From "Dineke's Anthropology Blog, May 20, 2011
Where did the Tocharians originate from?
J.P. Mallory's recent talk has been somewhat of an eye-opener for me, as Prof. Mallory brought to my attention two important issues:
The lack of a clear connection between Afanasyevo and the Tarim Basin.
The existence (in Tocharian) of a rich agricultural IE terminology related to cereals, as well as the domesticated pig, which cannot be easily explained if Tocharians arrived in Xinjiang from the steppes to the north, and, ultimately from eastern Europe.
To begin with, I want to point out an important issue: we cannot assume that the earliest Caucasoids of Xinjiang, including some of the famous early Tarim mummies were Tocharian speaking. There are several arguments why this is so:..................................
Interested? Go to Dineke's Anthropology Blog
Her conclusion, I'm glad to share with you:
The mystery of the Tocharians may be that there is no mystery. The Tocharians are revealed to have been just another West Asian branch of the Indo-European family that, unlike most of its cousins, went east, absorbed Northern Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and South Asian population elements, emerged long enough in history to leave us a written record of their presence, before succumbing to the Xiongnu and the Mongols.
Thankfully, by combining the remnants of their language, and fragments of their DNA in their descendants, we are able to reconstruct the history of this, once forgotten people.