Chinese Villagers 'Descended From Roman Soldiers'

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Genetic testing
of villagers in a remote part of China has shown that nearly two
thirds of their DNA is of Caucasian origin, lending support to the
theory that they may be descended from a ‘lost legion’ of Roman

Tests found
that the DNA of some villagers in Liqian, on the fringes of the
Gobi Desert in north-western China, was 56 per cent Caucasian in

Many of the
villagers have blue or green eyes, long noses and even fair hair,
prompting speculation that they have European blood.

A local man,
Cai Junnian, is nicknamed by his friends and relatives Cai Luoma,
or Cai the Roman, and is one of many villagers convinced that he
is descended from the lost legion.

plan to conduct digs in the region, along the ancient Silk Route,
to search for remains of forts or other structures built by the
fabled army.

"We hope
to prove the legend by digging and discovering more evidence of
China’s early contacts with the Roman Empire," Yuan Honggeng,
the head of a newly-established Italian Studies Centre at Lanzhou
University in Gansu province, told the China Daily newspaper.

The genetic
tests have leant weight to the theory that Roman legionaries settled
in the area in the first century BC after fleeing a disastrous battle.

The clash took
place in 53BC between an army led by Marcus Crassus, a Roman general,
and a larger force of Parthians, from what is now Iran, bringing
to an abrupt halt the Roman Empire’s eastwards expansion.

Thousands of
Romans were slaughtered and Crassus himself was beheaded, but some
legionaries were said to have escaped the fighting and marched east
to elude the enemy.

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26, 2010

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