Secrets of the Silk Road explores the history of the vast desert landscape of the Tarim Basin, located in Western China, and the mystery of the peoples who lived there. Located at the crossroads between East and West, oasis towns within the Tarim Basin were key way stations for anyone traveling on the legendary Silk Road.
Extraordinarily well-preserved human remains found at these sites reveal ancient people of unknown descent. Caucasian in appearance, these mummies challenge long-held beliefs about the history of the area, and early human migration. The material excavated suggests the area was active for thousands of years, with diverse languages, lifestyles, religions, and cultures present.
This exhibition provides a chance to investigate this captivating material to begin to uncover some of the secrets of the Silk Road.
Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, California, organized this landmark exhibition of ancient art and artifacts traveling from Xinjiang Province, People’s Republic of China, in association with the Archaeological Institute of Xinjiang, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Museum in Urumqi, and the Cultural Heritage Bureau of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
Secrets of the Silk Road began its U.S. tour at the Bowers Museum (March 27 to July 25), and moved on to the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences (August 28 to January 2, 2011).
The Penn Museum presentation of Secrets of the Silk Road features new exhibition text and interactive components focusing on the history of the Silk Road in the vast Tarim Basin in the Far Western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China, and developed by Penn Museum exhibition staff in close consultation with consulting scholar Dr. Victor Mair.
Behind the Exhibit
Get a glimpse behind the scenes of the Secrets of the Silk Road on the Penn Museum Blog.
The Bowers Museum - The Arrival of Yingpan Man (1:48) ?For the very first time, three well-preserved mummies from the Tarim Basin in western China have been brought to the United States. Bowers Museum offers the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to come face to face with Yingpan Man's lavish tomb goods and personal belongings including Roman glass, bow and arrows for protection, a satin perfumed sash and fine silk clothing.
Secrets of the Silk Road is made possible with support from:
E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation
A. Bruce and Margaret Mainwaring
Lois and Robert M. Baylis
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Cummins Catherwood, Jr. and Susan W. Catherwood
Alexandra and Eric J. Schoenberg, Ph.D.
Tiffany & Co.
Winnie Chin and Michael Feng
Gretchen R. Hall, Ph.D.
Host Hotels and Resorts
The Henry Luce Foundation
Center for Ancient Studies, University of Pennsylvania
Subaru of America
Wachovia-Wells Fargo Foundation
Photography courtesy of the Cultural Relics Bureau of Xinjiang and Wang Da-Gang.