Archeology and History of the Silk Road



Saturday, 23 August 2014

Researchers come across trove of Buddhist artifacts

The Korea Herald, 21 August 2014

South Korean researchers said Thursday they have uncovered dozens of artifacts used in Buddhist ceremonies nearly a millennium ago, as they begin to unravel the mystery behind an ancient shrine where they were discovered.

The 77 artifacts include a vajra, a type of club with ribbed spherical heads, bells and censers thought to be from the Joseon era (1392-1910), or possibly even earlier.

Researchers at the Seoul Institute of Cultural Heritage were wrapping up an archaeological field survey on Dobong Seowon, a tiny shrine for two Joseon-era scholars in northern Seoul, when they came upon a pot containing the objects.
This photo provided by the Seoul Institute of Cultural Heritage shows a Buddhist ritual bell from the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) uncovered at the site of Dobong Seowon, a Joseon-era (1392-1910) shrine in northern Seoul. (Yonhap)

Scientists said the artifacts could even be from the earlier Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), as the site of their discovery matches the location of a Goryeo temple ― one of the utensils even bears its name, the Dobong Temple.

Joo Kyeong-mi, a professor specializing in metalcraft, said the artifacts seem to be from the 11th century “at the latest,” as some of them exhibit traits unique to those found from the eighth and ninth centuries.

The fact that the pot was wrapped in a straw mat also suggests it may have been buried intentionally, she added.

Although the field survey was conducted in 2012, researchers said it took them two years to ensure that the artifacts would not decompose.

They were put on display at Seoul’s National Palace Museum of Korea on Thursday in an exhibit cohosted by the South Korean government. (Yonhap)

National Geographic Silk Road Exhibition Returns to Kazakhstan

Along Shokan Ualikhanov’s Caravan Track, an educational expedition organised by the National Geographic Society and dedicated to the 180th anniversary of the scholar’s birth,  came back to Kazakhstan on Aug. 6. National Geographic Society representatives, as well as Ordenbek Mazbayev, a professor at Gumilyov Eurasian National University, Smailzhan Iminov, a researcher of Ualikhanov’s expeditions, a reporter and CTB TV channel cameraman, flew to Urumqi, China on July 24 to start the expedition.
IMG_3654(1)The route included the cities of the Great Silk Road Ualikhanov visited 155 years ago while traveling to Kashgaria, China. During 12 days, the expeditionists went by vehicle to territories in China and Kyrgyzstan, visiting Urumqi, Karashahar, Korla, Kuchar, Aksu, Kashgar, Artush, Yangisar, Yarkend, Kagalyk, Hotan, Kashgar, Turagat, Naryn, Tash-Rabar and Bishkek.
The expedition participants collected materials about the history, geography, etnography, and linguistics of Kashgaria and learned the routes of Ualikhanov, Marco Polo, Nikolay Przhevalsky, Karl Mannerheim, Gunnar Jarring and Yuri Rerikh.
According to Director of the Kazakh Institute of Geography Akhmetkala Medeu, the expedition gave the opportunity to inquire about changes that took place in population composition, natural conditions and lifestyle throughout the centuries.
“The expedition to Kashgaria is a very interesting project. We have to learn the territory of our neighbours in order to understand them better,” explained Medeu.
The head of the expedition Smailzhan Iminov said that despite the fact that Ualikhanov finished his expedition more that 150 years ago, this region still remains unknown and less explored and a lot of secrets have to be exposed.
“Kashgaria was always a mysterious land. A lot of researchers of that time wanted to discover it. Ualikhanov spent five months there and despite the fact he wrote a book about his journey, a lot of facts remain to be unveiled. We will visit the cities that were poorly decribed,” said Iminov.
Candidate of geographical sciences Kadyr Musa said that he collected a lot of useful data about landscape changes.
“This is a unique route. We passed through ridges, intermontane valleys and gorges. The landscape has changed dramatically, I should say. Some of the rivers dried out or changed their streamway,” said Musa.
Biologist and regional ethnographer of the Eurasian National University Zhashayir Karagoizhin noted that plants described by Ualikhanov can still be found. However, the climate has changed in some parts of the region, so we can assume that Ualikhanov saw another kind of nature concerning flora and fauna. New types of plants have emerged. For instance, expeditionists noticed dog roses in the Kyzyl Yar canyon, which are not typical for the region.  
IMG_8126“I think it was a successful trip. I could only imagine how challenging it was for Ualikhanov to complete the expedition. It was snowing heavily when we were climbing up the mountains and as we know, the Ualikhanov expedition took place in the fall and the return trip was organised in March. Moreover, he was only 22 years old. Despite the young age he created a great treatise which is highly valued in the history of orientalism,” explained Iminov.
The expedition also had a tourism purpose. Researchers noted that Central Asia has a lot of interesting places for discoverers. Collected materials will be used in the project called Central Asian Golden Ring, which is aimed to unite touristic opportunities of the Central Asian states together with China.
Ualikhanov, who decided to participate in the expedition in 1858, passed the route as part of the merchant’s caravan. He traveled in a mask as a merchant named Alimbay. After 11 months, he came back to Verny (now Almaty) and wrote a report, “About Altynshar condition or about six oriental cities of the Chineese province Nan Loo (1858-1859)”. The treatise was highly appreciated by Russian orientalists and soon after was republished in English. 

Friday, 22 August 2014

Prospects for the Study of Dunhuang Manuscripts: The Next 20 Years

Prospects for the Study of Dunhuang Manuscripts:
The Next 20 Years 

Conference at Princeton UniversitySeptember 6-8, 2014

The conference is free and open to the public, though advance registration is required.
Click Here To Register by August 15, 2014
Or. 8210/S. 6983, a Chinese manuscript booklet of chapter 25 of the Lotus Sutra, held in the British Library
Co-sponsored by:Princeton University Buddhist Studies WorkshopInternational Liaison Committee for Dunhuang Studies, with Major Funding from The Henry Luce Foundation
Co-organizers: Stephen F. Teiser (Princeton Univ.), TAKATA Tokio (Kyoto Univ.)
The roughly 60,000 texts uncovered in the Mogao Caves at Dunhuang (Gansu Province, northwestern China) in the year 1900 constitute one of the greatest historical discoveries of the modern age. Most are handwritten on paper, although the corpus also includes the world’s oldest dated printed text, a copy of the Diamond Sutra produced by xylography in 868. Most of the texts are Buddhist scriptures written in Chinese or Tibetan, but a wide range of languages from the ancient Silk Road are also represented, including Uyghur, Sanskrit, Sogdian, Khotanese, and Hebrew. In addition to Buddhist canonical texts the hoard includes liturgies, early Chan (Zen) compositions, Daoist scriptures, Nestorian texts, Manichaean hymns, vernacular poems, Chinese classics, performance literature, schoolbook primers, writing exercises, census registers, local government documents, divorce decrees, loan agreements, and wills.
The conference features research in all disciplines of Dunhuang manuscript studies, including religious studies, literature, history, linguistics, and paleography. 29 papers will be presented by  scholars involved in the International Liaison Committee for Dunhuang Studies from greater China, Japan, Europe, and the US.
Two keynote addresses (by FANG Guangchang, Shanghai Normal University, and Susan Whitfield, International Dunhuang Project) are also planned, one on Saturday, Sept. 6 at 9:00 am, and one on Monday, Sept. 8, at 4:30 pm, the latter followed by a public reception.
The languages of the conference will be Chinese and English, and papers will be written in either language. Brief abstracts will be available in both Chinese and English. At the conference, simultaneous interpretation/translation will not be provided, but local students will assist in discussion.

Conference Program

(Draft) Program

International Conference at Princeton University, September 6-8, 2014
Theme: Prospects for the Study of Dunhuang Manuscripts: The Next 20 Years
普林斯頓大學學術國際研討會, 2014 96-8
Co-sponsors: Princeton University Buddhist Studies Workshop
International Liaison Committee for Dunhuang Studies
Major Funding from the Henry Luce Foundation
Co-organizers: Stephen F. Teiser (Princeton University), Takata Tokio (Kyoto University)
會議組織者太史文 (普林斯頓大學), 高田時雄 (京都大學)
Panels and lectures held in Jones Hall 202, unless noted otherwise. All panels and lectures are free and open to the public.
會議和分組討論的地點: Jones Hall, 202室. 如安排在不同的地點, 請注意會議的具體提示. 所有的發言和討論組是公開免費的.
The languages of the conference are Chinese and English. Papers and discussion will take place in either Chinese or English. Brief bilingual abstracts will be distributed at the conference, but simultaneous interpretation/translation will not be provided. In the program below, the language used in presenting each paper is listed first.
本次會議的工作語言是漢語和英語. 論文和討論使用中文或英文.會議期間將有發言的雙語摘要,可是不會設置同聲傳譯.在以下的日程安排裏, 每篇發言所使用的語言即雙語篇名中首先列出的語言.
Advance registration before September 1, 2014, is required at the conference website:
參加者必須在9 月1 日以前在會議的網站上註冊:
* Indicates meals provided for pre-registered participants.
Due to space limitations, the Rare Books Excursion on September 8 is limited to foreign speakers not residing in the US.
由於空間的局限, 9 月 8 日的善本書的參觀僅限於來自美國以外的發言人.

Friday, September 5 (9  5 )
Afternoon        Arrival and Hotel registration. 下午: 賓客抵達, 賓館登記入注
7:00-8:30 pm    Dinner.Nassau Inn, Conference Room.晚餐

Saturday, September 6 (9  6 )
8:00-8:50             Breakfast* and RegistrationJones 203早餐會議注冊 
9:00-9:30             Welcoming Remarks歡迎致辭.
Stephen F. Teiser (Princeton University), 高田時雄 (京都大學), Wei Wu (Princeton University)
9:30-10:30          Opening Keynote Lecture. 大會發言
主持人郝春文 (首都師範大學). Moderator: Hao Chunwen (Capital Normal University)
方廣錩 (上海師範大學), 敦煌遺書數字化的現狀, 基本思路, 目前實踐及設想. Fang Guangchang (Shanghai Normal University), The Status, Basic Concepts, Current Practice and Plan of the Digitization of Dunhuang Manuscripts
10:45-12:15       Panel 1: Religious Interchange第一組宗教互動
Moderator: Victor H. Mair (University of Pennsylvania).主持人: 梅維恆 (賓夕法尼亞大學)
Individual papers: 20 min. Individual discussion: 5 min. Concluding discussion: 15 min.
                  發言時間: 二十分鐘. 論文討論: 五分鐘. 集中討論: 十五分鐘
Huaiyu Chen (Arizona State University), The Benji jing and the Anle jing: Reflections on Two Daoist and Christian Manuscripts from Turfan and Dunhuang. 陳懷宇 (亞利桑那州立大學),《本際經》與《安樂經》: 略論兩種西域出土文獻之聯係
汪娟(台灣銘傳大學), 敦煌景教文獻對佛教儀文的吸收與轉化. Wang Chuan (Taiwan Ming Chuan University), 0n some Dunhuang Nestorian manuscripts bearing certain resemblances to the type of Buddhist rituals
杨秀清(中国敦煌研究院), 道教的大众化与唐宋时期敦煌大众的道教思想——以敦煌文献中为心的研究 . Yang Xiuqing (China Dunhuang Research Academy), The Popularization of Daoism and the Daoist Thoughts of the Publics in Dunhuang during the T’ang-Song Period——A Dunhuang-Manuscripts-centered Study
12:15                       Group Photograph會議代表集體合影
12:30-2:00          Lunch*Frist Multi-Purpose Room A. 午餐
2:00-4:00             Panel 2: Education, Literacy第二組教育讀寫
Moderator: Valerie Hansen (Yale University). 主持人: 韓森 (耶魯大學)
Individual papers: 20 min. Individual discussion: 5 min. Concluding discussion: 20 min.
                  發言時間: 二十分鐘. 論文討論: 五分鐘. 集中討論: 二十分鐘
Rebecca Shuang Fu (University of Pennsylvania), Writing via Scribes, Signing with Marks: A Study of the Literacy Practices of Commoners in Medieval Turfan and Dunhuang. 傅爽 (賓夕法尼亞賓州大學), 以人代筆、以符為名:中古時期吐魯番和敦煌的平民讀寫實踐管窺
Imre Galambos (University of Cambridge), A Chinese primer beyond the frontier: Medieval copies of the Mengqiu. 高奕睿 (劍橋大學), 作為唐宋寫本與刻本的《蒙求》
Irina POPOVA (Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, Russian Academy of Sciences), A Fragment of Political Treatise in Dunhuang School Manual. 波波娃 (俄羅斯藏科學院東方文獻研究所), 敦煌教育文獻中的政論殘片
游自勇 (首都师范大学), 敦煌写本S.2078V“史大奈碑”习字之研究. You Ziyong (Capital Normal University), A Study of the Student Writing Practice “Stele for Shi Danai” on Dunhuang Manuscript S.2078v
4:30-6:00             Panel 3: Tantra第三組密教
Moderator: Stephen F. Teiser (Princeton University). 主持人: 太史文 (普林斯頓大學)
Individual papers: 20 min. Individual discussion: 5 min. Concluding discussion: 15 min.
                  發言時間: 二十分鐘. 論文討論: 五分鐘. 集中討論: 十五分鐘
鄭阿財 (南華大學), 《佛頂心大陀羅尼經》在漢字文化圈的傳布. Cheng A-tsai (Nan Hua University), The Spread of the Sūtra of Great Dhāraī of the Uṣṇīa-cittā in the Sinosphere
Amanda Goodman (University of Toronto), Codicological Considerations in the Dating of the Dunhuang Manuscript Copies of the Tanfa yize. 葛玫 (加拿大多伦多大学), 從手稿學的角度考量敦煌遗書中《壇法儀則》曆史年代的測定
Zhaohua Yang (Columbia University), Skull Rituals in Dunhuang: Reconsidering Tantric Transgression in Middle Period China (618-1276). 楊朝華 (哥倫比亞大學), 敦煌的骷髏儀式–關於中世(618-1276)漢傳密教逸脫儀軌的反思
6:00-7:30             Dinner*. Schultz Dining Room, Woodrow Wilson School. 晚餐

Sunday, September 7 (9  7 )

8:15                          Breakfast*.Jones 203.早餐
9:00-11:00          Panel 4: Poetry第四組詩學
主持人王三慶 (國立成功大學). Moderator: Wang San-ching (National Cheng Kung University)
Individual papers: 20 min. Individual discussion: 5 min. Concluding discussion: 20 min.
                  發言時間: 二十分鐘. 論文討論: 五分鐘. 集中討論: 二十分鐘
Mary Anne Cartelli (Hunter College of the City University of New York), The Mount Wutai Poems and Painting of Dunhuang. 高德麗 (紐約市立大學亨特學院), 敦煌的五台山詩歌和壁畫
Thomas J. Mazanec (Princeton University), Putting Tang Poetry to Work: Another Look at Guanxiu’s Poem Found in P.2104 and S.4037.  馬泰明 (普林斯頓大學), 為如來服務——再探P.2104, S.4037中貫休的詩
永田知之 (京都大学), 王梵志詩與敦煌寺學的教材―以《敦煌秘笈》羽30號文書為材料.NAGATA Tomoyuki (Kyoto University), The Poems of Wang Fanzhi and the Educational Materials in Dunhuang Temples: An Analysis of Dunhuang Manuscript Hane 30
Christopher Nugent (Williams College), Putting his Materials to Use: Experiencing a Li Bai Yuefu in Manuscript and Early Print Documents. 倪健 (威廉大學), 任用其材: 以敦煌抄本與早期刊本體會李白之一首樂府詩
11:15-12:45       Panel 5: Networks and Communication第五組聯繫與交流
Moderator: Irina Popova (Institute of Oriental Manuscripts). 主持人: 波波娃 (俄羅斯藏科學院東方文獻研究所)
Individual papers: 20 min. Individual discussion: 5 min. Concluding discussion: 15 min.
                  發言時間: 二十分鐘. 論文討論: 五分鐘. 集中討論: 十五分鐘
Valerie Hansen (Yale University), Dunhuang in the World of the Year 1000. 韓森 (耶魯大學), 敦煌在公元一千年的世界的意義
高田時雄 (京都大學), 唐宋時代譯語人的一側面. Takata Tokio (Kyoto University), The Occupation of an Interpreter in Tang-Song Period in China
郑炳林俄玉楠 (兰州大学), 瓜沙地区疏勒河原名黑水考        . Zheng Binglin, E Yunan (Lanzhou University), Investigation of Shule River’s original name as Heishui in Gua and Sha area
12:45-2:15          Lunch*. Frist Multi-Purpose Room. 午餐
2:15-3:45             Panel 6: Cosmology and Religion第六組宇宙觀和宗教
主持人郝春文 (首都師範大學). Moderator: Hao Chunwen (Capital Normal University).
Individual papers: 20 min. Individual discussion: 5 min. Concluding discussion: 15 min.
                  發言時間: 二十分鐘. 論文討論: 五分鐘. 集中討論: 十五分鐘
Donald Harper (The University of Chicago), The Other Baize tu from Dunhuang and Tang Popular Culture. 夏德安 (芝加哥大學), 敦煌第二種《白澤圖》和唐代大衆文化
April D. Hughes (Gonzaga University), Chinese Visions of the End: An Examination of Three Dunhuang Scriptures. 尤春桃 (公撒格大學), 中國想像的世界末日:三部敦煌經文的研读
余欣 (復旦大學), 中古時代瑞應圖書的源流: 敦煌文獻與日本寫本的綜合考察. Yu Xin (Fudan University), The Origin and Development of Books on Ruiying (omen) in Medieval China: Integrated Studies on the Basis of Dunhuang and Japanese Manuscripts
4:15-5:15             Panel 7: Tibetan Manuscripts第七組藏文文書
主持人高田時雄 (京都大學). Moderator: Takata Tokio (Kyoto University)
Individual papers: 20 min. Individual discussion: 5 min. Concluding discussion: 15 min.
                  發言時間: 二十分鐘. 論文討論: 五分鐘. 集中討論: 十分鐘
Iwao Kazushi (Kobe City University of Foreign Studies), Official Seals of governments in the Old Tibetan Empire.岩尾一史 (神戶市外國語大學), 在新疆和敦煌古藏文文书中发现的古藏文官印(phyag rgya)
Alexander Zorin (Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, Russian Academy of Sciences), Fragments of Tibetan Texts Found at the Dunhuang Collection Kept at the IOM RAS: Eight Identified Fragments of Buddhist Canonical Texts. 亚历山大・佐林 (俄羅斯藏科學院東方文獻研究所), 俄罗斯科学院东方文献研究所敦煌藏品中发现的藏文文献残片研究: 以8份识别出的佛经残片为例
6:00-7:30             Dinner*.Palmer House. 晚餐

Monday, September 8 (9  8 )

8:15                          Breakfast*.Jones 203. 早餐
9:00-11:00          Panel 8: Paleography, Codicology, Digitization第八組古文字學文書形制數字化
Moderator: Imre Galambos (University of Cambridge). 主持人: 高奕睿 (劍橋大學)
Individual papers: 20 min. Individual discussion: 5 min. Concluding discussion: 20 min.
                  發言時間: 二十分鐘. 論文討論: 五分鐘. 集中討論: 二十分鐘.
Marcus Bingenheimer (Temple University), What should a High-end Digital Edition of Dunhuang Documents look like?Exploring best practices in the digital edition of Dunhuang texts. 馬德偉 (坦普爾大學), 高端敦煌文献数码化版本的样貌?——探索数码化敦煌文本的最佳方式
郝春文王曉燕(首都師範大學), 敦煌寫本中形近字同形手書舉例. Hao Chunwen and Wang Xiaoyan(Capital Normal University), A Study on different characters with similar graphic forms in Dunhuang manuscripts
Iwamoto Atsushi (Rissho University), Studies on the Seals of Private Owners Impressed on Dunhuang Manuscripts-focus on Japanese collection. 岩本篤志 (立正大學) , 敦煌文獻藏書印研究——以日本所藏品為中心
张涌泉 (浙江大学), 敦博本《注心经》抄写时间考. Zhang Yongquan (Zhejiang University), The Writing Time of the Annotation of the Heart Sūtra from Dunhuang Museum Collection
11:30-1:00          Rare Books Excursion.Mudd Library (foreign scholars only).善本書的參觀.
            Martin Heijdra (Princeton University).
1:00-2:30             Lunch*. Frist Multi-Purpose Room. 午餐
2:30-4:00             Panel 9: Buddhist Ritual第九組佛教儀禮
            主持人:鄭阿財 (南華大學). Moderator: Cheng A-tsai (Nan Hua University)
Individual papers: 20 min. Individual discussion: 5 min. Concluding discussion: 15 min.
                  發言時間: 二十分鐘. 論文討論: 五分鐘. 集中討論: 十五分鐘
Paul Copp (University of Chicago), Adaptation in the Construction of Ritual Vernaculars: Notes on Three Manuscripts.柏岗 (芝加哥大学), 文本改编与乡土仪式之创作: 初步研究
Stephen F. Teiser (Princeton University), Diction and Metaphor in Dunhuang Healing Liturgies. 太史文 (普林斯頓大學), 敦煌患文中的措辭和譬喻
王三慶 (國立成功大學), 敦煌文獻齋願文體的源流與結構. Wang San-ching (National Cheng Kung University), On study of the origin and structure of Zhai Yuan Wen style in Dun-Huang manuscripts
4:30-6:00             Concluding Keynote Lecture. McCormick 101.大會發言
            Moderator: Irina Popova (Institute of Oriental Manuscripts). 主持人: 波波娃 (俄羅斯藏科學院東方文獻研究所)
Susan Whitfield (British Library, International Dunhuang Project), Bringing Manuscripts to All: Digitisation, the Internet and the Internationalisation of Dunhuang Studies. 魏泓 (大英圖書館, 國際敦煌項目), 走近文書: 數字化, 互聯網絡, 和敦煌學的國際化
6:00-6:45             Reception*.McCormick Lobby. 晚宴
7:00-8:30             Dinner*. Presidential Dining Room, Prospect House. 晚餐

Tuesday, September 9 (9  9 )

7:00-11:30          Breakfast. Nassau Inn, Yankee Doodle Tap Room.早餐

Thursday, 21 August 2014

The Commerce between the Roman Empire and India

  • The Commerce between the Roman Empire and India

    Paperback – September 25, 2014

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (September 25, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1107432146

Originally published in 1928, this detailed book examines the beginnings, progress and substance of the trade between India and the Roman Empire from Augustus to Marcus Aurelius. Warmington presents this history from a western point of view, and uses a wide range of ancient literary sources to explore what goods were traded between the two regions and the mechanisms of that trade. This thoroughly researched book will be of value to anyone with an interest in ancient trade and connections between the Roman Empire and its neighbours.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Expedition Uncovers Secrets about Ancient Kangyui

SHYMKENT – The expedition of the Kazakhstan Central State Museum, led for two months on the Kultobe site by Professor Alexander Podushkin, Doctor of Historical Sciences, collected rich material about the ancient state of Kangyui (Kantszyuy) recently.
69179The archaeologists worked on the scientific programme “Archaeological and written records of the Kangyui state” that existed from the second century B.C. to the fourth century A.D. within the boundaries of the Arys and middle Syr Darya rivers between the Karatau and Karzhantau mountains.
The history of this state is still considered the most enigmatic and little-known. Even the slightest archaeological information is very valuable, because it allows researchers to gather information about those who lived there in ancient times and shed light on the early stages of ethno-genesis of the Kazakhs as a nation.
Podushkin is inclined to believe that the centre of the Kangyui state was in the Arys area. Moreover, the scientist feels the Karaspantobe settlement, located in close proximity to the ancient settlement and burial site of Kultobe, is the city of Bityan, which is mentioned in the Chinese written sources as the capital of the Kangyui state.
The Kultobe mound was discovered and initially explored in 1964 by the archaeological team of the Shymkent Pedagogical Institute under the direction of Nikolai Podushkin. Since 1991, his son has led excavations on the eastern group of mounds.
The settlement is located a kilometre from the village of Sary-aryk in the Ordabasy district. Here the archaeologists found more than 100 mounds. Each season brings dozens of archaeological artifacts – catacomb burials, pottery and a variety of jewelry and household items, which the scientists and historians can use to reconstruct the burial rites and lifestyle of our ancestors. Any finding, regardless of whether it is a ceramic jar or a precious ruby set in gold, is equally important for scientists.
This time, researchers also collected rich material about the life of the ancient state. For two months they excavated three burial constructions, two of which were collective tombs. All of them were catacomb-type family vaults traditional for this area.
It is a complex structure, which includes an underground chamber, a small hole and a corridor (dromos) where the burial procedure took place. All three uncovered catacombs demonstrated a certain level of social development. Historians were interested in the fact that one of the collective burials was at a depth of five metres. Its size, the method and depth of burial and more diverse set of artifacts indicated high social status of the deceased; the deeper catacombs and more powerful the mound over the grave, the higher their social status. The burial chambers fully preserved all the ceremonial paraphernalia and a few hundred artifacts, in particular beads, inlaid bracelets, knives, a fibula in the form of a crossbow, a lot of ceramics, a mirror, a bronze bell, gold jewelry and many other things related to the life of the people of that time.
“We have a very interesting cross-section, which shows the stage of development of the Kangyui society,” Podushkin commented on the results of the expedition. “For example, we are sure that it was multiethnic.
The single female burial clearly leads us to the Sarmatians of the northern Black Sea region. They used such bronze mirrors, inflicting ritual damage on them after the death of the owner. The Sarmatians used gold to decorate clothing, wearing bracelets on their arms and legs. This means that the area of living space of the Sarmatians at that time had already expanded to the current southern regions of Kazakhstan.”
In two collective graves, the archeologists also found remains of representatives of a settled population, which means that nomads and farmers lived and got along with each other.
After description and study, all artifacts will be passed to the Kazakhstan Central State Museum, which already has a special fund for Podushkin’s most significant findings.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

European man's remains found in ancient Chinese tomb (Tang Dynasty)

The remains of a human skull found in a 1,400-year-old tomb in China possibly belonged to a man of European origin, an initial investigation by scientists revealed on Sunday.
The skull was found in the M1401 tomb in Guyuan City in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

"The man had a protruding nasal bone and a sunk nasion, which are typical features of Europeans," said Zhang Quanchao, professor with the Research Center for Chinese Frontier Archaeology of Jilin University.
Zhang believes the skull belonged to a 40-year-old man of European origin.
Further excavation is needed for a firm conclusion, he said.
"If we can find his teeth and more bones, we will have a more precise judgement about his age," he said.

The tomb was first discovered in the 1980s. Illegal excavation was reported this year, and archaeologists began to unearth the tomb in June for protection.
More than 40 clay figures, copper coins and a number of murals were found in the tomb, according to Zhu Cunshi, head of the archaeological team.
Zhu said the tomb was built in the early Tang Dynasty (618-907).
Ningxia is along the ancient Silk Road that connected China with Europe through commerce.

Zoroastrian tombs in the Xinjiang region and the origin of this religion  12 August 2014                         For a video about this subject, click HERE
Zoroastrianism was the state religion of the ancient Persian Empire. Its founder, Zoroaster, or Zarathustra, is thought to have been born in what is now Northeast Iran or Southwest Afghanistan. A 2004 survey by the Zoroastrian Associations of North America put the estimated number of believers worldwide at between 124,000 and 190,000.
Now, archaeologists in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have discovered major Zoroastrian tombs, dated to over 2,500 years ago. This unravelling is leading to startling controversial speculation about the religion’s origin. 
Archaeologists in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have discovered major Zoroastrian tombs, dated to over 2,500 years ago.
Archaeologists in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have
discovered major Zoroastrian tombs, dated to over 2,500 years ago.
On China’s sparsely populated Pamir Plateau, ancient people lived and battled, and created a marvelous civilization. These massive tombs, now being excavated, are the world’s earliest traces of the religion of Zoroastrianism found so far.
Zoroastrianism took form even before the rise of Persian Empire, which later adopted it as the state religion. The sun and fire are central to the religion, and the signs are found everywhere in the tombs.
"This is a typical wooden brazier found in the tombs. Zoroastrians would bury a burning brazier with the dead to show their worship of fire. The culture is unique to Zoroastrianism."
Today, most of the ancient glories lie in ruins. But the dig now offers a glimpse of what life here looked like over 25 centuries ago.
"This polished stoneware found in the tombs is an eyebrow pencil used by ordinary ladies. It does not just show the sophistication of craftsmanship here over 2,500 years ago, but also demonstrates the ancestors’ pursuit of beauty, creativity and better life, not just survival. It shows this place used to be highly civilized."
This is the biggest excavation of the tombs of Zoroastrianism here in Xinjiang’s history. Some archaeologists say the excavation is likely to prove that this religion is originated from the Pamir Plateau, right here beneath of our feet.
"All the evidence leads to one conclusion: Zoroastrianism originated in the east on China’s Pamir Plateau. To this day, archaeologists are still arguing over where the religion originated, but here, we have found the earliest and the largest scale of Zoroastrian ruins, with all the typical symbols of this religion. Of course, there’s the possibility that there are other undiscovered ruins elsewhere in the world. But at this moment, it’s a logical conclusion that the origin of the religion is here, not in Persia." said Wu Xinhua, Xinjiang Director, Archaeological Inst., Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Logical, perhaps. Startling and controversial, certainly. And as the excavation continues, the Pamir Plateau is bound to yield more amazing discoveries.
Archaeologists in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have discovered major Zoroastrian tombs, dated to over 2,500 years ago.
Archaeologists in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have discovered
major Zoroastrian tombs, dated to over 2,500 years ago.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Reconstruction shows how ancient Scythian 'Princess' discovered in Kazakhstan looked like

Reconstruction shows how ancient Scythian 'Princess' discovered in Kazakhstan looked like
Western Kazakhstani archaeologists have finally displayed the exclusive artifacts found in the ancient burial discovered in 2012, Tengrinews reports citing Moi Gorod and West Kazakhstan Oblast Center for History and Archaeology.

The ancient burial containing remains of a noble woman was discovered in Terekty district in Western Kazakhstan Oblast two years ago and was declared the oldest "golden" burial at the territory of Kazakhstan.

Taksay-1, Mound 6, Female burial
This is one of the burials in the "golden series", meaning a mound containing golden fragments along with a skeleton. One such mound, discovered in south-eastern Kazakhstan in 1969, had warrior's equipment and assorted funerary goods that included 4,000 golden fragments and was dubbed the Golden Man.

Krym Altynbekov's recreation of the Golden Man. Photo courtesy of Krym Altynbekov
The archeological find made 2 years ago in West Kazakhstan contained the skeleton of a noble woman in the burial mound called Taksay-1. Next to the body there were all sorts of gold and silver vessels, makeup kits, remnants of richly decorated headdress and many pieces of golden jewelry. A horse bridle and household items that were believed to be necessary in the afterlife were also found.
The noble woman was covered with a blanket embroidered with golden plaques and there were more than 500 different golden fragments, which earned the woman her name - theGolden Woman or the Golden Princess.

The artifact of particular importance was a wooden comb depicting a battle scene in the war of the Saks against the Persians.

Prominent scientists and research centers of Japan, Germany and Russia were attracted to the uniqueness of the burial and studied the findings along with their Kazakhstani colleagues.
The latest breakthrough in the work allowed Murat Sdykov, head of West Kazakhstan Oblast Center for History and Archaeology, to identify the age of the burial. “The results of laboratory studies showed that the burial dates back to 4-5 centuries BC,” Sdykov said. The age of the woman was hard to identify due to heavy decomposition of bones. Nevertheless, it is clear that the burial is characteristic of Zoroastrianism. In addition, Sdykov informed that two female guards were buried along with the Golden Princess.

“The richness of the burial speaks about the status of the buried woman. It points that there were few rich people in that period and that the society was already stratified. There are two other kurgans [mounds] next to Taksay, which we will excavate next year. It is noteworthy that this mound had not been damaged or looted,” Sdykov said.

The burial mound was made around a wooden structure that sagged a long time ago. At some point tomb robbers attempted to raid the burial but, fortunately, failed to reach the burial chamber itself.

Reconstruction of the garment was entrusted to the famous restorer Krym Altynbekov. Thanks to his work, one can now see what Golden Princess might have looked like 2500 years ago. Gold plaques of four types were sewn on the upper part of the garment: differently shaped geometric pieces depicted ram griffins, rams, griffins and swastikas. Scientists call them solar, implying worship of the sun characteristic for the nomads of the time, which is also supported by the "Avesta", the core collection of sacred Zoroastrianism texts.

Full garment reconstruction made by Krym Altynbekov. Photo courtesy of Krym Altynbekov

Headdress. Photo courtesy of Krym Altynbekov

The pommel of the headdress. Photo courtesy of Krym Altynbekov

Temple pendants. Photo courtesy of Krym Altynbekov

Oval shaped plaques depicting two opposing ram-griffins. Photo courtesy of Krym Altynbekov

Square shaped plaques depicting two opposing heads of rams. Photo courtesy of Krym Altynbekov

Svastika shaped plaques depicting four griffin heads arranged in a circular composition. Photo courtesy of Krym Altynbekov

The sleeves of the garment were adorned with wolf fangs in gold rim. Photo courtesy of Krym Altynbekov

Gold beads of biconical shape. Photo courtesy of Krym Altynbekov

Golden bracelets. Photo courtesy of Krym Altynbekov

Mirror. Photo courtesy of Krym Altynbekov

Bronze cauldron. Photo courtesy of Krym Altynbekov

Brazier. Photo courtesy of Krym Altynbekov

The unique Taksay comb. Photo courtesy of Krym Altynbekov

Comb. Reconstruction of the plot by Krym Altynbekov. Photo courtesy of Krym Altynbekov
Composition depicting a battle scene between two soldiers in a chariot and their enemy, a single foot soldier, is inscribed in the rectangular space in the center of the crest/comb. The depiction is a relief, a realistic one.

Reconstruction of the comb by Krym Altynbekov. Photo courtesy of Krym Altynbekov

Golden Woman is one of the most astonishing archeological findings of the recent years. It sheds some light on the wealth and power of the ancient Scythians [Saks]. The Saka were a group of nomadic warrior tribes of Iranian origin, who inhabited the steppes of modern-day Kazakhstan in 1 thousand BC to first centuries AD.

By Dinara Urazova

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Ancient instrument found in Turkic warrior burial in Kazakhstan   10 August 2014
Ancient instrument found in Turkic warrior burial in Kazakhstan
At the site ©Press service of the Turkic Academy
Ancient instrument found in Turkic warrior burial in Kazakhstan
At the site ©Press service of the Turkic Academy
Ancient instrument found in Turkic warrior burial in Kazakhstan
At the site ©Press service of the Turkic Academy
For a video about this subject, click HERE
In a string of archeological discoveries, Kazakhstani scientists have now found what looks like an ancient musical instrument.

The discovery was made in Altai in East Kazakhstan Oblast, Tengrinews reports citing the press service of the Turkic Academy.

“The Kazakhstani scientists under the supervision of archaeologist Zeinolly Samashev, PhD in History, have found a burial of a Turkic warrior in Altai. The archaeologist suggests that the warrior lived in the 7th century AD. The scientists found weapons belonging to this epoch next to the warrior: a helmet, a quiver, an arrow, a sword, sabers, as well as a horse with a golden harness and a bridle. The most important discovery of the excavation was a musical instrument, similar to (Kazakh) kobyz,” the press service said.

The kobyz is an ancient Kazakh instrument that has two strings made of horsehair. It was believed to be a sacred instruments that could drive away evil spirits. It was often used by spiritual medics and shamans.
The human and horse bones are well preserved. Samashev believes the man held a high position. First examination led to the conclusion that the warrior was about 40 years old.

The exact age of the archaeological find will be determined later by the Turkic Academy. This burial was excavated under the auspices of the project “Statehood system of Western Turkic Khaganate”. Two types of musical instruments have been found in the area over the past year.
This year, another important Turkic warrior burial was discovered in Akmola Oblast in the end July. It belongs to around the same historical era.
And an even older site was excavated in South Kazakhstan Oblast this year. It contained remains of a noble woman and precious artefacts originating from the mysterious nation of Kangju.

By Dinara Urazova

For more information see:
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Thursday, 14 August 2014

China and Beyond in the Mediaeval Period: Cultural Crossings and Inter-Regional Connections


*This book is in the Cambria World Sinophone Series
(General editor: Victor H. Mair)
*Oversized and includes 157 images, many of which are in color.
This volume examines China’s contacts with neighboring cultures in Central, South, Southeast, and Northeast Asia, as well as contacts among those cultures from the beginning of the Common Era to the tenth century and beyond. During this period, transregional and crosscultural exchanges were fostered by both peaceful and aggressive activities and movements of peoples across Eurasia along land and maritime routes. Such movements played an important role in world history in the medieval period, and yet many aspects of cultural exchanges across Eurasia remain understudied. The lack of knowledge is particularly evident in treatments of Chinese history between the Han and Tang empires. Examining relations with neighboring cultures during this period calls into question notions of China as a monolithic cultural entity.
During the period covered in this volume, cultural contacts and exchanges were fostered by both peaceful and aggressive activities and movements of peoples along land and maritime routes of the so-called Silk Road. From the earliest recorded times, the Silk Road was a channel for the transmission of ideas, technologies, and artistic forms and styles across Eurasia, with far-reaching impact from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
Despite the centrality of exchange and hybridization to the history of medieval East Asia, many aspects of its connections beyond China cultures and history remain understudied. Similar, there is a lack of comprehensive knowledge of the period between the Han and Tang empires in Chinese history. In examining China’s relations with neighboring cultures during this period in particular, this book does not begin with the usual monolithic and stereotypical notion of China being an enduring and coherent cultural entity. Rather, through the close analysis presented in each chapter, this study expands the scope of inquiry to examine the mechanisms and contents of cultural exchanges, and the fertile byproducts of these exchanges.
Perhaps one of the most notable mediaeval phenomena that created shared cultural spheres across linguistic and political boundaries was the transmission of such religious faiths as Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Manichaenism and Nestorianism. Buddhism’s spread eastward from India to finally become a religion adopted in all of Asia had an especially significant impact on many countries. In this sense, the Eurasian interactions can be considered common to a medieval world interwoven by religion.
The twenty-one chapters reveal transmissions, transgressions, syntheses, accommodations, and transformations that occurred when peoples and cultures came into contact with one another. They explore the motivations for the movements of peoples and goods—trade, war, diplomacy, acquisition of culture and knowledge (and sometimes of talent), and evangelical Buddhism. They also analyze the impacts of these exchanges through study of the artefacts, concepts, technologies, and practices associated with these interactions from a multidisciplinary perspective.
The focused study of the individual authors, each from her or his disciplinary training (art history, cultural studies, history, literary studies, religious studies, history of science, etc.), sheds light on the crossing of boundaries of geographic, cultural, linguistic, and sometimes temporal distance. Whether it is Tang China, Yamato Japan, Viking Sweden, or Zoroastrian Central Asia, however, each chapter highlights the prominent place of cultural crossings as both inter-regional movements and the fertile products they produced.
Given that the expertise from a breadth of disciplines, this unique interdisciplinary book will enjoy an equally broad readership of students, teachers, and researchers engaged comparative approaches to the history and culture of Medieaval Eurasia at large.