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The Tocharians or Tokharians were Indo-European speaking peoples who inhabited oasis city-states on the northern edge of the Tarim Basin (modern Xinjiang, China). Medieval documents attest to two language, Tocharian A and Tocharian B. From the 8th century AD, the Uyghurs, speakers of a Turkic language, settled in the region and the Tocharian languages became extinct.

The Tarim mummies are a series of mummies discovered in the Tarim Basin, which date from 1800 BCE to the first centuries BCE. The mummies, particularly the early ones, are frequently associated with the Tocharians, although the evidence is not totally conclusive and many centuries separate these mummies from the first attestation of the Tocharian languages in writing.

The sinologist Victor H. Mair's team concluded that the mummies are Caucasoid, likely speakers of Indo-European languages such as the Tocharians. Mair stated that "The new finds are also forcing a reexamination of old Chinese books that describe historical or legendary figures of great height, with deep-set blue or green eyes, long noses, full beards, and red or blond hair. Scholars have traditionally scoffed at these accounts, but it now seems that they may be accurate."

The name "Tocharian" was given by modern scholars, who identified speakers of the languages with a people who inhabited Bactria from the 2nd century BC, and were known in Ancient Greek sources as the Tókharoi (Latin Tochari). This identification is generally considered erroneous, but the name "Tocharian" remains the most common term for the languages and their speakers.

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