Xinjiang mummies

Sat Feb 6 06:24:24 UTC 1999

[ moderator re-formatted ]

Just a note that I was present a year or so ago at a Smithsonian presentation
of this material, I think a series of lectures by several speakers, covering
chariots, horse burials, metallurgy, language (Ringe), genetics, etc.

I remained skeptical even after all the lectures, since it is so easy for
folks to emphasize what they wish to see, but to a linguist familiar with the
principle of shared innovations to determine subgrouping, a principle that
applies not merely to innovations in language, a central point would be that
the separation of these folks from the IE body were very early, and that the
separation of the Hittites, Celts, and Tocharians (the last Xinjiang?) from
the IE stem were also fairly early, the conclusion must be that these probably
represent shared retentions, not shared innovations, and thus show an archaic
level, not some special relations of Celts and Xinjian mummies (or: Celts and

Read in that light (which we can understand newspaper articles are
not likely to convey clearly), the content seems less unreasonable.
That does not mean I have enough facts to regard the conclusions
as unassailable.

But not unreasonable either, when stated conservatively.

Lloyd Anderson
Ecological Linguistics

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