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Mummies in silks found in China desert

December 17, 1996
Web posted at: 9:15 p.m. EST

(CNN) -- A pair of mummies estimated to be nearly 2,000 years old have been discovered in the desolate desert sands of northwest China.

The bodies of a man and a woman were wrapped in colorful silk clothes, leading archaeologists to believe they were members of the local nobility during the Han Dynasty that flourished from 202 BC to 220 AD.

The bodies were not embalmed, but the dry desert air has preserved the remains, archaeologists said. The area, on the edge of the Takla Makan Desert, once lay on the "silk road," the ancient route linking China with the West.

Several artifacts were found with the bodies, including a bow, arrows, arrow shafts and a scabbard with the man, and a bronze mirror, a double-edged comb and cosmetics with the woman. Among other finds was a piece of silk cloth with Chinese characters that scientists said was part of an ancient text on astronomy.

Mummies have been recovered from the region three times in the past decade, but scientists consider this to be the most remarkable find yet.


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