Acta Anthropologica Sinica ›› 2022, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (06): 1017-1027.doi: 10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2022.0019

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Craniofacial features of people in the Lafuqueke cemetery, Hami, Xinjiang

HE Letian1(), WANG Yongqiang2, WEI Wenbing1   

  1. 1. School of History and Culture, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000
    2. Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology in Xinjiang, Urumqi 830011
  • Received:2021-11-03 Revised:2022-04-28 Online:2022-12-15 Published:2022-12-19


The Xinjiang region is a key crossroads between Europe and Asia, having been an important area of cultural and population exchange between East and West for thousands of years. Its history of population migration during the historical period (after 200 BC) reflects interactive patterns of different ethnic groups and cultures along the ancient Silk Road. The Lafuqueke is the first cemetery of the historical period excavated in the Hami Basin. Based on craniometric data of 10 adults from this site, this study applied multivariate statistics and biological distance to assess the population structure and to make a preliminary exploration of population history of the Hami oasis from the Late Bronze Age to the historical period. Cluster analysis and principal component analysis were used to analyze origins and affinities of the Lafuqueke population and 28 ancient populations from surrounding areas. The Squared Mahalanobis distance and nonparametric multivariate analysis of variance were applied to assess differences in the craniofacial morphology of Late Bronze Age-earlier Iron Age-historical period populations in the Hami Basin, in order to determine population continuity/discontinuity. The results are as follows. Craniometric analysis of the Lafuqueke population reveals intra-population heterogeneity. Two individuals from the mid-7th to late-mid 8th centuries have close affinities with eastern Eurasian populations. Considering burial features and burial objects, cultures and populations from the Tang Dynasty had a great influence on Hami during this period. After the 10th century, the Hami Basin was incorporated into the cultural system of the Gaochang Uygur Kingdom. However, the population structure of this region remained diverse, including individuals with similar craniometric features to those of eastern Eurasia and individuals with a mixture of eastern and western features. Craniofacial measurements of populations from the Late Bronze to early Iron Age (2000 BC-1000 BC) in the Hami show continuity indicating that the main population did not change. From the Early Iron Age to the historical period, however, a significant change occurred showing increased genetic contributions of populations from eastern Eurasia. Combined with archaeological findings and historical records, the new skeletal samples provide a preliminary understanding of population migration and integration during the historical period of the Hami oasis and allow for more detailed multidisciplinary research of this issue.

Key words: Xinjiang, cemetery, Homo sapiens, craniometrics, statistical analysis, population migration

CLC Number: