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Tocharian (Exterminated by Chinese Expansion)

The Tocharians or Tokharians (/tÉ?Ë?kÉ?É?riÉ?nz/ or /tÉ?Ë?kÉ?ːriÉ?nz/) were Indo-European peoples who inhabited the medieval oasis city-states on the northern edge of the Tarim Basin (modern Xinjiang, China) in ancient times.

The Tocharian languages, a branch of the Indo-European family, are known from manuscripts from the 6th to 8th centuries AD. The name “Tocharian” was given to them by modern scholars, who identified their speakers 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.

Agricultural communities first appeared in the oases of the northern Tarim circa 2000 BC. (The earliest Tarim mummies, which may not be connected to the Tocharians, date from c. 1800 BC.) Some scholars have linked these communities to the Afanasievo culture found earlier (c. 3500â??2500 BC) in Siberia, north of the Tarim or Central Asian BMAC culture.

By the 2nd century BC, these settlements had developed into city states, overshadowed by nomadic peoples to the north and Chinese empires to the east. These cities, the largest of which was Kucha, also served as way stations on the branch of the Silk Road that ran along the northern edge of the Taklamakan desert.

From the 8th century AD, the Uyghurs â?? speakers of a Turkic language from the Kingdom of Qocho â?? settled in the region. The peoples of the Tarim city states intermixed with the Uyghurs, whose Old Uyghur language spread through the region. The Tocharian languages are believed to have become extinct during the 9th century.

Tocharian also spelled Tokharian (/tÉ?Ë?kÉ?É?riÉ?n/ or /tÉ?Ë?kÉ?ːriÉ?n/), is an extinct branch of the Indo-European language family. It is known from manuscripts dating from the 6th to the 8th century AD, which were found in oasis cities on the northern edge of the Tarim Basin (now part of Xinjiang in northwest China). The discovery of these languages in the early 20th century contradicted the formerly prevalent idea of an eastâ??west division of the Indo-European language family on the centumâ??satem isogloss, and prompted reinvigorated study of the family. Identifying the authors with the Tokharoi people of ancient Bactria (Tokharistan), early authors called these languages “Tocharian”. Although this identification is now generally considered mistaken, the name has remained.

The documents record two closely related languages, called Tocharian A (“East Tocharian”, Agnean or Turfanian) and Tocharian B (“West Tocharian” or Kuchean). The subject matter of the texts suggests that Tocharian A was more archaic and used as a Buddhist liturgical language, while Tocharian B was more actively spoken in the entire area from Turfan in the east to Tumshuq in the west. A body of loanwords and names found in Prakrit documents have been dubbed Tocharian C (Kroränian).


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