Skip to comments.Sand-Covered Huns City Unearthed
Posted on 10/10/2002 5:43:05 PM PDT by blam
Sand-covered Huns city unearthed
XI'AN: Chinese archaeologists recently discovered a unique, ancient city which has lain covered by desert sands for more than 1,000 years.
It is the first ruined city of the Xiongnu (Huns) ever found, said Dai Yingxin, a well-known Chinese archaeologist. The Xiongnu was a nomadic ethnic group, who for 10 centuries were tremendously influential in northern China.
The unearthed city occupies 1 square kilometre in Jingbian County, in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, adjacent to the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in the north of the country.
It is believed that the city was built by more than 100,000 Xiongnu people in AD 419. Named "Tongwancheng," which means "to unify all countries," the city is composed of three parts: the palace walls, the inner city and the outer city. Watchtowers stand at the four corners of the complex.
The 16 to 30 metre thick city walls are made with sand and white-powdered earth, mixed with glutinous rice water. This intriguing concoction made the earthen walls as hard as those made from stone.
From a distance, the white city looks like a giant ship. The southwestern turret, the highest of the four, is 31 metres high and resembles a ship's mast. The ruined city is now fenced with brush-wood, trees and grass.
"It is the most substantial, magnificent and well-preserved city to be built by any ethnic group in the history of China," said Zhu Shiguang, president of the China Ancient City Society.
Tongwancheng used to be a prosperous city on the upper reach of the Wuding River, a major tributary of the Yellow River. It remained the political, economic and military centre of the southern Ordos Plateau for over five centuries. It was as the river continued to dry up, that the ancient city was buried by moving sands, said Xing Fulai, a research fellow at the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology.
Its discovery provides vital information for the study of the Xiongnu tribesmen, who have, to date, remained a mystery to both Chinese and foreign archaeologists because of a lack of adequate historical material and evidence relating to their culture.
Xing said the city ruins will be considered for world heritage status by UNESCO.
I do believe that the Xiongnu, the Scytians and the Picts are related. BTW, they are related to the Hakka Chinese also.
The Xiongnu or (Hsiung-nu) first appear in Chinese historical records about the 5th century BC. when their repeated invasions prompted the small kingdoms of North China to begin erecting what later became the Great Wall.
PEOPLE AND ART Xiongnu are Turko-Mogolian nomadic people, who speak Altaic language and move migrate following water and grass. From the Chinese source, they are identified as short people with stock body and a very large round head, broad face, prominent cheek-bones, wide nostrils, a fairly bushy mustache and no beard except for a tuft of stiff hair on the chin; their long ears are pierced and adorned with a ring. The head is usually shaved, except for a tuft on the top. They wear a loose robe to the calf, split at the sides and gathered in by a girdle whose ends hang down in front.
XIONGNU RISES IN POWER At the third century BC, Xiongnu tribes formed a confederation under a ruler known as the shan-yu or Xiongnu chief. They ruled over a territory that extended from western Manchuria (Northeast Provinces) to the Pamirs and covered much of present Siberia and Mongolia. CULTURE AND LIFE STYLE The Xiongnu moved with their livestock in search of water and pasture. They ate only meant, dressed in skins, slept on furs, and camped in felt tents. Their religion was a vague shamanism based on the cult of Tangri or Heaven and on the worship of sacred mountains.
Both Xiongnu and Scythians were head-hunters and drank blood from the skull of the enemies. To mourn the dead, both Scythian and Xiongnu gash their faces with knives, "so that blood flows with their tears." ECONOMY AND TRADE CONTROL OF THE SILK ROAD CONFLICTS WITH THE CHINESE EMPIRES EARLY HUN With the eastern Xiongnu, we have lots of records about them from Chinese source; however the western Xiongnu leaves no record of history, for lack of contact with any great civilized nation which might have preserved some information about them.
The Huns were traced to a nomadic tribe in Central Europe (the Steppes near the Black Sea). It is still uncertain whether the Huns in Europe were the same as Xiongnu (which sometimes are also called Huns) [see Encyc. Britannica].
Huns in Europe appeared around 370 AD, while the presence of Xiongnu was felt in China during Qin dynasty (221 BC). The result of conflict between Han dyasty and Xiongnu was a division of Xiongnu. Part of the Xiongnu tribe was "sinicized" (Hanized?), as recorded in history about Wang2 Zhao1 Jun1 and Han Wudi. The others were driven away. It is not surprising that after several hundred years, they actually showed up in Europe.
Hungary, which obviously is derived from the word "Hun", has a language of Uralic origin. It is quite certain that Hungary had heavy influence by the Huns. Interestingly, a Hungarian friend told me that Hungarians put their family first when they address people, which is distinctly different from other European culture, but similar to Chinese culture. Whether this is the influence of the original Huns or the Mongolian occupation later in 1200 AD is uncertain.
Huns are significantly different from Hakka in their cultural behavior. Although both Huns and Hakkas are migratory, Huns never settled in one place. They kept moving, conquering and moving. Huns mainly made their living by snatching from the conquered while Hakkas are agriculturally based and self-sufficient. Huns were illiterate and had no idea about civilization and knowledge preservation, while Hakkas have a tradition of strong emphasis on education and intellectualism. These two cultures are totally dissimilar and incompatible. Huns finally disappaered and was integrated with Europeans without a trace of their original "culture".
Xiongnu in China also intermarried Han people. During the downfall of West Jin dynasty, the Han people cross the yangtze River and settled in southern China, bringing with them some Xiongnu soldiers and servants. While Xiongnu descendents established "Han" Kingdom in the north, gradually became sinicized. Han Kingdom was destroyed by Zhao kingdom (Jie2 ethnic group), which was in turn destroyed by Han people again.
If Hakka were actually sinicized "non-Han", then Hakka migration from north to south would not be "fleeing" the "northern foreign invasion" to "preserve" their own culture. Intead, Hakkas would have to be the actual "invaders" from the north trying to spread their own culture to the south. However, how a non-Han minority could preserve the Han culture better than the true Han people would be very difficult to explain. And it would be even more difficult to explain why the poems in Shijing (The Book of Poems) popular in the Chunqiu-Zhanguo period (pre-Qin) rhymes better with Hakka than Mandarin. Xiongnu although had attempted invasion of the northern kingdoms during the Chunqiu-Zhanguo period, they could hardly have had major settlement in "China" prior to Han dynasty.
The "theory" on Hun origin of Hakka was based on very fragmentary blood typing and DNA analysis done by Japanese and Russian researchers.
(I believe that the Hakka are of mixed race, Asian and Cacuasian.)
TRACKING THE TARIM MUMMIES
A solution to the puzzle of Indo-European origins?
BY DAVID W. ANTHONY
Archaeological and linguistic evidence places the Indo-European homeland in the North Pontic region. Members of one Indo-European group (the Yamnaya culture) that migrated to the western Altai Mountains, where they are identifiable as the Afanasievo culture, may have later moved into the Tarim Basin of what is now western China.
The Indo-European problem is one of archaeology's oldest, most contentious questions. More than 200 years ago, in 1786, English jurist and scholar Sir William Jones realized that Latin and Greek shared a common origin with Sanskrit, the ancient language of Hindu law and religion. These three languages, he proposed, had developed from a single ultimate parent language, now called Proto-Indo-European. Linguists soon added most of the languages of Europe (including English), Iran, and northern India-Pakistan to the family, and eventually discovered several extinct cousins, including Hittite, spoken in Anatolia about 2000-1000 B.C., and Tocharian, a group of two (or possibly three) languages spoken about A.D. 500-800 in the Buddhist monasteries and caravan cities of the Tarim Basin in what is now western China. All of these languages still display telltale traces of the same Proto-Indo-European grammar and vocabulary. But where and when was the elusive mother tongue spoken? And by what historical circumstances did it generate daughter tongues that became scattered from Scotland to China?
In 1995, media reports brought to the public's attention astonishingly well-preserved remains of European-looking people, dressed in European-looking clothes, buried in the Tarim Basin between about 1800 B.C. and A.D. 500. This came about through the persistent efforts of Victor Mair, a professor of Chinese and Indo-Iranian literature and religion at the University of Pennsylvania. Long known to specialists but poorly understood and little studied, the Tarim mummies (not really mummies, but bodies preserved by dry conditions) quickly became the focus of intense interest and debate. Riveting photographs appeared in ARCHAEOLOGY (March/April 1995, pp. 28-35) and Discover. Academic papers on the mummies were edited by Mair for the 1995 Journal of Indo-European Studies. Film crews working for Nova and the Discovery channel soon followed Mair to the deserts of northwestern China; the Discovery show ("The Riddle of the Desert Mummies") was nominated for an Emmy. In 1996, Mair hosted a conference of 50 international experts on the archaeology, linguistics, and physical anthropology of the Central Eurasian societies related to the mummies; the proceedings were published in two dense and informative volumes in 1998, and textile specialist Elizabeth Barber issued a book on the Tarim textiles.( Barber's book is titled: "The Mummies Of Urumchi")
Now Mair has teamed with James Mallory, a distinguished Indo-European linguist and archaeologist at Queen's University in Belfast, to write The Tarim Mummies, which explores the difficult and controversial questions about the languages, identities, technologies, migrations, and physical traits of the mummies. It is a fascinating and readable account and presents a valuable compendium of recent research on a little-known region that has long been the focus of romantic speculation by travelers and explorers from Marco Polo to Aurel Stein. To determine the ethnic and linguistic identity of the Tarim mummies requires, as they say, "a feat of archaeological and linguistic legerdemain," but it is an intriguing game to follow, for it sheds light on the documentary, linguistic, archaeological, and skeletal evidence that must be used to attempt a linguistic and ethnic prehistory of eastern Central Asia.
In the end, their "working hypothesis" is that the earliest Bronze Age colonists of the Tarim Basin were people of Caucasoid physical type who entered probably from the north and west, and probably spoke languages that could be classified as Pre- or Proto-Tocharian, ancestral to the Indo-European Tocharian languages documented later in the Tarim Basin. These early settlers occupied the northern and eastern parts of the Tarim Basin, where their graves have yielded mummies dated about 1800 B.C. They did not arrive from Europe, but probably had lived earlier near the Altai Mountains, where their ancestors had participated in a cultural world centered on the eastern steppes of central Eurasia, including modern northeastern Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tadjikistan. At the eastern end of the Tarim Basin, people of Mongoloid physical type began to be buried in cemeteries such as Yanbulaq some centuries later, during the later second or early first millennium B.C. About the same time, Iranian-speaking people moved into the Tarim Basin from the steppes to the west. Their linguistic heritage and perhaps their physical remains are found in the southern and western portions of the Tarim. These three populations interacted, as the linguistic and archaeological evidence reviewed by Mallory and Mair makes clear, and then Turkic peoples arrived and were added to the mix. The Tarim Mummies J.P. Mallory and Victor Mair New York: Thames and Hudson, 2000 $50.00 (cloth); 352 pages
(It is my opinion that we Caucasians have lost track of some of our relatives because they adopted Chinese names, customs and etc. and migrated to the South of China...and even to Korea and Japan where they ran into another group of Caucasians known as the Ainu...The same as Kennewick Man!)
An Unexpected 3,000-Year-Old Mummy
This Cherchen woman lived around 1000 B.C. and stood more than 6 feet tall. She was buried in a red dress and white deerskin boots. Though found in China, evidence suggests she came from Europe. (Elizabeth Wayland Barber/Norton)
His face is at rest, eyes closed and sunken, lips slightly parted; his hands lie in his lap, while his knees and head are tilted up like a man who has just drifted off to sleep in his hammock. Visitors tend to tiptoe and lower their voices.
Mummies found around Ürümchi knock the idea that ancient China was free of any Western influence. (Magellan Geographix/ ABCNEWS.com)
A two-inch beard covers his face Here and there white hairs glint among the yellow-brown, betraying his age somewhere past 50. He would have been an imposing figure in life, for he once stood six feet six inches tall.
So writes Elizabeth Barber of the one known as Cherchen Man.
Clad in finely woven woolens, he almost looks as if he could rise out of bed and begin another day in what must have been a difficult life.
Cherchen Man has been dead for about 3,000 years. Though his lips no longer move, he speaks volumes about the first settlers in a bleak desert along Chinas fabled Silk Road. Until a few years ago, he was the last man scholars would have expected to find there.
Uncovering an Unexpected Past
Cherchen Man, along with dozens of other perfectly preserved mummies found in Turkestan, in western China, has stood archaeology on its ears.
Although the mummies have been known to exist for decades, no one paid them much attention until 1987 when Victor Mair, professor of Chinese studies at the University of Pennsylvania, came across them while leading a group of tourists through an obscure museum in the town of Ürümchi (also spelled Ürümqi ).
Mair was stunned, and not just because their clothing was perfectly preserved. The mummies, he believed, were Caucasian, with high-bridged noses, deep, round eye sockets, and fair hair.
How had they come to be there, so long before any Westerners were thought to have crossed the Ural Mountains into Asia? The implications are profound, suggesting that Westerners may have influenced Chinese culture, which had been thought to arise independently of the West.
Cherchen Man was found in a tomb with three women and a baby. How had they died? Why did they settle in a desert so severe that many have died traveling from one oasis to the next? Were they really from the West?
Mair assembled a team of experts to see what the mummies could tell us. Among them was Elizabeth Barber, professor of archaeology and linguistics at Occidental College in Los Angeles.
For Barber, author of a recently released book, The Mummies of Ürümchi, it was an opportunity she had been preparing for ever since she learned to weave at her mothers knee. Barber and Irene Good, another team member, are among the worlds leading experts on prehistoric textiles.
The stacks of clothing buried with the mummies were unlike anything seen before. It just blew me away, Barber says.
For 13 years, Barber had rummaged through Europe from England to Iran, examining the oldest textiles she could find. Outside of Egypt, that consisted of just thumbnail-size fragments.
Even those tiny samples yielded clues about the laborious chore of creating clothing. She learned what kinds of looms they used to weave which patterns, and what raw materials they used.
So when she arrived in Ürümqi, she came with a wealth of understanding, but nothing had prepared her for what she saw.
It was like handling 19th century fabric, she says. The mummies had been buried in a salt basin, and the salt kept the material dry.
Clothing Was Non-Native Wool
The first thing that struck me was that it was all sheeps wool, and that really surprised me. I had expected most of it to be plant fiber, she says.
Sheep arent indigenous to that part of the world, so those early travelers must have brought sheep with them from the west. The fabric patterns must have been woven on looms similar to those used to create the scraps she found in eastern Europe.
That, along with other clues grains of wheat were found in some tombs, and wheat is not indigenous to the region was clear evidence that Cherchen Man was a product of Europe. So, too, were less well-preserved mummies of others found throughout the area, some of whom had died 1,000 years earlier.
Why had they gone to that area, which even today is so desolate that few live there? How had they died?
A Late Addition to a Sealed Tomb
Unlike other tombs in the area, Cherchen Mans final resting place was not designed to be reopened, Barber says. He was buried with the three women, one of whom is presumed to be his wife, and the tomb was sealed.
A few weeks later, the babys body, also well preserved, was placed above the main burial chamber. The baby, about 3 months old, was wrapped in a bright red shroud. Alongside was a sheep udder fashioned into a nursing bottle.
It is clear that they (other members of the community) tried to keep the baby alive after the mother and father had died, Barber says, so this wasnt a case of killing the entire family so all could accompany the man into the next life.
None of the mummies show any sign of violence. They apparently died, Barber surmises, from an epidemic.
Still unknown, however, is why they were there in the first place.
Suprises one where those who value truth can be found. Certainly WE have lost that in archaeology awhile ago. Long term it will be an enormous disservice to humanity.
I am often struck when reading about archaeolgical discoveries how very little we still know about early civilizations. Often, textbook wisdom is shown to be wrong.
Cherchen Man, 3,000 years old.
Magyars have nothing to do with China. Uralic peoples origionate in the steppe between teh Capsian and Aral Seas and the up the Ural mountains on the east side of the Volga river.
The Magyars and affiliated tribes swept into the upper Danube and Panagonian plain in the late 9th century.
Reconstructed face of The Beauty Of Loulan