Abstract

As the junction of the Silk Roads, the Tarim Basin played a critical role in human migration and cultural interaction between the East and the West. Recently, population migration patterns have been increasingly reconstructed from strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr) in archaeological human skeletons, and further constraints on their provenance require a bioavailable 87Sr/86Sr map across the basin. Based on measurement data from 44 river samples in this study and 29 samples from published data, we generate the first map of bioavailable 87Sr/86Sr values across the Tarim Basin and the neighbouring area. From the baseline map, three geologically distinct regions can be identified: (1) the Yili Block, Tian Shan orogenic belt and northern Tarim Block with lower ratios (0.7105 ± 0.0007 (1σ), n = 25); (2) the southern Tarim Block with higher ratios (0.7118 ± 0.0008, n = 29); and (3) the eastern Pamir Block with diverse values (0.7110 ± 0.0009, n = 19). This map is a promising tool for recognizing the origins of immigrants in the Tarim Basin and may aid understanding of the migration patterns and cultural communication along the Silk Roads.

You do not currently have access to this article.