ethnic group

The Tocharians or Tokharians (/toʊˈkɛəriən/ or /toʊˈkɑːriən/) were Indo-European peoples who inhabited the medieval oasis city-states on the northern edge of the Tarim Basin (modern Xinjiang, China) in ancient times.


  • The simplest explanation of the presence of a Centum language in Central Asia would be to regard it as the last survivor of an original Asiatic Aryan stock. To identify a wandering of Aryans across Turkestan from Europe in a relatively late historical period is frankly difficult.
    • (CHILDE 1926:95-996). The Aryans: A study of Indo-European Origins. Childe, V. Gordon. Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trubner & co. Ltd., London, 1926.
  • The contact between Tokharic and Chinese adds little to our knowledge of the Urheimat but merely confirms that the Tokharic people lived that far east. The adoption of almost the whole range of domesticated cattle-names from Tokharic into Chinese also emphasizes a fact insufficiently realized, viz. how innovative the cattle-breeding culture of the early IE tribes really was. They ranked as powerful and capable, and their prestige helped them to assimilate large populations culturally and linguistically. But for Urheimat-related trails, we must look elsewhere.
  • The location of the Anatolian branch of IE (Hittite and its sisters) is a problem, or at least a puzzle, for IE homeland studies. The Anatolian languages are attested very early in Asia Minor, removed from Europe and far from the steppe; Gamkrelidze and Ivanov ... offer as a strength the ability of their proposed homelands to account for the location of Hittite with minimal migration. Alternatively or additionally, the location of Tocharian—attested in the early centuries AD well to the east of most IE territory in present-day Xinkiang (Chinese Turkestan)—is a problem or a puzzle... Accounting for the locations of both Hittite and Tocharian is usually presented, at least rhetorically, as a major problem.
    • Johanna Nichols NICHOLS. 1998. The Eurasian spread zone and the Indo-European dispersal. in : Blench, R., & Spriggs, M. (2012). Archaeology and Language II: Archaeological Data and Linguistic Hypotheses. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

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