The Three Thousand Year Old Chärchän Man Preserved at Zaghunluq: Abstract Account of a Tomb Excavation in Chärchän County of Uyghuristan

by Dolkun Kamberi

Chärchän county is located in the south-east of the big desert of the Tarim Basin, at the northern foot of the Qurum and Altun mountain ranges. It was formerly one of the ancient cities of the Tarim Basin oasis corridor.

Since ancient times, the Chärchänians have lived in this mysterious, attractive, fruitful oasis corridor along the Tarim Basin and the Silk Road. They have enjoyed the pure, sweet spring water and running rivers which originated from the Altun, Kökart (Pamir), Qurum and Qara-Qurum mountains, and have tilled the land on both sides of the Tarim river. Here they created a unique Tarim civilization, which shone like a pearl in the cultural history of Uyghuristan.

At the beginning of this century, numerous archeological teams from various countries carried out many excavations along the Silk Road. Although archeologists had discovered invaluable cultural relics from these regions, a big gap remained in the field of archeological culture studies in the eastern and southern part of the Tarim Basin. Despite scattered archeological achievements in the eastern part of Uyghuristan, scholars were still unable to recover entire cultural treasures which remain deposited under the sands of the Taklimakan.

Since 1950, several Uyghur archeologists have done numerous archeological investigations along the lower valleys of the Tarim river in Lopnur and Charqiliq counties of Uyghuristan. Archeological excavations were also conducted in the eastern part of ancient Kiruran in the lower Konchi river valley in 1979 and 1980. But because of limited staff and funding as well as other reasons, this was only a beginning.

The territory of the ancient Kiruran Kingdom covered approximately 900 square kilometers. Numerous ruins, sites and ancient tombs of the kingdom remain under the sands. Of the artifacts unearthed in the eastern part of the kingdom, in Kiruran and the Konchi river valley, and in the western part of the kingdom, in Niya and Chärchän, many are well preserved, as are a considerable number of the ancient tombs from both regions. The relics excavated consist mostly of woolen fabrics; wood, bone and horn implements; stone arrowheads, wooden arrows, baskets, hampers and the like have also been found. The well-preserved human bodies unearthed from the tombs had deep-set eyes, long pointed noses, thin lips and yellowish brown hair over their shoulders....