Mysterious Mummies of China

A Perfectly Preserved Mummy
A Perfectly Preserved Mummy

This is an hour-long programme made for the PBS Nova Series about the European looking mummies discovered in the Taklamakan Desert.

In 1987 James Mair, a Professor specialising in Chinese studies came across almost perfectly preserved mummies in the Urumqi museum and has been interested in them ever since.

The mummies are unusual in that they were not embalmed but have simply survived because of the extreme dryness of their burial ground in the desert.

Along with two other specialists and the Nova team he travelled back to the region to try and discover more about their origins.

Giant Fertility Carvings
Giant Fertility Carvings

Along with their bodies, which have distinctly European features, other things like their clothing and other artifacts have also survived and it proved possible to reconstruct not only where they came from but also many things about their life and provenance.

The programme also includes a visit to one of the ancient Buddhist caves, where we see similar looking peoples in murals worshipping the various Buddhas. Who these people were and what happened to them later is the subject of the programme.

The mummies reappear in a section of tomorrow night’s Silk Road series, but this programme gives many more details about them.

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