Archeology and History of the Silk Road

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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.

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