COVER LETTER TO
Professor Victor H. Mair
Dear Professor Mair:
Thank you for the kind e-mail response to my earlier inquiry: The Mysterious Mummies of China
Date: Thu, 30 Jul 1998 20:42:52 -0400 (EDT)
From: email@example.com (Victor Mair)
The Bronze Age and Early Iron Age People of Eastern Central Asia,
Victor Mair, Editor, Institute for the Study of Man, Washington, DC, 1998.
Monograph #26 in two volumes.
Refer also to the PBS Nova program, "The Mysterious Mummies of China."
This response will be divided into six Parts, because of the intricacy
of the data.
I request your permission to copy this response to other interested
I approached you because of the direct bearing of your discoveries,
and those of your colleagues, on my investigative work. While I am not
a professional scholar, I have devoted considerable time in examination
of the cultural history of our world. I believe my work, in turn, may have
a direct bearing on your discoveries.
I concentrated on ancient wide cultural influences, and the necessary
dispersion or migration of people to bring those influences, and not upon
the details of local evolutions.
My work indicates three major cultural forces deriving from unique groups
of people. The most ancient is now lost in the mists of the past, with
only nominal-word memory and some portions of myth to indicate its existence
across wide areas of the globe. The evidence suggests that it was a missionary
activity, attempting to up step and ennoble native populations without
abrupt interference in local expressions. I shall not discuss that influence
here, except for peripheral mention.
I shall discuss the remaining two because they are interrelated. These
two, when correlated, offer insights into your discoveries.
The second I call the "Don" influence. The evidence indicates that this
influence extended from the extremes of western Europe into the subcontinent
and into China and southeast Asia. The influence was biological as well
as cultural, mixing with native populations but not disrupting their societies.
The third I call the Iberi influence. It ultimately derives from the
"Don" influence. From my investigations I had concluded that this influence
originated among the Semites from north Mesopotamia, or perhaps from the
mountain regions between the Pontus and the Caspian, with migrations into
other regions of the Near East in the third millennium, and a second wave
of later migrations into most regions of Europe in the first millennium.
The first wave of migrations shows itself with the presence of the early
Phoenicians along the eastern Mediterranean coast, the appearance of Akkad,
Abraham in Ur, and so on.
I was truly surprised by the discoveries of you and your colleagues
to find Iberi influence in Eastern Central Asia, as demonstrated through
the fascinating mummies of China. From my review of your discoveries I
believe those people were part of the second Semitic wave of people. I
was impelled to contact you because of the strong Keltic affinities in
red hair, traditions of green eyes, and tartan plaids you found in your
discoveries. Evidence indicates the Keltic people of western Europe are
part of the legacy of the later Iberi migrations. The mummies of China
show this same legacy. Obviously, a widespread migration of people took
place to provide evidence from such extreme geographical regions.
Numerous questions arise. Why did they migrate over such wide geographical
areas? What psychological, religious, or cultural impulse drove them? Did
they possess cultural persuasion which impacted upon the native populations
of the regions to which they migrated? Did they mix biologically with the
native populations? Have their traditions come down to us in folk lore
or mythology? Did they leave behind traces of their existence in native
You and your colleagues reviewed accumulating evidence for Eastern Central
Asia. I shall briefly survey evidence from other regions as I have been
able to isolate it from regional traditions and cultural memory.
Before proceeding with details it may be helpful to make some general remarks regarding these ancient influences. The evidence indicates that the migrating people did not engage in military conquest, or attempt to replace the local cultures, but rather commingled with the native populations. A definite
superiority of the migrating people is indicated by the absorption of their influence into the local populations to produce what we now see as the "Don" and Iberi evidence. A model of replacement or subjection of the local populations would require denial of the evidence. Your work, and that of your colleagues, demonstrates this absorption into local cultures.
This factor may be troubling to many researchers who attempt to separate
and delineate cultural boundaries. Life would be easier for all of us if
we could identify "X" and "Y" as distinct cultures with their respective
artifacts and languages. When "X" and "Y" mix, those distinct boundaries
blur and leave us with our analytical desires in confusion. I shall offer
a simple illustration. I was raised in the "Dutch" region of eastern Pennsylvania.
I did not know until I left home at the age of 18 that "outen the light"
was not good English. My verbal accent yet today reflects that "German"
influence. This element suggested to me that there can be a commingling
of religious practices, mechanical methods, burial techniques, and language
from different cultural origins which cannot be separated by distinct boundaries.
Imagine the trouble a foreign visitor to our earthly shores might experience
if he should attempt to delineate the cultural heritage of China, for example,
but all the citizens of this world were dead, and he knew nothing of our
recent history. I suspect it would be impossible for him to untangle the
mix of cultures which has been manifested on our world in the past two
hundred years. This personal assessment led me to view commingling as a
possible cause for misunderstanding the Etruscan's, as one example. Others
exist. The classical approach to those people then is missing a crucial
element in perception.
Another element conditions our understanding of the past. Our view of
cultural horizons may limit our insights. Scientific practice requires
hard evidence. Much of this evidence is dependent upon surviving artifacts,
mummies, and so on, to make our approach rigorous and disciplined. The
wear of time simply removes most of that evidence. You and your colleagues
were fortunate to work from an environment favorable to preservation. Other
cultural horizons may precede those which will forever escape us because
time has obliterated the hard evidence. However, linguistics and myth have
taken an important role. If we discover common "soft" evidence across cultural
regions we may safely deduce that some influence was at work to bring that
similarity. The Indo-European languages were one important discovery in
such approach. Furthermore, some scientific fields do not depend upon hard
evidence but rather upon observation and analysis. Astronomy is one of
those. Thus we would be poor scholars to reject evidence not measurable
by chemical or physical techniques. Your colleagues recognize the importance
of language and myth.
I interject this thought because those elements of evidence play such
an important role in our understanding of the past. But our cultural horizons,
if limited to seven or ten thousands years of human history, may blind
us. I believe the forcing of Indo-European linguistic evidence to such
limited horizons has caused us to misunderstand the evidence. The cultural
influences I discuss here may come from sources that predate ten thousand
years. Can our analysis of linguistics and myth more precisely determine
those sources, and their temporal origins?
As I engaged in these studies I also came to another recognition. We
commonly define cultural levels by technological advances. We assume that
the bronze age people were more cultured than those who lived with stone
tools. However, this assumption may be wrong. A highly refined culture
may not necessarily devote its mental and artistic powers to mechanical
developments. Note the cave paintings of Europe which date to thirty thousand
BCE. Therefore, lack of hard artifacts does not necessarily indicate inferior
With these general remarks I shall now proceed to evidence.
Please note that I do not provide an exhaustive review of evidence in
the following discussions. My purpose is to survey the nature of the evidence
--- not offer rigorous scholarly demonstration. I also do not provide citations
for this survey.
Further, I have styled my presentation for more general readership.
The titles of the following Parts, each sent under separate cover:
1. The Don Evidence
2. The Iberi Connection
3. The Red Color Memories
4. The Later Iberi Migrations
6. Some Thoughts
I shall send these as HTML attachments. I make extensive use of italics,
which do not carry under ASCII encoding. Most Internet software can open
these attachments. If you experience difficulty please let me know. I can
send under different formats.
The length of the attachments is 30K bytes or less, and about eight