Monday, February 05, 2007

Remnants of Carrhae in western China

In 1955, Homer Dubs, a professor of Chinese at Oxford, posited the idea that in 36 BC, Han China installed about 145 Roman mercenaries—recaptured remnants of the forces defeated by the Parthians at the Battle of Carrhae in 53—at the frontier town of Liqian, in what is today China's Gansu province.

For years, the only "evidence" for Dubs's theory was the continued persistence of oddly Western features in the local population. Then, in 2003, a 5' 11" male skeleton with straight teeth and long lower limbs—i.e., not a local—was found in a 2,000 year old tomb near ancient Liqian.

Fox News reports that scientists have now taken blood samples from 93 people in an attempt to substantiate their Roman genetic heritage.

Professor Xie Xiaodong, a Lanzhou University geneticist, was appropriately cautious about his description of the exercise when he was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald:

"Even if they are descendants of the Roman Empire, it doesn't mean they are necessarily from the Roman army," he said. "The empire covered a large area … so anything is possible," said Xie.

(Lifted from Bits of News)

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