The Tarim mummies are a series of mummies discovered in the Tarim Basin in present-day Xinjiang, China, which date from 1900 BCE to 200 CE. Some of the mummies are frequently associated with the presence of the Indo-European Tocharian languages in the Tarim Basin, although the evidence is not totally conclusive.
Research into the subject has attracted controversy, due to ethnic tensions in modern day Xinjiang. There have been concerns whether DNA results could affect claims by Uyghur peoples of being indigenous to the region. In comparing the DNA of the mummies to that of modern day Uyghur peoples, Victor H. Mair’s team found some genetic similarities with the mummies, but no direct links, stating that “modern DNA and ancient DNA show that Uighurs, Kazaks, Krygyzs, the peoples of Central Asia are all mixed Caucasian and East Asian… the modern and ancient DNA tell the same story.” He concludes that the mummies are Caucasoid, likely speakers of an Indo-European language; that East Asian peoples “began showing up in the eastern portions of the Tarim Basin about 3,000 years ago… while the Uighur peoples arrived after the collapse of the Orkon Uighur Kingdom, largely based in modern day Mongolia, around the year 842.”