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Albert von Le Coq (1860 – 1930) was a German archaeologist and explorer of Central Asia. He was heir to a sizable fortune derived from breweries and wineries scattered throughout Central and Eastern Europe, thus allowing him the luxury of travel and study at the - no longer existing - Ethnology Museum (German: Museum für Völkerkunde) in Berlin. Serving as assistant to the head of the Museum, Professor Albert Grünwedel, Le Coq helped plan and organize expeditions into the regions of western Asia, specifically areas near the Silk Road such as Gaochang. When Grünwedel fell ill before the departure of the second expedition, Le Coq was assigned to lead it. His account of the second and third German Turpan expeditions was published in English in 1928 as "Buried Treasures of Chinese Turkestan".

The expeditions found extensive networks of Buddhist and Manichaean cave temples in what is now north west China. Although many of the manuscripts found in the cave were destroyed during the excavation, von Le Coq speculated that he had discovered a major Manichaean library. Some of the paintings also led him to believe that he had found evidence of an "Aryan" culture, related to the Franks. With the help of his assistant Bartus, Le Coq carved and sawed away over 360 kilograms (or 305 cases) of artifacts, wall-carvings, and precious icons, which were subsequently shipped to the museum. In Buried Treasures ..., Le Coq explains these "borrowings" as a matter of necessity, citing the turbulent nature of Turkestan at the time of the expeditions. The artifacts were put on display at the museum and were open to the public until 1944 when, ironically, the museum suffered a direct hit in a British bombing raid, reducing the artifacts to rubble.

Le Coq said that the depictions of figures with apparently blue eyes, red hair and cruciform swords resembled Frankish art: "Such more striking are representations of red-haired, blue-eyed men with faces of a pronounced European type. We connect these people with the Aryan language found in these parts in so many manuscripts.. These red haired people wear suspenders from their belts.. a remarkable ethnological peculiarity!"

References and further reading

  • von Le Coq, Albert (1928), Barwell, Anna, trans., ed., Buried Treasures of Chinese Turkestan: An Account of the Activities and Adventures of the Second and Third German Turpan Expeditions, London: George Allen & Unwin   (Repr: 1985, OUP. ISBN 0-19-583878-5)
  • Hopkirk, Peter (1980), Foreign Devils on the Silk Road: The Search for the Lost Cities and Treasures of Chinese Central Asia, Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, ISBN 0-87023-435-8  
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Albert von Le Coq (1860–1930) was a German archaeologist and explorer of Central Asia. He was heir to a sizable fortune derived from breweries and wineries scattered throughout Central and Eastern Europe, thus allowing him the luxury of travel and study at the - no longer existing - Ethnology Museum (German: Museum für Völkerkunde) in Berlin. Serving as assistant to the head of the Museum, Professor Albert Grünwedel, Le Coq helped plan and organize expeditions into the regions of western Asia, specifically areas near the Silk Road such as Gaochang. When Grünwedel fell ill before the departure of the second expedition, Le Coq was assigned to lead it. His account of the second and third German Turpan expeditions was published in English in 1928 as "Buried Treasures of Chinese Turkestan".

The expeditions found extensive networks of Buddhist and Manichaean cave temples in what is now north west China. Although many of the manuscripts found in the cave were destroyed during the excavation, von Le Coq speculated that he had discovered a major Manichaean library. Some of the paintings also led him to believe that he had found evidence of an "Aryan" culture, related to the Franks. With the help of his assistant Bartus, Le Coq carved and sawed away over 360 kilograms (or 305 cases) of artifacts, wall-carvings, and precious icons, which were subsequently shipped to the museum. In Buried Treasures ..., Le Coq explains these "borrowings" as a matter of necessity, citing the turbulent nature of Turkestan at the time of the expeditions. The artifacts were put on display at the museum and were open to the public until 1944 when, ironically, the museum suffered a direct hit in a British bombing raid, reducing the artifacts to rubble[citation needed].

Le Coq said that the depictions of figures with apparently blue eyes, red hair and cruciform swords resembled Frankish art: "Such more striking are representations of red-haired, blue-eyed men with faces of a pronounced European type. We connect these people with the Aryan language found in these parts in so many manuscripts.. These red haired people wear suspenders from their belts.. a remarkable ethnological peculiarity!"[citation needed]

References and further reading

  • von Le Coq, Albert (1928), Barwell, Anna, trans., ed., [Expression error: Unexpected < operator Buried Treasures of Chinese Turkestan: An Account of the Activities and Adventures of the Second and Third German Turpan Expeditions], London: George Allen & Unwin  (Repr: 1985, OUP. ISBN 0-19-583878-5)
  • Hopkirk, Peter (1980), [Expression error: Unexpected < operator Foreign Devils on the Silk Road: The Search for the Lost Cities and Treasures of Chinese Central Asia], Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, ISBN 0-87023-435-8 

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