China unearths millennia-old mummy on Silk Road

Beijing: The mummified remains of a middle-aged man, believed to be 1,700 years old, have been unearthed on a less frequented section of the ancient Silk Road on the edge of China’s Qinghai-Tibet plateau.

The body was found at a construction site in the town of Mang’ai, reports Xinhua news agency.

“It is in good shape, perhaps the oldest and the best preserved mummy discovered on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau,” a senior official said.

The body measures 1.62 metres, and features perfectly preserved skin and hair remnants. The man was believed to be in his 40s when he died. His hands are crossed over the abdomen.

Archaeologists will use DNA tests to find out the man’s ethnicity and identity, the official said.

The mummy was found amid dried reeds, dyed cloth mats, a horse’s hoof, and sheep bones — thought to be funeral objects for the upper class of the time.

Mummies are usually formed in very dry environments which prevent bodies from decay. The area where the body was found is on the northern edge of the plateau close to Taklamakan Desert.

It was on a less travelled off-shoot route of the ancient Silk Road. Traders took this route to avoid conflict on the Hexi Corridor, a much better known thoroughfare.