It is unknown whether the Tocharians were related to the people who lived in the same area, the Tarim Basin in Xinjiang, between 4000 and 2000 years ago, and who left mummies, the first of which was discovered by archaeologist Wang Binghua in 1978. These people had strikingly European features and were dressed in tartans.

A detailed study of the weaving style by Elizabeth Wayland Barber, in her book The Mummies of Ürümchi, led her to conclude that the mummified people were Celts, another western Indo-European-speaking people. (And therefore not ancestral to Tocharians, a different branch.)