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In the far eastern edge of the desolate Taklamakan Desert, hundreds of kilometers from the nearest settlement, a clump of dense wooden stakes mark the spot of a 4,000-year-old cemetery.

The cemetery lies on top of a small sand dune. The wooden posts, whose tops have been splintered by centuries of strong wind, are the tombstones of those who lie buried beneath. The dry summer and frigid winters have helped preserve the bodies to such an extent that one can still see the features and contours of their faces. One of these mummified bodies, nicknamed the “Beauty of Xiaohe”, must have been a stunningly beautiful women when she was alive. Her body has survived even down to her delicate eyelashes.

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