China – the “Middle Empire” has long been thought to have developed completely independently of the West. Historic writings from as far back as the fourth pre-Christian millennium document the image of an isolated China, which has apparently evolved without any noteworthy boundary points to the West. The belief in China’s isolation and independence has recently been challenged by surprising discoveries, uncovered in Lost Treasures of the Silk Road.
One hundred years ago western explorers discovered the desert, Taklamakan, in the West of China as an archaeological treasury. The famous Silk Road once lead through this desert and, as the archaeologists rapidly discovered in the beginning of the 20th Century, made for commercial and cultural exchange between East and West. Recently, Chinese archaeological exploration underneath the traces of the medieval Silk Road found evidence of an even longer history. In the middle of the desert they discovered a burial ground of extraordinarily well-preserved mummies. The mummies belong to a clan of forgotten people, who are thought to have settled in the region 4000 years ago. In addition to the unbelievably well preserved state of the mummies, their looks were surprising; their beards and hair were light brown or even blond and their facial features looked nothing like their Chinese counterparts. Could they have belonged to a European population who brought the Chinese in touch with the West during the Bronze Age? Could they have brought with them important cultural techniques such as the casting of bronze, which appears late in China but is said to have been invented there independently? Renowned mummy-expert Professor Vicor Mair looks into these questions with modern techniques: using DNA-analysis he attempts to reveal if the mummies indeed have European roots….
In Lost Treasures of the Silk Road not only the mummies raise issues – other findings which have been previously unknown in the West unhinge the familiar concept of Chinese history. An arcane grave of a king in the East of China surprises with contents that give a clearly western impression – at a time when supposedly no contact between the East and West had occurred. Only by accident, the German art historian Dr. Lukas Nickel comes across this archaeological excavation. To him it provides the first step that could result in many more discoveries. Dr. Nickel considers the world famous terracotta-army. It was built as a tomb of the First Chinese Emperor and is therefore a part of the historical foundation of the currently accepted history of China. Here, of all places, Dr. Nickel investigates his theories. In the process, he gains unprecedented access to figures that have not been seen before in modern times. The figures are so unusual and unlike other Chinese art of their era that Dr. Nickel can only make one conclusion: the figures must have been created by Chinese artists following the examples set by the Greek statues. Dr Nickel hypothesizes that Chinese must have somehow seen Greek figures and adapted them for their own intention. Lost Treasures of the Silk Road reveals amazing insights from experts worldwide, which could rewrite the history of the relations between East and West….
1x 45′, 2013