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The Mummies of Ürümchi by Elizabeth…
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The Mummies of Ürümchi (1999)

by Elizabeth Wayland Barber

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I would recommend reading the hardback version rather than the paperback..the maps and photos are reduced to the point of uselessness. And some of the maps weren't that great to begin with.

That said, this is a highly readable account. The detailed analysis is a visual one - based on close observation of how textiles were made and fashioned into garments. It does not contain a forensic analysis of the bodies themselves.

It is a shame the book is being sold as a 'mystery' with the (possible) blue -eyed, tartan- weaving folk presented (by the publisher, not the author)as some kind of lost tribe of Celts. It is an interesting account in its own right and the preservation of the textiles and the features of the mummies is amazing enough without a need to sensationalise. ( )
  dylkit | Feb 3, 2014 |
A Weaver looks at the mummies being found in Western China. A great book on the history of weaving, or rather, the evolution of weaving. ( )
  RGKronschnabel | Jun 29, 2010 |
Ten years ago I spent a very cold snowy week in Urumchi waiting for my husband to pitch up from the Mongolian border. To while away the time, I went to the local museum which although technically open had all the lighting switched off. After some persuasion, which involved the greasing of palms, I persuaded one of the museum attendants to leave her cosy little room at the entrance and let me follow her through freezing, dark corridors to a gallery where she finally switched on a couple of lights and there, in dusty glass cases, I saw these amazing mummies. I had not known what I was going to see, and had no background information about them, but they were absolutely fascinating, and made me realise just how long the Silk Road had been in existance as one of mankind's great thoroughfares across our globe. A couple of years later this book was published and I fell on it with glee. It helped me understand what I had seen and put it in historical context. Barber is an expert in ancient textiles, so much of the book is devoted to the fabrics found wrapping and clothing the mummies however if anyone is paying a visit to this remote western part of China it is a book well worth reading in advance as it explains so much about the region and it's ancient history. ( )
2 vote herschelian | Feb 13, 2007 |
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To Paul who supported me in a thousand ways AND to Irene and Victor who became valued friends during an unforgettable expedition
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393045218, Hardcover)

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 Caucasoid origin. Where did these people come from? Where did they go? You can find their pale-skinned, light-haired descendents 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 colored 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 color photos, maps, and diagrams illustrate Barber's colorful tale of anthropology. --Therese Littleton

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:24:18 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In 1994, the Western China well-preserved mummies dating back 2000 years were unearthed what these six-foot-tall, fair haired caucasian people were doing in China. Barber structures as a mystery, revealing information piecemeal until she presents her conclusion.… (more)

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W.W. Norton

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