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BOOKS ABOUT WORLD MUMMIES

The Tarim Mummies: Ancient China and the Mysteries of the Earliest People in the West

by J. P. Mallory & Victor Mair

 

The Tarim Mummies: Ancient China  and the Mysteries of the Earliest Peoples in the West by J. P. Mallory & Victor Mair is the latest book about the Tarim mummies. The book will necessarily be compared to Barber's The Mummies of Ürümchi, which described the Cherchen mummies (a sub-category of the Tarim mummies) in masterful detail.

Mallory and Mair's book is a different book altogether. It will disappoint those who want a beautifully-written, compelling story of the Tarim mummies (à la Barber). It will not disappoint anyone, however, who wants to know more about the 500+ mostly-Caucasian mummies found in this part of the world and expects the photos to go along with it. Make no mistake: their book is well-written, but it is written in the scholarly "we" in most chapters, which serves to distance the reader a bit. The best chapters are the ones that are most personal: an introduction and two chapters on the mummies themselves.

These two exciting chapters include well-detailed descriptions (often with drawing and photos) of specific mummies that have been found and not always well-publicized. These include the Beauty of Loulan (called Korarän here), the Scream Baby (with its poignant and disturbing story) and a number of mummies found in Subeshi (part of the Turpan group). These latter mummies include three "witches" (so named because of their tall thin hats--quite unusual and well-displayed in the book). The most recent discovery, as of the book's publication, was the Yingpän mummy which featured a face mask, possibly made from layers of hemp.

A well-designed book, The Tarim Mummies presents a thorough background on the migration of people and languages into the Tarim basin area. Like Barber's, it also includes a chapter on textiles. But the main source of interest will be Chapters 5 (The Mummies Themselves) and 10 (Who Were the Mummies?).

With 190 excellent illustrations, including 13 color photos.

 

Table of Contents

 

Introduction: Rediscovery

1. Beyond the Centers: Tarim Between East and West

2. East Central Asia: Players at the Center of the Board

3. The Linguistic Landscape

4. The Testimony of the Hoe

5. The Mummies Themselves

6. Tartans in the Tarim

7. Skulls, Genes and Knights With Long Swords

8. The Usual Suspects: The Indo-Iranians

9. Tocharian Trekkers

10. Who Were the Mummies?

11. Legacy

Appendix One: On the Tocharian Problems

Appendix Two: Radiocarbon Dates from Selected Sites

Bibliography, Sources of Illustrations, Acknowledgments, and Index

 

 

Order 
Tarim Mummies
from
Amazon.com
 
Hardcover

 

Paperback

 

 
 

 

 

 

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