Chinese Villagers Descendants of Roman Soldiers?
A joint Chinese-Italian anthropology team has been set up to determine if residents of a remote village in western China are descendants of a “lost” Roman legionnaire, after DNA testing showed many of the villagers have mostly Caucasian genetic makeup.
The 2005 tests showed that people living in Liqian, on the fringes of the Gobi Desert in north-western China, are 56 percent Caucasian in origin. One villager, Cai Junnian, is nicknamed by his friends and relatives Cai Luoma, or Cai the Roman, because of his green eyes, wavy blond hair, and Occidental nose. He appears to resemble the famous Roman commander Magnus Crassus.
The Italian Studies Centre of the Lanzhou University in Gansu province will excavate the area for signs of proof that a legendary “lost” legion of Roman soldiers settled the region after losing a terrific battle to the Parthians, reports Xinhuanet.com.
Chinese archaeologists discovered the remains of an ancient Roman fortress in Liqian during the 1990’s, and then noticed the people living there had green and blue eyes, and light hair. Residents said they never traveled outside of the region, worshiped bulls and their favorite game was similar to the ancient Romans’ bull-fighting dance.
The UK Telegraph tells the story of the legendary Roman legion:
The clash took place in 53BC between an army led by Marcus Crassus, a Roman general, and a larger force of Parthians, from what is now Iran, bringing to an abrupt halt the Roman Empire’s eastwards expansion.
Thousands of Romans were slaughtered and Crassus himself was beheaded, but some legionaries were said to have escaped the fighting and marched east to elude the enemy.
They supposedly fought as mercenaries in a war between the Huns and the Chinese in 36BC – Chinese chroniclers refer to the capture of a “fish-scale formation” of troops, a possible reference to the “tortoise” phalanx formation perfected by legionnaires. The wandering Roman soldiers are thought to have been released and to have settled on the steppes of western China.
The theory was first put forward in the 1950s by Homer Dubs, a professor of Chinese history at Oxford University.
The Roman Empire reached its greatest territorial extent under the Emperor Trajan in the 2nd century AD, just as the Han empire was beginning to decline.
Also, the UK Daily Mail gives some background on Marcus Crassus:
Marcus Licinius Crassus was, alongside Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great was one of the three most powerful people in the world and one of the richest men in history.
He is famous for having defeated the slave uprising led by Spartacus from 73BC to 71BC which he did at his own expense once it became clear there was a real danger to Rome.
He was elected consul in 70 BC and he became the patron to young upstart Julius Caesar who he supported in his own political ambitions.
Crassus was given Syria as his province from where he led his troops in a bid to conquer the kingdom of Partha. Here he met his match. His legions were defeated at the Battle of Carrhae in modern-day Turkey, where his son was beheaded. According to legend, Crassus was also beheaded and gold poured into his open mouth as an illustration of his greed.
While the only official contact between Europe and China is Marco Polo’s famous journey in the 13th century and Roman diplomats visiting in 166 AD, unofficial contact goes back much further. In addition to the possibility of the Roman legion, blond-haired, blue-eyed mummies dating back some 2,700 years have been found entombed in the Gobi desert.