London, Nov 26 (ANI): A new study has claimed that the green-eyed residents of the remote north western Chinese village of Liqian may be the descendants of a lost Roman legion that settled in the area.
DNA testing of the villagers has shown that almost two thirds of them are of Caucasian origin - they have green eyes and blonde hair, reports the Daily Mail.
According to Oxford professor Homer Dubs, the group travelled east, were captured by the Chinese and founded Liqian in 36BC. Then they made their way as a mercenary troop eastwards, which was how a troop 'with a fish-scale formation' came to be captured by the Chinese 17 years later.
He said the 'fish-scale formation' was a reference to the Roman 'tortoise', a phalanx protected by shields on all sides and from above. Dubs collected together stories from the official histories, which said that Liqian was founded by soldiers captured in a war between the Chinese and the Huns in 36BC, and the legend of the missing army of Marcus Crassus, a Roman general.
Marcus Licinius Crassus was, alongside Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great was one of the three most powerful people in the world and one of the richest men in history.
His legions were defeated at the Battle of Carrhae in modern-day Turkey, where his son was beheaded. According to legend Crassus was also beheaded and gold poured into his open mouth as an illustration of his greed.
Archaeologists discovered that one of the tombs was for someone who was around six foot tall - raising the possibility that Roman legionnaires had been buried in the hills there.
Fellow academics have described Dubs' theory as 'interesting and provocative' but have criticised it as jumping to too many conclusions.
Yang Gongle, professor with Beijing Normal University, said there has not been sufficient proof to link the villagers with the ancient Romans. He said that Liqian County was established in 104 BC, half a century earlier than the proposed arrival of the Roman soldiers.
And he noted that the fish-scale formation had nothing to do with Roman legion's famous 'testudo' strategy. The double wooden palisade, which might have looked like fish scales, was widely used in constructions in Central Asia and India at that time, Yang said.
Maurizio Bettini, an anthropologist from Siena University, was also unimpressed by theory, which he has dismissed as 'a fairy tale'.
"Without proof of this kind, the story of the lost legions is just a legend," he said. (ANI)