Archeology and History of the Silk Road

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Thursday, 29 January 2015

800 million modern men are descended from a handful of ancient leaders - including Genghis Khan

The 11 fathers of Asia: 800 million modern men are descended from a handful of ancient leaders - including Genghis Khan

  • Scientists from the University of Leicester traced DNA in modern men to 'founding fathers' that lived across Asia between 1300BC and 1100AD
  • The geneticists traced each the eleven lineages back to their potential roots in the Middle East, India, China, Mongolia and south east Asia
  • They analysed Y chromosomes from 5,000 men from 127 populations
  • 16 million men are thought to be directly descended from Genghis Khan
  • 1.5 million are descended from 14th Century Chinese leader Giocangga

More than 800 million men living today are descended from just eleven men, including the ruthless Mongolian leader Genghis Khan, according to new research.
Geneticists have been able to find eleven distinctive sequences in Y-chromosomes - the chunk of DNA that is only carried by men - that are persistent in modern populations in Asia.
By systematically analysing the DNA of more than 5,000 men, they have been able to trace these male lineages to their approximate 'founding fathers'.

This map shows ten of the 11 lineages (labelled DC) with the approximate date when they originated and how they appear to have spread around the continent. The arrows show how the lineage may have spread
This map shows ten of the 11 lineages (labelled DC) with the approximate date when they originated and how they appear to have spread around the continent. The arrows show how the lineage may have spread

They found that along with Khan, who is reputed to have sired hundreds of children as his hoards cut a swathe across much of Asia, they traced ten other lineages.
These are thought to originate from the Middle East to Southeast Asia between 2100BC and 1100AD.
They found that 37.8 per cent of the 5,000 men they tested belonged to one of these eleven lineages.

SEARCHING FOR GENGHIS KHAN'S TOMB FROM SPACE

Scientists are using space-age technology to help them find the final resting place of the first Mongolian emperor Genghis Khan.
Although he ruled an empire that extended over most of Asia, the final resting place of the Mongol leader remains a mystery. 
He died in 1227 at the age of 72 after a sudden illness. Legend says that as his body was carried to its final resting place, anyone encountered along the route was put to the sword before those escorting the body also killed themselves, to keep its location a secret.
Researchers at the University of California have used crowdsourcing to scour more than 84,000 satellite images of a part of Mongolia where his body is suspected to be.
By searching an area of 2,316 square miles, they have been able to identify 55 potential sites for where the great Mongol warlords body may now lie.
If this is reflected in the entire Asian population, then it could mean around 830 million men living in Asia currently owe their Y-chromosomes to one of these eleven men.
Among them is a lineage that has previously been attributed to a Chinese ruler called Giocangga, who died in 1583 and whose grandson founded the Qing Dynasty that ruled China between 1644 and 1912.
Giocangga is thought to have had many children with his wives and concubines and is the direct male ancestor of more than 1.5 million men.
The researchers also found that another of the lineages appears to have population clusters that are concentrated along the Silk Road trading route and date back to around 850AD.
This suggests they may have their origins among the powerful rulers who dominated the steppes where the route passed - the Khitan, Tangut Xia, Juchin, Kara-Khitan and Mongol empires.
The researchers suggest that Abaoji, Emperor Taizu of Liao and the Great Khan of the Khitans, who died in 926AD in the Khitan area of China, is a possible candidate for the father of this lineage. 
Professor Mark Jobling, a geneticist at the University of Leicester who led the work, which is published in the European Journal of Human Genetics, said that more research was needed before they could identify the individuals.
The founding fathers who lived between 2100BC and 300BC appear to have existed in both sedentary agricultural societies and nomadic tribes, he added.

Genghis Khan is thought to have fathered hundreds of children as his armies conquered much of Asia while his sons also continued to spread his Y-chromosome around the world as they expanded the Mongol empire

Writing in the European of Human Genetics, he said: 'High reproductive success is often associated with high social status, ‘prestigious’ men having higher intramarital fertility, lower offspring mortality and access to a greater than average number of wives.
'Those with recent origins in the historical period are almost exclusively found in Altaic-speaking pastoral nomadic populations, which may reflect a shift in political organisation in pastoralist economies and a greater ease of transmission of Y-chromosomes through time and space facilitated by the use of horses.
'New social systems and economic adaptations emerged after horse domestication.
'Horse-riding greatly enhanced both east–west connections and north–south trade between Siberia and southerly regions, and allowed new techniques of warfare, a key element explaining the successes of mobile pastoralists in their conflicts with more sedentary societies.'

One of the male lineages that have come to dominate in Asia appears to have originated from one of the empires that sprung up along the Silk Route, depicted here in this Catalan nautical map from 1325-1387
One of the male lineages that have come to dominate in Asia appears to have originated from one of the empires that sprung up along the Silk Route, depicted here in this Catalan nautical map from 1325-1387

The researchers analysed the Y chromosomes of 5,321 men from 127 different populations around Asia.
They found 11 common Y chromosome sequences that cropped up repeatedly in the genomes they examined. 
By searching these for distinctive random mutations that accumulate over time they were able to estimate roughly when these Y chromosome sequences originated.
Giocangga, grandfather of the Qing ruler Emperor Nurhaci (above), is thought to be directly related to 1.5 million men now living in China and Mongolia
Giocangga, grandfather of the Qing ruler Emperor Nurhaci (above), is thought to be directly related to 1.5 million men now living in China and Mongolia
Looking at the distribution of these sequences in the populations they tested also allowed them to estimate where they may have originated by looking for clusters.
Previous research conducted in 2003 had shown that almost 16 million men across the world could be related to the Mongol leader Genghis Khan, who died in 1227.
Scientists traced a cluster of extremely similar Y-chromosomes back to a single ancestor living in Mongolia around 800 years ago.
They believe the only man with the opportunity to father enough children would have been the Mongolian warlord.
Within 80 years he built an empire that covered much of China, Iran, Pakistan, Korea and South Russia.
The empire he founded went on to stretch across much of Asia and into Europe, meaning there was potential for his descendants to spread his genes far and wide. 
Tom Robinson, an accountancy professor whose ancestors came from the Lake District, was the first man outside Asia to be identified as carrying the Khan chromosome.
It was found that Professor Robinson's paternal forebears came from the Caucasus near the Black Sea. 
Similar work found Giocangga was also the most probably origin of another distinct Y chromosome found in modern China and Mongolia.
However, tracing the other dominant Y chromosomes to other individuals will require similar educated guesswork by looking for men who had the power and potential to sire large numbers of children at around the right time that the sequences are found to originally occur.

GENGHIS KHAN AND THE RISE OF THE MONGOL EMPIRE

Genghis Khan was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire. 
In the early 1200s he united the tribes, creating a military state that invaded its neighbours and expanded, soon ruling most of what would become modern Korea, China, Russia, eastern Europe, southeast Asia, Persia and India.
Khan made himself master of half the known world, and inspired mankind with a fear that lasted for generations.
He was a prolific lover, fathering hundreds of children across his territories. Some scientists think he has 16 million male descendants alive today.
By the time he died in August 1227, the Mongol Empire covered a vast part of Central Asia and China.
Originally known as Temüjin of the Borjigin, legend has it Genghis was born holding a clot of blood in his hand. 
His father was Khan, or emperor, of a small tribe but was murdered when Temüjin was still young.
The new tribal leader wanted nothing to do with Temujin's family, so with his mother and five other children, Temüjin was cast out and left to die.
In all, Genghis conquered almost four times the lands of Alexander the Great. He is still revered in Mongolia and in parts of China. 
One of the 'founding fathers' appears to have lived in what is now northern Turkey in 700BC while another came from Iran in around 1100AD.
Others seem to originate around 2100BC and 1500BC in southeast Asia. Around this time farming populations were moving down through Burma into Laos, Thailand and Cambodia, leading to the Mon and Khmer empires.
The only way to know for sure who these 11 founding fathers were will be to find their remains and extract DNA.
If the tomb of leaders like Genghis Khan are ever unearthed, it could result in the ultimate paternity test for millions of men around the world.
Chris Tyler-Smith, an evolutionary geneticist now at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, UK, who led that orginal study in 2003, told Nature: 'Looking for these links is fascinating. 
'When we did it, we were using pretty indirect lines of reasoning, and you could try and do that with each of these lineages.
'What I really hope is that at some point someone will find Genghis Khan's tomb and remains.'


Mongol Khans: Patrons of Islam

Morris Rossabi will give a lecture " Kublai Khan's Legacy: Inner- Asian Influence on Chinese Art" on the 19th of February 2015 in one of the most beautiful locations in the world, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

It's not his first lecture.
As an appetizer for this coming lecture in Amsterdam, watch his lecture from 2012 "Mongol Khans: Patrons of Islam"


Speaker: Dr. Morris Rossabi
When: July 14, 2012
Where: Shangri La Hawai
In the initial stages of their thirteenth-century invasions of the Islamic world, the Mongol Khans killed untold numbers of people and caused considerable damage in the areas they subjugated. Yet after their conquests, Kublai Khan, his brother Hulegu, and other Mongol rulers promoted various Islamic orders, fostered agriculture and commerce, and patronized poets and historians in the Middle East and Iran, as well as Islamic communities in Russia and China. This colorful presentation, using images from 13th and 14th century Islamic arts, describes these remarkable developments and also shows the Mongols' contributions to Islamic art and architecture throughout their domains. It aims to provide a balanced portrait of Mongol influence on Islamic societies, cultures, and arts.
Dr. Morris Rossabi is a professor of Inner Asian and East Asian history at Columbia University, New York. He is the author of Modern Mongolia: From Khans to Commissars to Capitalists (University of California Press, 2005) and Khubilai Khan: His Life and Times (University of California Press, 1988). He has helped to organize exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.

Face of tattooed mummified princess finally revealed after 2,500 years

Siberian Times   by Anna Liesowska

Taxidermy expert uses painstaking techniques to create first ever replica of the ice maiden found preserved in the Siberian high altitude plateau.
'One of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the 20th century'. Picture: The Siberian Times 
The first replica face has been created of the famous tattooed Siberian princess found mummified and preserved after almost 2,500 years in permafrost. A Swiss expert has used special taxidermy techniques to build an accurate reconstruction of the ice maiden who was uncovered by archaeologists in 1993.
Known as Princess Ukok, after the high altitude plateau on which she was discovered, her body was decorated in the best-preserved, and most elaborate, ancient art ever found. While her discovery was exciting, particularly given how intact her remains were, her face and neck skin had deteriorated, with no real clue as to what she once looked like.
However, now her face has been revealed to the world for the first time following the work by Swiss taxidermist Marcel Nyffenegger.
Mr Nyffenegger, who lives in the small town of Schaffhausen, was asked to work on a likeness of Princess Ukok for the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer, Germany. While he has expertise in stuffing animals, his main passion is the reconstruction of the faces of ancient peoples, including the Neanderthals.
Working with a 3-D model of the mummy’s skull, he spent a month painstakingly piecing together her facial muscles and tissue layers as well as reconstructing her skin structure, eyes and expression.
The resulting plasticine model was then covered with silicone and a rubber-resin mixture before finer details such as eyebrows and eyelashes were added. More than 100,000 individual strands of hair were used to give the princess her flocking locks, a process that in itself took two whole weeks.
'That two weeks took me to the brink of insanity', the expert confessed. 'I didn’t spend more than two or three hours a day on that part because it was very boring and neck pain literally forced me to do something else'.
Face of tattooed mummified princess finally revealed after 2,500 years

Face of tattooed mummified princess finally revealed after 2,500 years
The reconstruction of Princess Ukok is on display at the museum in Germany. Pictures: Marcel Nyffenegger

The mummy was excavated by Novosibirsk scientist Natalia Polosmak and was heralded as 'one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the 20th century'.
Thought to be about 25 years old when she died, she was found preserved in permafrost in the Altai Mountains at an altitude of about 2,500 metres, with two men also discovered nearby. Buried around her were six horses, saddled and bridled and said to have been her spiritual escorts to the next world, along with a meal of sheep and horse meat.
Archaeologists also found ornaments made from felt, wood, bronze and gold as well as a small container of cannabis and a stone plate on which coriander seeds were burned. From her clothes and possessions including a 'cosmetics bag', scientists were able to recreate her fashion and beauty secrets.
She was dressed in a long shirt made from Chinese silk, and had long felt sleeve boots with a beautiful decoration on them. At this time Chinese silk was only ever found in royal burials of the Pazyrk people, and since it was more expensive than gold it gave an indication of her wealth and status.
Her head was completely shaved, and she wore a horse hair wig on top of which was a carving of a wooden deer.
The princess’s face and neck skin was not preserved, but the skin of her left arm survived. The most exciting discovery was her elaborate body art, which many observers said bore striking similarities to modern-day tattoos. On her left shoulder was a fantastical mythological animal made up of a deer with a griffon’s beak and a Capricorn’s antlers. The antlers themselves were decorated with the heads of griffons.
The mouth of a spotted panther with a long tail could also be seen, and she had a deer’s head on her wrist.
Face of tattooed mummified princess finally revealed after 2,500 years

Face of tattooed mummified princess finally revealed after 2,500 years
'The face is very accurate to how Princess Ukok actually looked'. Pictures: The Siberian Times, Marcel Nyffenegger

She is believed to have been between 25 and 28 years old and about 1.62 metres tall. Her remains were treated by the same scientists in Moscow who preserved the body of former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin. Being able to see what she once looked like is an exciting development for archaeologists and historians.
Marcel, whose Twitter account features images of his reconstructions of Neanderthal man, said he believes the face is very accurate to how Princess Ukok actually looked. He said: 'With such a soft tissue reconstruction, purely based on the bone structure, we have achieved an accuracy of 75 per cent of the former appearance of the woman. The remaining 25 per cent was our interpretation since, for example, we were missing parts of the nasal bone and thus an accurate reconstruction was not possible.
'The scull itself shows where the muscles were located and which form and thickness they had and shows the points at which the skin lied directly on the bone.
'And as for the facial expressions, it is important that I feel the person that I am creating. The more information the archaeologists give me, such as in which climate the people lived, what they ate, and if they were a warrior or a farmer, then the better I can do'.
Last year the Siberian Times told how Princess Ukok is set to be buried in her own special mausoleum, with plans submitted for a permanent memorial and final resting place. She spent most of the past two decades at a scientific institute in Novosibirsk, and is now at the Republican National Museum in Gorno-Altaisk, sparking anger among the local people in the Altai Mountain region who want her re-buried.
Ancient beliefs dictate that her presence in the burial chamber had been to “bar the entrance to the kingdom of the dead”. Elders insisted that removing the mummified remains meant this doorway to the other world is now open and that her anger has already caused a series of floods and earthquakes.
But now the revered princess could finally be repatriated to her original resting place in the Ukok plateau, with a beautiful mausoleum built on top.
The reconstruction of Princess Ukok is on display at the museum in Germany.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Three new life size Buddha statues discovered at Mes Aynak


Incredible news! THREE new life size Buddha statues were just discovered by Afghan archaeologists at Mes Aynak! 
One is complete and untouched by looters. 
This proves there is SO MUCH yet to discover at the ancient archaeological city of Mes Aynak, Afghanistan.
Archaeologists are racing around the clock as the site could be destroyed at any time by a Chinese copper mining company.
Please like and share. More images to come!
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Lecture 19 Febr: Kublai Khan's Legacy- Inner Asian Influence on Chinese Art

ILIAS International Institute for Asian Studies- Leiden

 Februar   
 2015

19

  
2015


Kublai Khan's legacy: Inner Asian Influence on Chinese art

Lecture by Professor Morris Rossabi (Columbia University / The City University of New York), organized by the Asia Pavilion of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and IIAS, in cooperation with the Vereniging van Vrienden der Aziatische Kunst.
The lecture
This slide-illustrated presentation challenges the conventional wisdom that portrays the thirteenth-century Mongolians as merely destroyers, killers, rapists, and plunderers. Although the lecture does not minimize the massacres and destruction wrought by the Mongolians, it also reveals their contributions to the arts and culture in China. Khubilai Khan, in particular, supported several of the most prominent Chinese painters, recruited Muslim weavers to add new motifs in Chinese textiles, appointed Mongolians to supervise the spectacular porcelain industry, and commissioned Tibetan and Nepalese painters and artisans to produce portraits of the Imperial family and to construct remarkable buildings in Dadu (or Beijing). Marco Polo, whose book introduced Khubilai to the West, was himself dazzled by the extraordinary art and culture he encountered in Mongol-ruled China.
To be sure, the Mongolians were not the artists and craftsmen, but they acted as sponsors, patrons, and consumers of the arts, thereby performing an invaluable service. Women, especially Khubilai’s wife and great granddaughter, were avid supporters of Chinese art.

The programme14.30 - 15.00  Reception with coffee & tea in the foyer at the Auditorium
15.00 - 15.10  Welcome & Introduction
15.10 - 16.00  Lecture by Professor Morris Rossabi (Columbia University, NY, USA)
16.00 - 16.30  Q&A

The speakerMorris Rossabi is a historian of China and Inner Asia who conducted his initial research on traditional Chinese foreign relations and on the peoples along China's borders. He wrote a biography of Khubilai Khan, which has been translated in many languages, including Korean and Russian, and helped to organize exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. He was commissioned to write three chapters for the Cambridge History of China. After serving as a Consultant for the Soros Foundation, he wrote the book Modern Mongolia. The author of numerous articles and speeches, he travels repeatedly to Central Asia and Mongolia, where he teaches courses on Mongolian and East Asian history.

RegistrationEntrance and registration are free of charge. Please register via: h.m.van.der.minne@iias.nl

Inline image: Empress Chabi (1227–1281).

Sunday, 25 January 2015

New post from IDP (the International Dunhuang Project from the British Library)

FRIDAY, JANUARY 23, 2015

A Suicidal Thunder God?

Drawing at the end of Dunhuang manuscript Or.8210/S.3326.
Showing this manuscript today to a group of visiting students, I was again struck by the strangeness of this figure and hope that someone might be able to provide an explanation or point to similar figures elsewhere.
The crude line drawing shows a figure dressed as a Chinese official with the label 電神 (Dianshen, thunder god) to the right and an apparent book title to the left — ending with 電經一卷 (Thunder Sutra, one roll). Most curious, however, are the drawn bow and arrow: the arrow is back to front, ie pointing towards the thunder god himself.
The image appears at the end of a very interesting — but also somewhat mysterious — manuscript which consists of two texts (translated for IDP by Imre Galambos). The first is a divination text based on cloud formations (nephelomancy). This is followed by a series of star charts. In a paper by Jean-Marc Bonnet-Bideau and Francois Praderie on this manuscript, the authors showed the star charts to be very accurate: it is a scientific document. The paper is extremely fine but the writing and the graphics appear sketchy and are certainly not in a fine scribal hand. It is therefore possible that this was a working copy which used a master — and fine — copy of a star chart, perhaps even tracing from it, hence the accuracy of the stars' positions. But how did this end up in Dunhuang, 1500 miles from the Imperial Astronomy Bureau in Chang'an where it was almost certainly produced?
Although we will probably never have all the answers to these questions, I hope that the suicidal thunder god might yet have more to tell us.

POSTED BY SUSAN WHITFIELD

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Classic, Treasure and Magic along the Silk Road

19 janvier 2015

Le cycle de conférences données par Yu Xin, professeur invité à l'EHESS, se poursuit tout le mois de janvier.
  • Archaeological Evidence, Cultural Imagination and Image of the Medieval World:  New Perspectives on Treasures from Kucha
    Mardi 20 janvier, de 14h à 16h, Salle des réunions (étage 3B, 52 rue du Cardinal-Lemoine, Paris 5e)
    dans le cadre du séminaire de d’Étienne de la Vaissière
  • The Journey to the East: A Magical Tradition of Figurine Across Eurasia:  from Gaochang to Kyoto
    Mercredi 21 janvier, de 17h à 19h, Salle 2, RdC, EHESS, Le France (190, Avenue de France, Paris 13e)
    dans le cadre du séminaire d’Antonella Romano
  • The Transformation of Sacrificial Money: New Hypotheses Based on the Archaeological Discoveries in Turfan
    Jeudi 29 janvier, INHA, de 11h à 13h, Salle Mariette (6 rue des petits-camps, Paris 2e)
    dans le cadre du séminaire de Marcello Carastro et Stéphan Dugast



YU Xin

Université Fudan, Shanghai
Yu XinLe labex TransferS invite, du 10 février au 10 mars, le Professeur YU Xin - Professeur d’Histoire chinoise médiévale, département d’Histoire de l’Université Fudan, Shanghai.



Classic, Treasure and Magic along the Silk Road

Après un cycle de 4 conférences en janvier à l’EHESS, le Pr. Yu donnera 2 séminaires à l’École normale supérieure.

  • Vendredi 13 février
  • Exploration on Zhujunda : The legend of a vegetable along the Silk Road
  • 16h-18h, Amphithéâtre Rataud, ENS (45, rue d’Ulm, 75005 Paris)
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  • In Dunhuang Manuscripts P. 3391, the problematic entry “zhujunda” is found in the category of vegetable in the text. What’s the meaning ? This puzzle baffles scholars. This research aims to provide an accurate description of this word from the dimensions of semantics and natural history, employing materials from various unearthed documents, medical books, anecdotes, and encyclopedias. It tries to show the role which zhujunda had played in the medieval social life as well as in the cultural exchange between the west and the east. It arrives at the following conclusions : both of leaf-beet and root-beet came from Persian. In the period of Sassanid Empire leaf- beet arrived in China, and its translation “junda” was originated from Medieval Persian language, while root-beet came in after Arab invaded Iran, and its translation “zhujunda” found its root in new Persian language, which should be no late than the early 10th century. These things and their corresponding names passing from Iran to China enriched Chinese culture in the medieval ages.
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  • Vendredi 6 mars
  • New Perspectives on the Horse Anthroposcopy through the Archeological Materials
  • 16h-18h, salle Cavaillès, ENS (45, rue d’Ulm, 75005 Paris)
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  • The horse anthroposcopy comprises one important aspect of Xingfa, which is a practical technique that utilizes observation to judge things’ good or bad, and also serves as the basic paradigm of that people conceive the world around them in traditional China. In recent years, several lost books concerning anthroposcopy have been excavated : The Book of Horse Anthroposcopy in the Mawangdui silk texts ; The Book of Dog Anthroposcopy in the Shuanggudui bamboo slips ; The Book of Dog-judging Methods in the Yinqueshan bamboo slips ; The Methods for Sword-judging in the Juyan wooden slips. These findings of ancient books concerning anthroposcopy reveal their significance in the knowledge, belief, and society of traditional China. In this lecture, I will try to use the wooden slips from Dunhuang discovered by Stein, the Mawangdui silk texts, the Shuihudi bamboo slips, the Xuanqun wooden slips, Dunhuang manuscripts, mural paintings in tombs, art crafts and received texts, such as Qimin Yaoshu, to discuss the origin and development of the horse anthroposcopy technique from Han through Tang synthetically. I hope this research will shed a new light on the study of Xingfa in medieval China.