No Celts in Ancient China

Every now and then a news story comes to light about the so-called Celtic mummies of China. The story has been making rounds for most of this century, from scientific conferences to ABCNews. Without detracting from the wonder that is the Cherchen mummies, lets set the record straight concerning the Celticness of these men and women” writes Emma Wohlfart on her blog PastPresenters. What arguments does she offer and err.. were we mistaken too?

Emma – who introduces herself as a twenty-something writer with an archaeology degree, a laptop and a maxed out library card – agrees that there were Bronze Age contacts between Europeans and the Chinese, but wants to get the message across, preferably once and for all, that they were not Celtic:

  • The ‘Xinjiang Europeans’ had all died by the time anyone was referred to as a Celt.
  • Icons found with the bodies which resembled in some ways the Sheela na Gig figure are no sign of Celticness. The Sheela na Gigs we know from Ireland are 2400 years younger and occure all across Europe.
  • The standing stones surrounding the burial was linked to the British dolmens, but these belong to the Stone Age and predate Celtic culture by thousands of years and exist in Asia too.
  • DNA findings were that the mummies shared DNA with, amongst others, modern Swedes, Finns, and Italians, neither of which are particularly Celtic.

After Emma has convinced you that the Celts never got quite as far as China, you can quickly learn more about the these fascinating ancient peoples of Europe by listening to the Sixty Second Celtic Chronicle podcast series on Emma’s YouTube Channel, starting at the introduction, of course.