Place of the Immortals (03:28)
In January 2009, officers patrolling in China's Jiangsu province find two dead men in a minivan. They are covered in dirt from a quarry containing ancient shards. Investigators believe they have accidentally died while detonating explosives.
King Liu Fei's Grave (02:18)
Archaeologists uncover 2,000 year old funerary artifacts from a quarry. Emperor Wu Di's brother died in 127 B.C. The Han dynasty was characterized by technological and cultural development independent of contact with other cultures.
An Exceptional Artifact (04:03)
Chinese historians believe their culture developed independently, but a silver box uncovered at Liu Fei's gravesite may show contact to Western cultures. Art historian Lukas Nickel finds it has a Persian pattern but was cast using Chinese silver.
Rewriting Chinese History (03:40)
Historians assumed the Himalayas and Taklamakan Desert isolated China until 200 B.C.; a third century silver bowl proves otherwise. Professor Hermann Parzinger discusses Albert von Le Coq's interest in Greek influence on China and expedition funded by Wilhelm II.
Silk Road Research (01:53)
Colonial European powers raced to explore the Taklamakan Desert in Central Asia. Trade flourished between China and the West into the Middle Ages; the dry climate preserved artifacts. Le Coq searched for a Greek temple.
Temple of Dunhuang (03:56)
Le Coq was ordered to another site on the Taklamakan Desert; Aurel Stein discovered the rumored library with block prints dating to 868 A.D. The technology reached Europe 400 years later, suggesting cultural exchanges between China and the West.
Western Influence in the Taklamakan Desert (02:32)
Le Coq encountered a Buddhist monastery near Bezeklik providing evidence of exchanges of goods and knowledge along the Silk Road. He removed pictures and sent them to Berlin. Some elements suggest Greek influence, as does a column stone.
First Silk Road Mummy (02:58)
Le Coq believed Greek influence on China predated the Silk Road, but colleagues were unconvinced. Stein found a European mummy in the Taklamakan Desert by accident, but left it in the sand.
Taklamakan Desert Graveyard (04:33)
Archaeologist Idris Abursu followed Stein's account into the desert, enduring harsh conditions. His team discovered 200 Western mummies up to 4,000 years old.
Celtic Evidence (04:28)
Sinologist Victor Mair encountered Western mummies in Urumqi challenging the Chinese historical narrative. A local archaeologist gave Mair a 3,200 year old textile resembling a tartan to analyze. Le Coq had also found paintings of red headed men.
Attempts at Genetic Analysis (03:02)
Writings of an ancient Indo-European language were discovered in the Taklamakan Desert. Mair brings mummy samples to Denmark but they contain insufficient DNA for identification.
Silk Road Predecessors (03:18)
A Chinese genetic team analyzes DNA from mummies found in the Taklamakan Desert; they carry European genes. As early as 4,000 years ago, Black Sea migrants took the same path as the later merchants and traded with Chinese people.
Terracotta Army (04:17)
Nickel travels to Shihan to analyze the burial monument to China's first emperor. Chinese art had no tradition of anatomically correct figures; only Greeks had mastered naturalistic representations at the time. Alexander the Great had advanced into Asia.
New Perspective on Cultural Exchange (03:16)
Nickel believes Terracotta Army artisans were inspired by Greek statues. Both contact to the West and creative energy fueled Chinese innovations. China was never completely geographically isolated.
Credits: Lost Treasures of the Silk Road (00:27)
Credits: Lost Treasures of the Silk Road
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