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UNIT 3: Human Migrations

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PERSPECTIVES ON THE PAST

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Transcript of Audio Clip

Jerry H. Bentley, University of Hawai'i

Well, as Mary Leaky has just suggested, history and archeology are full of surprises. During the past couple of decades, historians, archeologists, and other scholars as well, have been able to shed some really remarkable light on one surprising case of human migration in particular. And that's the movement that took place perhaps as early as 4,000 years ago of people who probably spoke Indo-European languages from the region that we now call Europe to the Tarim Basin in Central Asia, which is now a part of Shingja Province in Western China. Members of this community buried their deceased individuals in soil that was extremely dry and also in some places rather salty. As a result, many of their bodies were very well preserved and in some cases you can still detect distinctive Caucasian features, including fair skin and light colored hair. And there were communities speaking Indo-European languages that survived in Central Asia until about a thousand years ago. Later on they probably became gradually absorbed into the communities of Turkish peoples who also migrated into the region. So, even though there is no present day remnant of the Caucasians who migrated to Central Asia, the mummified bodies from their community do survive and they provide clear evidence of what was probably the early stages of the Indo-European migrations.



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