||Last Update: Sunday, October 24, 2004. 8:48pm (AEST)
Light shed on mysterious Caucasian community in China
Chinese archaeologists have started unearthing hundreds of tombs in an arid north-western region once home to a mysterious civilisation that most likely was Caucasian, state media said today.
The researchers have begun work at Xiaohe, near the Lop Nur desert in Xinjiang region, where an estimated 1,000 tombs await excavation, according to Xinhua news agency.
Their findings could help shed light on one of the greatest current archaeological riddles and answer the question of how this isolated culture ended up thousands of kilometres from the nearest Caucasian community.
The tombs, thought by some to be 4,000 years old, were first discovered in 1934 by a Swedish explorer, but virtually no work was done on them over the next more than six decades.
In 2003, a Chinese team started digging in the area, finding 33 tombs and nearly 1,000 relics, but had to stop because of a severe storm, Xinhua said.