The Turfan Depression links with the Black Sea Region by Eben van Tonder 28 December 2021
Looking back over the eons of time and trying to plot the trajectory of the development of meat curing took us to Turfan in the Western regions of China. Salt – 7000 years of meat-curing started the journey. Nitrate Salts Epic Journey: From Turfan in China, through Nepal to North India and And then the mummies spoke! followed. I recently learned of genetic studies that identified the Tarim population as a distinct entity with direct links to one of the oldest groups of people in Eurasia, dating back to 10 000 years ago. One of the later groups that would develop from them, albeit it being through mixing with other groupings, would be the Scythians who lived roughly in an area covering the present-day Siberia. It was the ancestors of this group who domesticated the horse. This event has also been traced to an exact location in the western regions of what later would be the land of the Scythians, just north of the black sea. In lands to the east of the black sea natural nitrate deposits exist. It would seem that Turfan’s role developed to that of as a centre of learning and a trading community with natural nitrate and ammonium chlorite deposits in the depression but that the art of meat curing centered on regions surrounding the Black Sea, in particular to its west and east.
The domestication of the horse would have been a great impetus for developing meat preservation techniques with links to vast nitrate deposits and what would become a characteristic of the Schythgian way of life as nomads, travelling vast distances over the entire region that became the lands of the Scythians.
In the following article I explore these cross currents, all of which lead to the existence of communities and populations around the black sea which, to this day, excel in meat curing.
Occupants of the Tarim Basin – Originally from Siberia
Phots of the Tarim Mummies found in Northwest China date back 4000years ago. (DNA reveals unexpected origins of enigmatic mummies buried in a Chinese desert.)
The fact that the small community in Turfan would exist till fairly recently as a distinct ethnic group, culturally diverse but genetically unique as direct descendants of a society that existed 10 000 years ago is a fascinating discovery.
Resent genetic work above focuses on about 300 mummies, rediscovered in the 1990s, dating from between 2,000 B.C. to 200 A.D. in the Taklamakan Desert in China’s Xinjiang region in the Turfan depression. Researchers initially looked towards the Russian steppe as the origin of the people. In October 2021 I came across an article written by Katie Hunt, (CNN), “DNA reveals unexpected origins of enigmatic mummies buried in a Chinese desert.” Katie writes that DNA of 13 of these mummies, “sequencing their genomes for the first time, has painted a different picture. Their analysis suggested that the remains did not belong to newcomers, but a local group descended from an ancient ice age Asian population.”
“Christina Warinner, an associate professor of anthropology at Harvard University said, ‘We found strong evidence that they actually represent a highly genetically isolated local population.'” Warinner is also group leader of microbiome sciences at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and an author of the study that published in the journal Nature. “In contrast to their genetic isolation, however, they seem to have openly embraced new ideas and technologies from their herder and farmer neighbors, while also developing unique cultural elements shared by no other groups,” she said. The researchers looked at the genetic information from the oldest Tarim Basin mummies — dating from 3,700 to 4,100 years old — together with genomes sequenced from the remains of five people from the Dzungarian Basin farther north in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China. Dating back between 4,800 and 5,000 years ago, they are the oldest human remains found in the region.”
“The research found that the Tarim Basin mummies showed no sign of admixture (a scientific term for having babies) with other groups that lived at the same time. The mummies were direct descendants of a group that was once widespread during the ice age but had largely disappeared by the end of that era — around 10,000 years ago. Called Ancient North Eurasians (ANE), traces of this hunter-gatherer population survive only fractionally in the genomes of present-day populations, with Indigenous people in Siberia and the Americas having the highest known proportions. Finding them in the Tarim Basin and dated to these years was unexpected.”
By comparison, “the other genetic samples from farther North in Xinjiang showed that the people came from mixed extensively with different Bronze Age populations in the region, making it remarkable that the Tarim Basin mummies were so genetically isolated. While remote now, in the Bronze Age “this was a region of incredible crossroads. There was vibrant mixing of North, South, East and West going back as far back as 5,000 years,” said Michael Frachetti, a professor of anthropology at Washington University in Saint Louis, who wasn’t involved in the study. “It makes it all the more paradoxical in a way that you have a community which is heavily integrated from cultural perspectives, but who maintain some very, very iconic and unique components of their own local ideology, local culture, local burial traditions as well as a seemingly unmixed genetic profile that goes back even further into deep time primordial ancestry.” Narasimhan said it was possible for a population to be genetically isolated but also be culturally cosmopolitan.” It’s not necessary for genetics to always go hand in hand with cultural or linguistic exchange,” he said. “People can always adopt new techniques be it farming or metal working from other groups, or change their funerary practices and so on, without population movement or turnover.””
“While the DNA study reveals tantalizing details about the mummies, it’s unlikely to be the last word on their origins. The study looks at mummies found at a single site, and it’s unclear whether sequencing a wider range of sites in the Tarim Basin might result in the discovery of different genetic ties, Narasimhan said. Frachetti said ancient genetic samples from this region are still relatively rare, and it was possible that they could find other genetic influences from the Himalayas or Tibet.”
“Although earlier work has shown the mummies lived on the shores of an oasis in the desert, it’s still unclear why they were buried in boats covered in cattle hides with oars at their head — a rare practice not seen elsewhere in the region and perhaps best associated with Vikings. “They bury their bodies in boats, and no one else does that. That means where that tradition comes from remains one of the biggest enigmas of this desert population, which should be the last community in the world to do this,” said Farchetti.”
The nature of the 5000 years old comings of goings through this region changed my perception of it. I see them more as a trading community and as a melting pot for ideas and technology. It was also an important region for the mining of both ammonium chloride (sal ammoniac) as well as nitrate salts which occur naturally in this region about which I have written extensively in the two articles sited in the introduction. The real development of meat curing seems to be located to the west of this region, close to the Black Sea where not only meat curing evolved but where the horse domestication took place. This region would later become the domain of the Scythians. Their culture is a very good fit for developing/ propagating meat curing technology, based on the use of nitrate salts and they existed generally in present-day Russia and Eastern Europe.
One of the groups that we find in the region by around 700 BCE is the Scythians. The Scythians occupied the ancient lands of present-day Siberia and I considered them and their ancestors one of the earliest groupings to cure their meat with nitrate salts. East of the Dnieper River within the Don and Volga basins, on the Western Front of what later would be occupied by the Scythians, between 4600 and 4200 years ago, a dominant genetic horse population appeared which replaced the wild horses that roamed Eurasia for millennia. The intimate relationship between the Scythians and horses is well attested by what we know of their culture. I have long held the belief that the art of nitrite curing, as opposed to the periodic accidental observation of the phenomenon, went hand in hand with the domestication of horses which unlocked the ability to travel vast distances and necessitated more careful planning of food resources. I have shown in previous work how transporting game carcasses on horseback cures meat through the sweat of the horses which undoubtedly was a curing method exploited by these people and re-appeared over the following centuries in many nations, including among the Dutch farmers colonizing southern Africa. (Saltpeter, Horse Sweat, and Biltong: The origins of our national food)
A map showing the Scythian Territory between c 700 and 300 BCE.
Below I share background of the Scythians for those who are not familiar with them. I use as the basis for this a short documentary on the Scythians, well worth watching, The Rise & Fall of the Original Horse Lords. You can skip over the sections dealing with them and return to it later.
How the Scythians emerged as a distinct culture from other nomads is a mystery. The Scythians were never a single nomadic people but rather a broad cultural group with regional differences. Broadly speaking, the average Scythian was pale-skinned. According to both Greek and Chinese sources, light eyes and red hair were common among them as well. While they did dress practically for the cold steppe they lived in, Scythian clothing was not primitive at all, but highly decorative, dyed in bright colours, and embroidered with complex patterns. Tattoos were common among both men and women, who used soot and bone needles to inject dark patterns under the skin. These markings depicted wild predators and mythical beasts attacking prey animals as a display of the chaotic, violent harmony of nature. Tattoos were probably administered upon worthy warriors to commemorate acts of bravery. Or as some sort of magical protection. From the spiritual powers that be.
Daily life among the Scythians was hardy and hearty. They travelled around the steppe with convoys of covered wagons, in which the woman and children rode while the men remained on horseback, herding flocks of sheep, cattle and goats. They settled in fresh grasslands by rivers, allowing their herds to drink and graze, before moving on to fresh pastures. Their diet relied heavily on the meat and milk of their herds. As they often lacked good timber, the Scythians used bones and animal droppings to fuel the fires which roasted their meat. The Scythian woman had many personal freedoms that were not afforded to women in settled civilizations many were raised learning how to ride, shoot and hunt alongside men Archaeological evidence shows that in war, they fought alongside men in significant numbers. To the ancient Greeks, in particular, the ferocity of Scythian wives and daughters were such a novelty that they became associated with the myth of the Amazonian warriors.
Politically, the Scythians were divided into several large tribal confederations. It appears that at times, certain tribes would rise up and establish domination over all the other tribes. Herodotus wrote that during this time, the most powerful Scythian tribe were the Paralatae, known also as the Royal Scythians, and they looked upon all the other tribes in the light as slaves. As we have touched on, war was one of the core pillars of Scythian culture and the lords of the steppe were always ready for battle. Scythian tactics revolved around the ability to manoeuvre easily around the heavy cavalry and cumbersome infantry of the armies of the civilized world. The Scythians were the first culture in world history to perfect the mounted archer unit, which would be the backbone of so many future nomadic armies. A horse lord born into the warrior caste would have been trained to shoot from the moment they could walk, and their bow would have been like an extension of the arm. Throughout much of the 1st millennium BCE, the Scythians and their sister tribes would fight with, conquer, or otherwise influence mindbogglingly vast territory, and enter the historical records of a diverse array of ancient cultures. The first wave of campaigns undertaken by Scythians proper began in the early 7th century BCE when they burst onto the scene and engaged in a century’s worth of warfare upon the civilizations of the Caucasus and the middle east. As one might have guessed from Herodotus’ constant appearance in this account, the Scythians have an extensive history with the Ancient Greeks, with the two worlds mainly intersecting along the northern coast of the Black Sea. The Greeks had colonies in this region since the 7th century BCE, but it was in the 4th century the Bosporan Kingdom that Greeks and Scythians truly began to live in harmony with one another, thriving as partners in the local fish, grain and slave trades. That is not to say that the Scythians always maintained peaceful relations with the Greeks.
On the contrary, some of their most devastating wars were fought against the Hellenic world. In the latter half of the 3rd century BCE, a man known to the Greeks as Ateans had become among the most powerful of Scythian Kings, ruling a vast confederation of tribes between the Danube and the Don rivers. In 339 BCE, he turned his territorial ambitions southwards, past the Thracians and into Macedon. The kingdom was still a generation away from the reign of Alexander, but the Great One’s father, Philip II, was a military genius in his own right and more than a match for the Scythians. That same year, Scythian cavalry came head to head with the Macedonian phalanx on the plains of the modern-day Dobruja. King Philip won a decisive victory. King Ateas was killed in battle and his army was scattered, his tribal confederation shattering into pieces upon his death. This greatly weakened the power of the Scythians in the Pontic steppe. Like the Western Tribes, the Scythians on the Asian end of the Altai mountains were composed of many diverse tribes but collectively are referred to as the Saka. Records of their existence are found as far east as the annals of Ham Dynasty China. According to the Chinese, the Saka originally lived between the fertile Ili and Chu river valleys, between present-day Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, but in the early 2nd century BC, they fell victim to a classic phenomenon known as the nomadic migration domino effect. The Xiongnu, predecessors of the Huns, pushed the nomadic Yuezhi people out of their homeland in modern-day Gansu, China. As a result, the Yuezhi were forced on a mass exodus westward, making war on the Sakas and pushing them out of their homeland. Thus, the Sakas in turn were forced to find themselves a new home. The Sakas did not stop in Bactria, but rode further south, through the Hindu Kush and past the ancient Indus river. Indeed, for a time, a branch of the Scythians established domination over much of Northwestern India, deposing the Indo-Greek kings who had ruled before. The Scythian presence in India would endure in some form or another, for over four centuries. Another place the Saka-Scythians had a presence was in the desert kingdom of Khotan and Schule in the Tarim Basin. Eventually, like with all peoples and cultures, the Scythian world transitioned from its golden age into its twilight years. Over the centuries, different people groups would come and replace them in different chunks of their traditional heartland, and before long, the Iranian nomads had assimilated into the medieval forebears of Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians. In India, the Scythians eventually lost their territories to other power players in the region, like the Sassanids, Indo-Parthians, and Gutas. Meanwhile, the Scythians of the Tarim Basin and most of central Asia were largely displaced and assimilated by a wave of early Turkic migration from the 6th century AD onwards, a legacy we still see today, as the majority of modern Central Asia is Turkic-speaking. The Scythian world was largely gone by the early middle ages, but the Scythian people were not wiped out entirely. The medieval Alans, who established a powerful kingdom in the Caucasus between the 9th and the 13th centuries AD, were believed to be the descendants of Queen Tomyrus and the Scythian Massagetae tribe. While their kingdom was wiped out by the Mongol invasion in 1239 AD, they remained in the region into the present day, in the form of the modern Ossetian people. Today the Scythians are a faded memory, a footnote in the history books of Greece, Iran, India, and China. Yet, as army after army of horse-riding, bow-shooting nomadic warlords thundered across the Eurasian steppe over the centuries, whether they acknowledged it or not, they were building upon the legacy of the Scythians, the first and original horse lords of the ancient world.
>> Herodotus and the Scythians
The Scythians and milk proteins:
“Now the Scythians blind all their slaves, because of the milk2 they drink; and this is how they get it: taking tubes of bone very much like flutes, they insert these into the genitalia of the mares and blow into them, some blowing while others milk. According to them, their reason for doing this is that blowing makes the mare’s veins swell and her udder drop.  When done milking, they pour the milk into deep wooden buckets, and make their slaves stand around the buckets and shake the milk; they draw off what stands on the surface and value this most; what lies at the bottom is less valued. This is why the Scythians blind all prisoners whom they take: for they do not cultivate the soil, but are nomads. 3.” (www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper)
Herodotus is describing the Scythian rivers and writes in reference to salt curing:
The fourth is the Borysthenes river. This is the next greatest after the Ister, and the most productive, in our judgment, not only of the Scythian but of all rivers, except the Egyptian Nile, with which no other river can be compared. But of the rest, the Borysthenes is the most productive; it provides the finest and best-nurturing pasture lands for beasts, and the fish in it are beyond all in their excellence and abundance. Its water is most sweet to drink, flowing with a clear current, whereas the other rivers are turbid. There is excellent soil on its banks, and very rich grass where the land is not planted; and self-formed crusts of salt abound at its mouth; it provides great spineless fish, called sturgeons, for salting, and many other wonderful things besides. (www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper)
More about salt:
How numerous the Scythians are, I was not able to learn exactly, and the accounts that I heard did not tally, some saying that they are very numerous, and some that they are few, so far as they are true Scythians. But this much they let me see for myself: there is a region between the Borysthenes and Hypanis rivers, whose name is Exampaeus; this is the land that I mentioned when I said that there is a spring of salt water in it, whose water makes the Hypanis unfit to drink.
I have now described all the nomadic Libyans who live on the coast. Farther inland than these is that Libyan country which is haunted by wild beasts, and beyond this wild beasts’ haunt runs a ridge of sand that stretches from Thebes of Egypt to the Pillars of Heracles. At intervals of about ten days’ journey along this ridge there are masses of great lumps of salt in hills; on the top of every hill, a fountain of cold sweet water shoots up from the midst of the salt; men live around it who are farthest away toward the desert and inland from the wild beasts’ country. The first on the journey from Thebes, ten days distant from there, are the Ammonians, who follow the worship of the Zeus of Thebes; for, as I have said before, the image of Zeus at Thebes has the head of a ram. They have another spring of water besides, which is warm at dawn, and colder at market-time, and very cold at noon; and it is then that they water their gardens; as the day declines, the coldness abates, until at sunset the water grows warm. It becomes ever hotter and hotter until midnight, and then it boils and bubbles; after midnight it becomes ever cooler until dawn. This spring is called the Spring of the Sun. 182.
At a distance of ten days’ journey again from the Ammonians along the sandy ridge, there is a hill of salt like that of the Ammonians, and springs of water, where men live; this place is called Augila; it is to this that the Nasamones come to gather palm-fruit. 183.
After ten days’ journey again from Augila there is yet another hill of salt and springs of water and many fruit-bearing palms, as at the other places; men live there called Garamantes, an exceedingly great nation, who sow in earth which they have laid on the salt. The shortest way to the Lotus Eaters’ country is from here, thirty days’ journey distant. Among the Garamantes are the cattle that go backward as they graze, the reason being that their horns curve forward; therefore, not being able to go forward, since the horns would stick in the ground, they walk backward grazing. Otherwise, they are like other cattle, except that their hide is thicker and harder to the touch. These Garamantes go in their four-horse chariots chasing the cave-dwelling Ethiopians: for the Ethiopian cave-dwellers are swifter of foot than any men of whom tales are brought to us. They live on snakes and lizards and such-like creeping things. Their speech is like no other in the world: it is like the squeaking of bats. 184.
Another ten days’ journey from the Garamantes there is again a salt hill and water, where men live called Atarantes. These are the only men whom we know who have no names; for the whole people are called Atarantes, but no man has a name of his own. When the sun is high, they curse and very foully revile him, because his burning heat afflicts their people and their land. After another ten days’ journey there is again a hill of salt, and water, and men living there. Near to this salt is a mountain called Atlas, whose shape is slender and conical; and it is said to be so high that its heights cannot be seen, for clouds are always on them winter and summer. The people of the country call it the pillar of heaven. These men get their name, which is Atlantes, from this mountain. It is said that they eat no living creature, and see no dreams in their sleep. 185.
I know and can tell the names of all the peoples that live on the ridge as far as the Atlantes, but no farther than that. But I know this, that the ridge reaches as far as the Pillars of Heracles and beyond them. There is a mine of salt on it every ten days’ journey, and men live there. Their houses are all built of blocks of the salt; for these are parts of Libya where no rain falls; for the walls, being of salt, could not stand firm if there were rain. The salt there is both white and purple. Beyond this ridge, the southern and inland parts of Libya are desolate and waterless: there are no wild beasts, no rain, no forests; this region is wholly without moisture. 186.
Cooking with bones:
Now as the Scythian land is quite bare of wood, this is how they contrive to cook the meat. When they have skinned the victims, they strip the meat from the bones and throw it into the cauldrons of the country, if they have them: these are most like Lesbian bowls, except that they are much bigger; they throw the meat into these, then, and cook it by lighting a fire beneath with the bones of the victims. But if they have no cauldron, then they put all the meat into the victims’ stomachs, adding water, and make a fire of the bones beneath, which burn nicely; the stomachs easily hold the meat when it is stripped from the bones; thus a steer serves to cook itself, and every other victim does likewise. When the flesh is cooked, the sacrificer takes the first-fruits of the flesh and the entrails and casts them before him. They use all grazing animals for sacrifice, but mainly horses. 62.
Euxine Sea (Black Sea):
Nowhere are men so ignorant as in the lands by the Euxine Pontus (excluding the Scythian nation) into which Darius led his army. For we cannot show that any nation within the region of the Pontus has any cleverness, nor do we know of (overlooking the Scythian nation and Anacharsis) any notable man born there. But the Scythian race has made the cleverest discovery that we know in what is the most important of all human affairs; I do not praise the Scythians in all respects, but in this, the most important: that they have contrived that no one who attacks them can escape, and no one can catch them if they do not want to be found. For when men have no established cities or forts, but are all nomads and mounted archers, not living by tilling the soil but by raising cattle and carrying their dwellings on wagons, how can they not be invincible and unapproachable? 47. (www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper)
Eating of meat:
Thus from Egypt to the Tritonian lake, the Libyans are nomads that eat meat and drink milk; for the same reason as the Egyptians too profess, they will not touch the flesh of cows; and they rear no swine. The women of Cyrene, too, consider it wrong to eat cows’ flesh, because of the Isis of Egypt; and they even honor her with fasts and festivals; and the Barcaean women refuse to eat swine too, as well as cows. 187.
Herodotus, The Histories A. D. Godley, Ed. and Herodotus, & Francis R. B. Godolphin. (1973). Herodotus: On the Scythians. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 32(5), 129–149. https://doi.org/10.2307/3269235
Scythians and the Domestication of Horses
“Eurasia was once the home of genetically distinct horse populations, but a dramatic shift occurred between 2000 BC and 2200 BC, the researchers said. A dominant genetic horse population appeared on the Western Eurasian Pontic-Caspian steppe of North Caucasus, east of the Dnieper River within the Don and Volga basins. This area is now part of Russia.
This horse population then spread out and replaced the wild horse groups roaming across Eurasia within centuries.”What our data show is that between 4,600-4,200 years ago, herders located in the Don-Volga region found a way to increase the local horse reproductive pool,” Orlando said. “That means that they could reproduce more and more such horses generation after generation. They also selected horses with specific traits.” (CNN: domestic-horses-origin-scn)
For more detail on the Don and the Volga Basin: https://www.loc.gov/resource/gdclccn.a22000911/?st=gallery
Nitrate Deposits in Georgia
I came across a 1926 report from Julius Klein from the U. S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, Director Trade Promotion Series – No. 30, that “two deposits of natural potassium nitrate have been found in the south range of the Caucasus Mountains, approximately 40 miles southeast of Tiflis (Tbilisi).”
Depending on the age of the mining and accessibility of the potassium nitrate and ammonium nitrate deposits in this Georgian region, it would place this essential salt for meat curing squarely in the hands of the horse-domesticating ancestors to the Scythians and their descendants.
In Turpan, to my knowledge, there is no great heritage of meat curing. There is definitely one of trading and one of the salts traded was ammonium chloride, a close relative of potassium or sodium nitrate. I believe it predates saltpetre (potassium nitrate) as curing salt of choice which only became popular as the availability of saltpetre became common due to its inclusion in gunpowder. Interestingly enough, both saltpetre and ammonium chloride were vigorously traded from Turpan and occurs naturally in the basin. With the existence of ammonium nitrate in Georgia, I wonder if this too could have been one of the ancient curing salts?
What is intriguing is that the nations living around the Black Sea have an immense repertoire of cured meat dishes. Any Wikipedia search will attest to this!
I include two maps. One shows the location of Turpan relative to the basin where horse domestication took place and the location in modern-day Georgia where nitrate deposits exist. The other is the distance between the site of horse domestication and the nitrate deposits. Turfan’s distance from the Black Sea is no problem since the northern silk route ran past it and the nitrate salts were traded into present-day Iran and there is very good evidence that it reached present-day Italy and Austria.
A journey that started by looking at mummification began in 2017 with Salt – 7000 years of meat-curing. I discovered the one area on earth where vast nitrate deposits occur on the top layer of soil with records of astonishing ancient technology based on the use of nitrates. Not only is nitrates replete in the basin, but in the surrounding mountains, sal ammoniac is mined and was traded into Europe along the northern silk road. “Nitrate salt’s epic journey: From Turfan in China, through Nepal to North India,” and “And then the mummies spoke!” followed. This was, however, only the beginning of the story. Frustrated by not finding strong and surviving meat curing culture in the area I kept looking, following the silk road to present-day Iran, in the search for the exact location where the horse was domesticated, knowing that cured meat must have become much more important for people who travelled vast distances on horseback. So it happened that I discovered the Scythians.
Early December 2021, I was following the rabbit trails related to the development of smokehouse technology (Robert Henderson and the Invention of the Smokehouse) and curing technology centered on the re-use of old brines. Old reports from England took me to the present-day German region of Westphalia where cold smoking was perfected with a close association with an enigmatic brine from Russia called the Empress of Russia’s Brine which calls for the re-use of old brines. Maria Didurenko, a FB friend from Russia helped me to unravel the mystery of who the Empress was, and I identified her as none other than Catherine the Great! (Westphalia Bacon and Ham & the Empress of Russia’s Brine: Pre-cursers to Mild Cured Bacon) At the same time, Milen Nenchev (Милен Ненчев), another FB friend from Sophia, Bulgaria showcased a new product which I loved and did an article on, Beef Heart Pastrami.
I long identified countries around the Black Sea are extraordinary in terms of their meat curing technology! I learned that the closest nations we have to the ancient Scythians are those living to the east around the Black Sea. The fact that Milen is from Bulgaria made me look again extremely hard at the data and it is astounding! Here live people with a level of understanding of meat curing that I have not even found in Germany! Having said that, I re-looked at the ancient links between these nations and Germany and Poland, both giants in the meat curing world and the influence from Russia.
Russia, along with the nations of Western Europe with their intimate links to the Scythians and their deep understanding of meat curing and rich history in this field made me realise that I am in the right region! All this again feeds back to the western region of China with the Turfan depression as a rich source for ancient curing salts in the form of sal ammoniac and saltpetre!
So much more to uncover, but I have a feeling that I am definitely in the right region, looking at the right nations where meat curing developed into the art, we know it today.
Herodotus, The Histories A. D. Godley, Ed.
Herodotus, & Francis R. B. Godolphin. (1973). Herodotus: On the Scythians. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 32(5), 129–149. https://doi.org/10.2307/3269235
Hunt, K.. CNN Report. 2016. DNA reveals unexpected origins of enigmatic mummies buried in a Chinese desert.
McQueen, C. A.. 1926 Department of Commerce Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce. Julius Klein, Director Trade Promotion Series – No . 30, Government Printing Office
Piotrovsky, B.. 1973 – 1974. Early Cultures of the Lands of the Scythians. The Metropolitan Museum of Art BulletinNew Series, Vol. 32, No. 5, From the Lands of the Scythians: Ancient Treasures from the Museums of the U.S.S.R. 3000 B.C.-100 B.C. (1973 – 1974), pp. 12-25 (14 pages)Published by: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Strickland, A. (Reporter, CNN) The moment domesticated horses changed the course of human history is now revealed.
https://www.worldhistory.org/uploads/images/14359.png?v=1632342602 (Map of the territory of the Scythians)