Cherchen Man

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Cherchen Man or Chärchän Man is among the best-known of the Tarim mummies. His naturally-mummified remains were discovered in Tomb 2 at the cemetery of Zaghunluq near the town of Qiemo (Cherchen) in the Taklamakan Desert, Xinjiang, north-west China. The man died around 1000 BCE.[1]

The mummy is an adult male with caucasoid facial features. While an early estimate suggested that had been 198 cm (6 feet 6 inches) tall, the archaeologists J. P. Mallory and Victor Mair put the man's height at no more than 165 cm (5' 5").[2] His hair was "reddish brown flecked with grey, framing high cheekbones", he had an "aquiline" "long nose, full lips and a ginger beard", and was wearing "a red twill tunic" and leggings with a pattern resembling "tartan." Yellow and reddish patterns on the face of Cherchen Man have been identified as tattoos in some sources, but are more likely ochre paint.[3] The man is often described as looking "like a Bronze Age European" and/or as resembling "a Celt",[4][5][6][1] However, Cherchen Man was more likely connected to the so-called Afanasevo culture – an Indo-European people located in Siberia during the 4th and 3rd Millennia BCE.

Also present in Tomb 2 were a female mummy known as "Cherchen Woman" and an infant known as the "Blue Baby".[7]

The exceptional preservation of ancient remains recovered from the Tarim Basin was enabled by natural mummification – a result of the arid conditions. Other such remains have also been recovered at sites throughout the Tarim, including Qäwrighul, Yanghai, Shengjindian, Shanpula, and Qizilchoqa.[8] Like other mummies from the Tarim, Cherchen Man was buried in a tomb made of mud bricks topped with reeds and brush. He is especially well-preserved due to the conditions he was buried in. The desert's dry conditions as well as its salty soil provided a suitable climate for mummification. Extremely cold temperatures would have killed any bacteria that contributed to the decay, and the "thick clothes and socks made of rainbow-colored wool" suggest he was buried in the winter. [9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b J. Hare, The mysteries of the Gobi Desert. Taylor & Francis, 2009.
  2. ^ Mallory, JP; Mair, Victor H. (2000). The Tarim Mummies. London: Thames & Hudson. p. 190. ISBN 0-500-05101-1. 
  3. ^ Mallory, JP; Mair, Victor H. (2000). The Tarim Mummies. London: Thames & Hudson. p. 194. ISBN 0-500-05101-1. 
  4. ^ Bernstein, Richard (13 January 1999). "BOOKS OF THE TIMES; Silent Giants as Guides on an Ancient Thoroughfare". Retrieved 26 August 2017. 
  5. ^ "US". Retrieved 26 August 2017. 
  6. ^ Jones, Tim (21 July 2009). "Ötzi: Iceman’s Tattoos Were Born In Fire". Retrieved 26 August 2017. 
  7. ^ Skinner, Tomás. "The Mummies of Zaghunluq Cemetery: Dress, Appearance and Identity". Archived from the original on 24 November 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2015. 
  8. ^ Deter-Wolf, Aaron; Robitaille, Benoît; Krutak, Lars; Galliot, Sébastien (February 2016). "The World's Oldest Tattoos". Journal of Archaeological Science:Reports. 5: 19–24. doi:10.1016/j.jasrep.2015.11.007. 
  9. ^ (2006). "The Desert Makes MUMMIES". Ask 5(2), 13.