies of Scythian chieftains and their retainers:
"The chieftains were exceptionally tall and strong and...racially the Altai [a Scythian tribe] were predominantly [of] European type....At least one man had black wavy hair and one woman a luxuriant soft pile of dark chestnut tresses. A silver and gilt amphora [vase] discovered in 1862 in a grave at a site called Chertomlyk, also on the Dnieper, bears in relief on its gleaming surface a group of Scythians who could be American wranglers: one is roping a shaggy-maned steed, another is removing hobbles from a saddled horse....The Budini [another Scythian tribe, were] a powerful people with bright red hair and deep blue eyes....Sometimes the Scythians prepared a sort of haggis [a Scottish dish] by boiling the flesh of a cow in its own skin.
"They were in all respects a passionate people -- bearded men with dark, deep-set eyes, weather-cured faces and long wind-snarled hair. They drank from the skulls of slain enemies and flaunted the scalps of their foes as trophies. In a time when nations had not yet developed skilled cavalrymen and relied almost entirely on foot soldiers and chariots, the Scythians came riding at the gallop, shooting fusillades of singing arrows from their bows.
"Herodotus also reported that the Scythians liked to get high from marijuana! 'In order to cleanse their bodies, the men make a booth by fixing in the ground three sticks inclined toward one another, and stretching around them woolen felts; inside the booth a dish is placed on the ground, into which they put a number of red-hot stones, and then add some hemp seed. Immediately it gives out such a vapor as no Greek vapor bath can exceed'" (Frank Trippet, The First Horsemen, Time-Life Books, New York, 1974, pp. 9, 18, 105-106, 112, 122).
So the ancient Scythians not only looked like most of our American and British peoples (and others of northwestern European descent) today, they even appear to have passed on some of their terrible habits to our modern peoples -- their descendants!
"Round the Black Sea...are to be found, if we except SCYTHIA, the most uncivilized nations in the world. No one could claim that the rest have any of the arts of civilized life, or have produced any man of distinction" (Herodotus 4:46). Aeschylus says "The Sacae (or Scuths) were noted for their good laws, and were preeminently a RIGHTEOUS people." Colossians 3:11 contrasts Barbarians with Scythians. Thucydides says, "In respect of military strength and number of soldiers, NO single nation, either in Europe or Asia, could match the SCUTHS" (Thucydides 2:97 spoken about 420 B.C.).
As Psalm 105:20 says, "He [YEHOVAH God] increased His people Israel greatly, and made them stronger than their enemies." Herodotus adds, "They have, in one respect...shown themselves WISER than any other nation upon the face of the earth....Possessing no houses but wagons, and carrying these about wherever they go, accustomed, one and all, to fight on horseback with bows and arrows, and dependent for their food not upon agriculture but upon their cattle: how can they fail of being unconquerable, and even unassailable?" (4:46). "NO weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper" (Isaiah 54:17).
Their oaths were accompanied by ceremonies identical with those of the MEDES; they used skulls as drinking cups, like the Northmen of later years; their weapons were the spear, the battle-axe and the bow; they made BOOTHS like the Israelites; they had fables of griffins, the representations of which on the Scythian tombs are almost exactly like the winged lions of the Assyrians.
Describing their sacrifices, Herodotus says, "After flaying the beasts, they take out all the bones, and put the flesh into boilers or cauldrons of a large size, then placing the BONES of the animals beneath the cauldron, they set them ALIGHT, and so boil the meat" (Herodotus 4:61). In Ezekiel 24:5 we read, "take the choice of the flock, and BURN also the BONES under it, and make it boil well." Professor Rawlinson thinks both these passages refer to the same custom.
Finally Herodotus says regarding sacrifices, "they NEVER USE SWINE; nor, indeed, is it their wont to breed them in any part of their country" (Herodotus 4:63). Yes "the SWINE...IS UNCLEAN to you" (Leviticus 11:7). Strabo says of the Dacians "that the care of worshipping the Supreme Being is GREAT among this nation, is not to be doubted, after what Posidonius has related, 'and they even ABSTAIN FROM ANIMAL FOOD from religious motives,' as likewise on account of the testimony of other historians" (Strabo 7:3:4).
While the Scythians considered horses their most precious possession, they raised other animals as well: sheep, goats, cattle and wool-coated oxen called yaks. Archaeological evidence shows that sheep were the Scythian's second most important herd animal. They used it for meat, skin, wool and milk. In every grave excavated so far -- from richest to poorest -- archaeologists have found offerings of mutton, which is the flesh of an adult sheep.
Herodotus says, "HEMP groweth abundantly in this land of Scythia, and of this the people MAKE GARMENTS that are very like to garments made of FLAX. These people possess neither houses, cities, nor cultivated land: but lived in wagons and on the produce of their cattle." This reminds us of Hosea 2:2-14 which says, "Plead with your mother, plead...Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a DRY LAND, and slay her with thirst...For she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink...For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal. Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and My wine in the season thereof, and will RECOVER my wool and MY FLAX given to cover her nakedness."
"Wearing a tall, pointed cap," writes Steven M. Collins, "was also a cultural trait of the Israelite-Phoenicians. Evidence of the Phoenician trait has been found in both the Old World and in ancient America. In the Old World, an example of Phoenicians wearing such caps is found on a relief from Persepolis as shown in the Encyclopedia Americana. Dr. Barry Fell's America B.C. shows a terra-cotta figurine found in an American burial mound depicting a Phoenician with a tall cap, the 'characteristic high-crowned hat, the hennin, worn on formal occasions' (Fell, America B.C., p. 168). Israelite high priests wore tall hats called miters (Exodus 28:37-29:6). The miter had a 'forefront' (Exodus 28:37), and a blue decoration 'high upon the miter' (Exodus 39:31), verifying that it was a tall cap. This type of headgear was adopted by Israelites in leadership positions. Harper's Bible Dictionary shows tall, pointed hats as an example of 'Hebrew royal attire' (see 'Dress,' example no. 9, p. 227).
"The matching headgear of the Israelite-Phoenicians and the Sacae-Scythians is one more cultural factor supporting the conclusion that the Scythians were the displaced ten tribes of Israel" (Steven M. Collins, Israel's Lost Empires, Bible Blessings, Royal Oak, MI, 2002, pp. 210-211).
Israel dwelt among the monuments -- the BARROWS and MOUNDS of Southern Russia, the CAVES in which the Getae lived in memory of that to which Zalmoxis retired -- and ate unclean food. Therefore Isaiah 65:4 says Israelites "remain among the GRAVES, and lodge in the MONUMENTS; that eat swine's flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels." Pliny (Natural History 4:12) calls them "CAVE-DWELLERS." "Set thee up WAYMARKS, make thee HIGH MOUNDS" (Jeremiah 31:21). "They [Scythians] set to work, and raise a VAST MOUND above the GRAVE all of them vying with each other, and seeking to make it as tall as possible" (Herodotus 4:71).
Drunkenness was prevalent among Israelites (Deuteronomy 21:20-21). "Woe to the...drunkards of Ephraim" (Isaiah 28:1-3). "Howl all ye drinkers of wine" (Joel 1:5). "Woe to them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them" (Isaiah 6:11-13). When Spartans want to drink purer wine than normal, they give the order to FILL SCYTHIAN FASHION (Herodotus 6:84). The SCYTHIANS were driven out of Media by being invited to a feast and made DRUNK and then murdered (Herodotus 1:106).
Tacitus says the Kimbri were Germans and "the Germans never to have intermarried with other nations; but to be a Race, Pure, Unmixed, and stamped with a distinct character. Hence a family likeness pervades the whole though their numbers are so great" (Tacitus de Morib. Ger. c.v.). In a similar fashion Israel was sifted through a sieve, but not one grain was allowed to fall to the ground (Amos 9:9). "SCYTHIANS are dead-set AGAINST FOREIGN WAYS" (Herodotus 4:75). Their destiny was to "DWELL ALONE" (Numbers 23:9).
The Obvious Israelite Origin
According to Steven M. Collins, "A large body of the ten tribes of Israel moved from Palestine to the Black Sea region of south Russia when Samaria fell. Even as the Israelites were herdsmen and exporters of grain, so were the Scythians. Even as the Israelites had been skilled in metallurgy from the time of Solomon, so were the Scythians. Even as the Israelites had civilized tastes, so did the Scythians. The Israelites were descendants of Isaac, and the Scythians bore the name of Isaac ('Sac-ae' or 'Sak-a'). The Israelites fled to the Black Sea regions in about 721 B.C., and the 'Scythians' were first noted in the Black Sea regions soon after this date. There is no doubt about the origin of the Scythians: They were displaced Israelites building a new homeland in the Black Sea region and in parts of the Russian steppe" (Steven M. Collins, Israel's Lost Empires, Bible Blessings, Royal Oak, MI, 2002, p. 206). So, too, were the blond-haired, long-nosed mummies of the Tarim Basin.
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