Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Tarim Basin is the largest basin in the world, lying between several mountain ranges in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region (also known as East Turkistan) in China's far west. Much of the basin in dominated by the Taklamakan Desert. The area is sparsely settled by Uighurs and other central Asian peoples, as well as by Chinese, many of them recent immigrants to the area from other parts of China.
Formerly the Tocharian languages were spoken in the Tarim Basin. They were the easternmost of the Indo-European languages. The Chinese name "Yuezhi" (Chinese 月氏; Wade-Giles: Yüeh-Chih) denoted an ancient Central Asian people settled in the Tarim Basin, who, vanquished by the Xiongnu, later migrated southward to form the Kushan Empire in northern India.
The Chinese managed to take control of the Tarim Basin from the Xiongnu at the end of the 1st century CE under the leadership of general Ban Chao (32-102 CE).
The powerful Kushans expanded back into the Tarim Basin in the 1st-2nd centuries CE, where they established a kingdom in Kashgar and competed for control of the area with nomads and Chinese forces. They introduced the Brahmi script, the Indian Prakrit language for administration, and Buddhism, playing a central role in the Silk Road transmission of Buddhism to Eastern Asia.
- Baumer, Christoph. 2000. Southern Silk Road: In the Footsteps of Sir Aurel Stein and Sven Hedin. White Orchid Books. Bangkok.
- Mallory, J.P. and Mair, Victor H. 2000. The Tarim Mummies: Ancient China and the Mystery of the Earliest Peoples from the West. Thames & Hudson. London. ISBN 0500051011
- Stein, Aurel M. 1907. Ancient Khotan: Detailed report of archaeological explorations in Chinese Turkestan, 2 vols. Clarendon Press. Oxford. 
- Stein, Aurel M. 1921. Serindia: Detailed report of explorations in Central Asia and westernmost China, 5 vols. London & Oxford. Clarendon Press. Reprint: Delhi. Motilal Banarsidass. 1980. 
- Stein Aurel M. 1928. Innermost Asia: Detailed report of explorations in Central Asia, Kan-su and Eastern Iran, 5 vols. Clarendon Press. Reprint: New Delhi. Cosmo Publications. 1981.
- Silk Road Seattle (The Silk Road Seattle website contains many useful resources including a number of full-text historical works)
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