Professor Mair attempted to investigate further, but met with some difficulties from the Chinese authorities at the time because of the political climate. Eventually, he led a small expedition to the Tarim Basin and the group found more mummies that were tall and blond, dressed in clothes that were still intact, even woolen plaids that were as brightly hued as the day they were woven.
Who were these people? As far back as the second century B.C., Chinese texts refer to alien people called the ‘Yuezhi’ and the ‘Wusun’ who lived on China’s far western borders. The texts indicate the Chinese regarded them as troublesome ‘barbarians.’ Until recently scholars have teneded to downplay evidence of any early trade or contact between China and the West regarding the development of Chinese civilization as an essentially home grown affair, sealed off from outside. Recently, some archeologists argue that these so-called ‘barbarians’ were responsible for introducing things like the wheel and the first metal objects. Professor Mair’s own research leads him to believe that these people were Tocharian, an early Indo-European group about whose origins little is known.