At the edge of the Gobi Desert, Liqian, a remote town, YongChang county in China inhabits descendants of the ancient Romans with striking Caucasian features of blond hair, green eyes and that typical roman nose.
It isn’t a surprise that these Chinese look astonishingly Central Asian, this area of China was part of the Silk Road, a 7,000-kilometer trade route that linked Asia and Europe more than 2000-2500 years ago.
What was surprising however, Chinese archeologists in 1990s found remnants of an ancient Roman fortification in this village.
The villagers practise a game similar to the ancient Roman bull fighting and also worship bulls. DNA testing in 2005 confirmed that some of the villagers have 50% Caucasian origins which lead to the conclusion they are descendants of the ancient Roman army. This however has detractors apprehensive due to the county being part of the Silk Route, where the Asians and Europeans intermingle.
Cai Junnian has yellow wavy hair, a hooked nose and green eyes. A DNA test in 2005 confirmed he is of 56 percent European origin. Image by Natalie Behring
“Mr Cai said his great-grandfather told him that there were Roman tombs in the Qilian mountains a day and a half’s walk away, but he had never connected them to the unusual appearance he inherited from his father. “People thought I had a skin problem,” he said.”