Silk Road

Beauty of Xiaohe

The Penn Museum exhibition “Secrets of the Silk Road” tells the story of a set of ancient trade routes that connected China, India, Central Asia, the Middle East and parts of Africa and Europe. The path for anyone traveling along the Silk Road was through the Tarim Basin.
Although the trade route was named after the silk exported from China, many other luxury goods, such as precious stones and metals, ivory, glass, perfume, spices and paper, were also commonly transported on its various paths.

In this edition of By The Numbers, we travel back in time along the famed routes of the Silk Road.

4,600-plus Length, in miles, of the Silk Road. Travelers moved by foot and camel.

28 Number of different languages that have been discovered in the Tarim Basin. The most common were Khotanese, Tocharian, Sogdian and Chinese.

100-plus Number of artifacts from China’s Ürümchi Museum and Institute of Archaeology of Xinjiang that are included in the “Silk Road” exhibition.

6’6’’ Height, in feet and inches, of the mummy known as “Yingpan Man,” the tallest Caucasoid mummy excavated in the Tarim Basin. He was probably around 30 years old when he died.

4,000 Approximate age of the Beauty of Xiaohe, one of the oldest and best-preserved of the mummies discovered. She may date as far back as 1,800 B.C.E.

500 Approximate number of mummies excavated over the past 40 years at about a dozen sites in the Tarim Basin.

1915 Year in which the Penn Museum’s Chinese Rotunda was completed. An interest in China has been engrained in the fabric of the Museum since the Rotunda was erected.

Originally published on February 3, 2011