This essay investigates the history of Turfan research during the German Empire. Two points stand on center stage: Firstly, archaeology can be considered as one type of imperialist power politics in a cultural sense. Conflicts on the spot arose between German, Russian, French, and British archaeologist, since explorers of each nation intended to occupy spaces of excavation. Secondly, the quest for the ‘Urheimat’, which was the leitmotif of these expeditions, was also a quest for the cultural identity of the nation. This essay argues that myths on historical migration defined diverse and historically changeable concepts of identity. The archaeological objects needed to be interpreted at first, and this process opened up possibilities to locate the relicts of Turfan in cosmopolitan, but also in völkisch and racial concepts of culture and civilization.