The discoveries made in the Tarim river basin ameliorate the brazen paradigms of our past assumptions, enabling us to gain a better understanding of the circumstances that encouraged the migration, dissemination, and development of people and cultures across the planet.
One of the reasons this discovery was so extraordinary was because of the unprecedented condition in which the corpses were found. The Xiaohe people were not mummified in the traditional sense like the Egyptians. Rather than it being an active decision, it was the natural conditions and climate of the Tarim river basin which enabled their natural preservation which was initially attributed to purposeful mummification. We owe their superb state of their condition to the dry, arid, climate, and the salty, porous soil in which they were buried.
It has long been thought and generally accepted by western scholars that Europeans, after diverging from their homo-genetic ancestors tens of thousands of years a go, developed more or less on their own in the mid and northern parts of Europe. Just as it has been widely accepted that when mankind began moving east through Asia, they themselves developed both genetically and culturally in isolation from the rest of the world, a conviction that was held even more closely by the Chinese.
This notion of complete isolation of Asian and European ancestry during millennia of racial differentiation was so strongly ingrained as fact, that even when European scholars came across ancient Chinese documents alluding to the presence of people with Caucasian attributes living near by, the scholars dismissed the accounts as instances of genetic abnormalities among genetically Asian people, or even that such writings were nothing more than tall tales. Its only discoveries like this one that show that Europeans entered the Tarim Basin many millennia prior to the 12th Century AD, when Europeans were known to have traded on the silk road.
A study from the journal Human Genetics says DNA analysis “confirm[s] that at the Bronze and Iron Ages, south Siberia was a region of overwhelmingly predominant European settlements, suggesting an eastward migration of [Kurgan], fair-skinned and light-haired people, might have played a role in the early development of the Tarim Basin civilization.” (Keyser) Another study published by The Royal Society further supports the Kurgan hypothesis stating, “The presence of an ancient genetic substratum of European origin in West Asia may be related to the discovery of ancient mummies with European features in Xinjiang.” (Lalueza-Fox) It is now widely believed that these Indo-Europeans inhabited these central Asian lands up until just about two thousand years a go. That means that before the large migrations of Asian peoples from east Asia, at the beginning of the common era during the iron age, the people living in central Asia would have more closely resembled modern day Europeans than they would have modern day Asians. It was only with in the last two thousand years that the people living in eastern Asia were actually of Asian dissent. (Li) Willerslev’s genetic analysis of remains from that era provides further evidence to support the hypothesis that the Yamnaya people did not just diffuse up through Europe, but also much farther east than had ever been thought. It now seems that at the very least, these Caucasian people moved through to the region where Siberia, China and Mongolia all meet.
Other historians have pointed out similarities between the burial rituals of the Small River people and burial practices common in ancient Egypt. The Egyptians believed that the pharos would need the boat to travel to the heavens in the afterlife. The Small River people were treated very delicately and respectively during their burials. In their coffins they were placed with jewelry, clothes, and other belongings seemingly so they might be able to take these things with them into the afterlife. Because of the great care that went into preparation of the desist, and their burial with what were certainly meaningful belongings, it is quite evident that these people also revered the dead and believed quite strongly in an afterlife.
Discovering Caucasians in an area they were not thought to have traveled to for thousands of years highlights a great fault in the dissemination of knowledge. The greatest hurdle faced by historians and scientists who seek to understand the transformation of the human condition into its modern-day manifestation is having to scrutinize all new information against past assumptions so that a comprehensive and cohesive timeline of mankind’s most decisive cultural variations and migrations may be established.