"A fascinating and readable account...a valuable compendium of recent research on a little-known region." —Archaeology. "Essential reading for archaeologists and scholars." —ChoiceThe best-preserved mummies in the world are found not in Egypt or Peru but in the museums of Xinjiang, the westernmost province of modern China. For thousands of years the occupants of the barren wastes and oases that would later become the Silk Road buried their dead in the desiccating sands of the Taklimakan, the second greatest desert on earth. This arid environment, preserving body and clothing, allows an unparalleled glimpse into the lives and appearance of a prehistoric people: these are the faces of ancient Indo-Europeans who settled in the Tarim Basin on the western rim of China some four millennia ago, 2000 years before West and East recognized each other's existence.The book examines the clues left by physical remains; economy, technology, and textiles; and traces of local languages. It is the definitive account of one of the most extraordinary archaeological discoveries of recent times. 190 illustrations, 13 in color.