"To the east of Hotan are rocky cliffs, and still farther east there is a desert of shifting sands. Travelers leave no tracks in the sand; thus very often they lose their way. To mark the route, they pile up bones. There are no rivers or vegetation here, only very hot winds."
This is an excellent description of the great Taklimakan desert, a wilderness so formidable that travelers along the Silk Road had to edge along its northern or southern border. Taklimakan means "those who go in, do not come out." Many ancient, desiccated corpses have been excavated from these sands in recent decades. DNA analysis reveals that the people were of mixed ancestry, some having both European and Siberian genetic markers, while others were of East Asian origin.