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The Mummies of Urumchi [Paperback]

Elizabeth W. Barber
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Feb 2000
The story of the discovery and excavation of a group of perfectly preserved mummies buried around 1000 BC in Chinese Turkestan. An element of mystery pervades the book, as it did the project. Firstly all the mummies are intact, some of them with their internal organs preserved. Secondly, they are Caucasian, which turns upside down the theories that before the Chinese, the Mongols lived in that part of the world. This was the greatest textile find outside of Egypt and it is the textiles which reveal one of the most astounding connections in this case: one of the fabrics found on the site is a plaid, similar enough in weave and colour to relate this population to Ancient peoples in the region of Austria.

Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Pan Books; New edition edition (4 Feb 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330368974
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330368971
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 12.8 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,069,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Amazon Review

The 2000-year-old mummies of Ürümchi, found in central Asia along the famed Silk Road trading route, are so well preserved as to show clearly that they seem to be of Caucasian origin. Where did these people come from? Where did they go? You can find their pale-skinned, light-haired descendants among the people of the region, but the story of their presence in this forbidding land leaves more mysteries than it answers. Mass migrations during the Bronze Age scattered many peoples across Europe and Asia, and these startlingly lively looking mummies may help answer some questions about this period of human history. Their intact, fantastically coloured and patterned clothing captures much of author Elizabeth Wayland Barber's attention--she is an expert on prehistoric textiles. Her enthusiastic descriptions of the sewing skills of these migrant people, while focusing on details, lend an immediacy to this fascinating tale. Black-and-white as well as colour photos, maps, and diagrams illustrate Barber's colourful tale of anthropology. --Therese Littleton, --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Calf-length A-line dresses with contrastive piping lead the ladies fashions, in this year of the great burial. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This book is written with compassion,scholarship and wit. Usually esoteric subjects like philology and textile history are transformed by the author's ability to make the reader see into the past and out into the world - a world described with love and a zestful appreciation. Ranging across a multitude of disciplines, intriguing information is presented to nourish discussion and debate, but best of all, everything is invariably described with humanity, wit and a warm-heart. I would like to thank the author for a delightful reading experience.
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent 28 Oct 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book was a great revelation to me as I have learned so much not only about the mummies but also the importance of textiles in archeology. I loved reading every page and I strongly recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book 17 Jun 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was lent this by a friend and ended up having to buy my own copy I found it so interesting.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ancient Eireann Tartans 9 Nov 2010
It's some while since I read this book but it's sehr interessant,With plenty of stuff on textiles and perhaps more archaologically absorptive than one would think,Unless one is a keen reenactive fashionista-The origin of many of the oldest Ch'inese words such as 'Mak',Turn out to be Eurasian or Paleo-European in origin,that is,'Mak',is Cognate with words like 'Maha',as in 'Maha-Rajah'(Where the 'Raja' part means 'Reich','Reach', or 'Kingdom')and 'Magi' as in 'Magic' and 'Major' as in the classic Latin for 'Big' or simply 'Great'-Barber also describes the dress of these wandering Eurasian Magi or 'Gandalfs' in 'Welsh' hats and lists the numbers of other Non-Ch'inish words and names found in ancient texts.

As such,Philology can teach us a lot about the past but it can also teach us about identity and thus I recommend this bulky book to Europeans for that reason,For their ancestors are here, Locked in the obscurity that followed the Christian censorship of ancestor worship,ironically normal to those pagan Ch'inese,Who were forced to build the great wall of old Ch'ina to keep the Iranian Scyths,Huns and Oigurs and their horse warrior ilk out,The latter of whose rowdy descendants have been rioting in the New territory or Shinjiang Oigur-If you interest yourself in Textiles,History,Ethnology,then this book has all of that and is also a revelatory read on some other counts,Such as in its description of the various techniques of weaving and so is a worthy addition to any well-read readers philosophical bookhoard-It's depth and detail will fulfill your curiosity.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tocharians and Europeans far to the East!! 13 Aug 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a good book to start with if you want some basic knowledge of 'European' peoples in East Central Asia, but for me it is more about textiles and the like than any really in-depth discussion of Tocharians per-se. If you want a book that covers more in-depth subjects on 'European' peoples this far east you could take a look at the 'Tarim Mummies'. This is a far better over-view of all things Tocharian! That said, 'the Mummies of Urumchi' is still worth checking out all the same.
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