A set of exceptionally preserved mummies found in boats amidst a China desert have stumped archeologists since long.
A study published in the journal Nature says said the mummies are 4,000 years old and the remains belong to a local group called Ancient North Eurasians, who descended from an ancient Ice Age Asian population.
“The mummies have long fascinated scientists and the public alike since their original discovery,”Christina Warinner, associate professor of Anthropology at Harvard University, said the following:
She said that they are not only extraordinarily well preserved but also have a unique context in which they can be found and exhibit diverse cultural elements.
The 13 mummies, which were located in Xinjiang’s Tarim and Dzungarian Basins, were discovered in 1990.
Warinner said that they found strong evidence that they were a genetically isolated population.
“They seem to have openedly accepted new ideas from their farmer and herder neighbors, in contrast to their genetic isolation,” she stated. She also said they had developed unique cultural elements that were shared only by no other group.
They were tall, wore wool felt hats and leather booties, and some were fair-haired, which had previously led scientists to believe they were travelers from another land.
But recent DNA and genome research showed the mummies were actually locals who didn’t intermarry with surrounding herders. They learned new skills and adapted to a new culture. They woven their clothing, built irrigation systems and milked cows to make cheese. They also grew wheat and millet, which are not native to the region.