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Who Were the Tocharians?


Who Were the Tocharians?

One of the Tocharian mummies from the Tarim Basin

Aurel Stein, 1910

The Tocharians were a Caucasian people, now extinct, who lived in China's Tarim Basin, in the Taklamakan Desert, from about 1800 BCE to 800 CE.

DNA tests on the famed Tarim Mummies show that these red-haired, blue-eyed people were most closely related to modern-day Ukrainians. The pattern and weave of their clothes resembles Scottish tartans.

"Tocharian" also is used to describe the two extinct Indo-European languages spoken by this people.

The word "Tocharian" comes from the Greek Tokharoi, which originally denoted a different Central Asian people that was mentioned by Strabo.

Pronunciation: toh-KAR-ee-uhn
Alternate Spellings: Tokharian

"The Tocharians are not entirely gone; even today, some Uighers in the Tarim region have fair hair and blue eyes, evidence of Tocharian descent."

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