Unveiling steppe culture origin

Nov 29. Kazpravda. Karaganda region

By Natalia RYZHKOVA

Unveiling steppe culture originThe soon-to-open Kazakhstan Natural History Museum will be filled with a considerable number of Karaganda exhibits — about 200 gold articles found in  “Taldy -2”  burial mound.

Accuracy of the historical information is everyone’s responsibility: those unearthing an artifact, describing and processing it, making a snapshot of the article found, says Arman Beisenov- head of the primitive archeology department of the A.Margulan Institute of Archaeology, who opened the Taldy -2 mound.

– The Karaganda scientists largely owe the unique discovery to the financial support from the local administration and department of culture. In fact, the archaeological project’s initiator was Serik Akhmetov during his tenure as governor of the region. A. Beisenov believes that Karaganda region will take up its rightful place in the collection of the Natural History Museum.

Researchers of the Sary-Arka Institute of Archaeology under KarGU (Karaganda state University), who avail of wonderful collections of Bronze Age pottery, will contribute to it too. It should be remembered, historians say that it takes years to collect the unique articles. Excavations are carried out countrywide before the discoveries are made, changing stereotype perceptions of the past.

The scientist compares ancient history of our country to a river, each drop of which is a piece of evidence, obtained by archaeologists. All these droplets make a stream. This work therefore, takes a full dedication of everyone involved in research- from academician to a lab assistant.

It was the scientist’s 31st field season. Together with a group of scientists from the A.Margulan Institute of Archaeology he is engaged in two projects (grant project “Origins of steppe civilization” , “Cultural Heritage” ) and in planned excavations on the country’s territory, Karaganda region including.

A big expert team is engaged in the research of   “The origins of the steppe civilization : comprehensive study of monuments of the Stone Age , Bronze Age and Early Iron Age of Kazakhstan”, on a 3-year grant of the Education and Science Ministry. Excavations at a Stone Age site in Ulytau district are led by Olga Artyuhova- Kazakhstan’s and Eurasian prominent archaeologist, who has discovered a lot of monuments.

The Bronze Age is “in the hands” of the another prominent scientist — Antonina Ermolayeva . Excavations are ongoing in Taldysai settlement, Ulytau district, which has been under study long enough. Taldysai used to be residence of ancient metal makers, which is not very common in itself.

The latest news came from the KarGU University archaeologists working on the Alat settlement in the outskirts of the ancient Kent, Karkaraly district that in the place where the Bronze Age furnaces stood, the traces of iron-melting works were found.

Paradoxically, it turns out that in Central Kazakhstan  iron and bronze were melted by people who lived in the late Bronze Age, long before the Iron Age, — says archaeologist Valery Evdokimov. — It was at the turn of the first and second millennia BC, during the transition period. From it we infer that the center of Kazakhstan produced iron two or three centuries before Saks, who lived later in the Iron Age.

Indeed, in the Saks’ culture iron knives and other sharp objects were traced only from the VII century BC, and iron appeared first in the use of only rich people and the military elite, as it is an expensive metal that was made not by molding, but by a more complex method.

Studies of the Bronze and Early Iron Ages by scientists of the A.Margulan Archaeology Institute, coupled with the discoveries of the Karaganda archaeologists at Alat help track the origins of the steppe civilization, which reveals itself in the early Iron Age in the articles of Saks period in Eurasia. It is what the Siberian archaeologists assumed. What are the origins of the steppe civilization then? Did it come from outside, migrated from somewhere or did it originate here, in the steppe? – That is the question the scientists are yet to answer and explain the phenomenon of high Saks’ culture.

The scientists want to piece together all the mentioned finds to glean the evidences of Begazy — Dandybay culture — forerunner of Saks. In it every minutia counts, the archaeologist says. — Kazakhstan was generally considered to be the ancient land of cattle breeders, but the mentioned discoveries prove that it is an ancient country of steppe metal makers.

These are the two pillars of steppe culture, nomadic way of life and cattle-breeding on the one hand, and developed metal making, domicile settlements with artisans on the other. The two constituents complement each other, the scientists claim. Steppe civilization is a turbulent stream of centuries, that swept through the plains of Central Kazakhstan , laying open the hidden layers , mixing the unmixable , throwing to the surface the obvious. And it’s up to the archaeologists to sort out and compartmentalize this pouring out stream.

In the local history museum, the Saks’ objects in the animal style and excavation finds are exhibited. The history of the burial sites takes up a whole room. These man-made structures are the evidences of colossal human efforts, skills and materials that the construction of the burial mound took. Every large mound tells a story that has yet to be unveiled.

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