Thursday, 16 February 2017

Tara (Siberia), a key historic staging post to the East.

Charred turnip dinner from 400 years ago throws new light on conquest of Siberia

By The Siberian Times reporter
14 February 2017
Intriguing finds from archeological excavations in old garrison town of Tara, a key historic staging post to the east.
'It looks like a huge puzzle of Siberian city life at this time, which we have just started to gather.' Picture: Maria Chernaya
The turnip, pictured here, was ready for cooking in a large clay pot when the log house caught fire and was quickly destroyed in flames, say archeologists.
Yet the meal was preserved, and nearby in an excavation of historical importance concerning Siberia's development were found pieces of Venetian glassware, along with the remains of women's knitted stockings and footwear.
Tara - in Omsk region - is significant because it was one of the earliest settlements by Russians as they went eastward, founded in 1594 by Prince Andrey Eletsky. 
Pot with turnip

Turnip
Big clay pot ('korchaga'), rounded with red, was standing next to the stove. Pieces of turnip. Pictures: Sergey Tataurov
The remains of the turnip dinner come from around this time, and the archeological explorations now underway represent the chance to understand the early pioneers, among them political and also criminal exiles, who began the modern development of Siberia. 
Professor Maria Chernaya said: 'One of the interesting finds of this season was indeed the turnip. We were excavating a big log house (izba), which burned down in the past and was left exactly as it was. 
Excavations in the log house

Log house
'The thickness of the cultural layer is 3 - 4 metres and it is very rich in finds (which) belong to the 16th to 18th centuries.' Pictures: Maria Chernaya
'The fire was quite big. Near the stove was a big clay pot, called 'korchaga' in Russian. It was used not for cooking, but for storing food. So there was a turnip, and it was standing near the stove. When the fire began, the temperature was so high that the turnip 'baked' inside this pot. 
'When we started to excavate the pot, we saw that something was inside. Sadly the picture doesn't portray this. The vegetable was very fragile, but we saw that it had kept the shape of a turnip. 
Professor Maria Chernaya
Professor Maria Chernaya (right) at the excavation of Tara. Picture: Maria Chernaya
'Of course when we tried to take it from the pot, it lost its shape. Yet we managed to do the analysis and confirmed it was a turnip. But also we found out that the turnip had been kept from autumn, for several months, so it was part of the winter stocks. This means the house burned down in winter or spring.'
It seems surprising that so much can be learned from a charred turnip around 400 years old.
Venetian glass
Pieces of glassware, which was made by Venetian technology somewhere in Germany or the modern Czech Republic. Picture: Sergey Tataurov
But it is one of many intriguing finds, with more expected, said Professor Chernaya,  head of the Laboratory of archaeological and ethnographical research in Western Siberia at Tomsk State University.
'Among other interesting finds are pieces of glassware, which was made by Venetian technology somewhere in Germany or the modern Czech Republic, and then exported to Russia. 
'This shows that Tara was not some remote province. Tara was a military town, and for a long time it was standing on the border with steppe, protecting the territories occupied by Russians.
Vallet

Pot wrapped in birch bark
Leather wallet. Clay pot wrapped in the birch bark. Pictures: Maria Chernaya
'That is why the largest part of the population of the city was military people. Of course they also had households, were involved in agriculture, crafts, hunting and trading.'The development of Tara was earlier than any modern Siberian city. 
'Their households were very strong,' she said. 'Judging by the finds, they had quite good houses. They (possessed) expensive imported things. The common economic level in the city was higher than in most central Russian towns.'
The people here were not serfs, she said. 
Women stockings
Remains of women's knitted stockings. Picture: Sergey Tataurov
'The percentage of exiles was not higher than 10, so we cannot say that the main part of Russians in Siberia were criminals,' according to her.
'Besides, many of the exiles were not criminals actually. They were political exiles, educated people, many of them also remained in Siberia. Russians came not to conquer Siberia, they came to develop it and stay here forever.
'This summer we uncovered a log construction. We suppose that these were the fortifications - a wall and tower. We will continue the research and if we are right we can finally make the plan of (old Tara) city and tie it to the area.' 
Tara - old picture

Modern Tara

Map
Tara - in Omsk region - is significant because it was one of the earliest settlements by Russians as they went eastward, founded in 1594 by Prince Andrey Eletsky. Pictures: Tomsk State University, Omsk Photo, The Siberian Times
She said: 'These are pioneering works for city archaeology in Siberia. 
'The scale of excavations is very big. The thickness of the cultural layer is 3 - 4 metres and it is very rich in finds (which) belong to the 16th to 18th centuries. It looks like a huge puzzle of Siberian city life at this time, which we have just started to gather.' 
The laboratory of archaeological and ethnographical research in Western Siberia joins scientists from Tomsk State University, Omsk State University, and the Omsk department of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences (headed by Dr Sergey Tataurov). 
First map of Tara made by Semyon Remezov and published in 1700. Picture: Chronologia.org
Old map of Tara

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Ancient Tomb of Chinese General and Princess Filled with Figurines


by Owen Jarus 
Ancient Tomb of Chinese General and Princess Filled with Figurines
The remains of a couple were found 1,500 years after being buried in China.
Credit: Photo courtesy Chinese Cultural Relics

The tomb of a general and his princess wife buried on March 18, in the year 564, has been discovered in China.
The ancient tomb, which contained the couple's skeletons, was also filled with figurines, said the archaeologists who described the findings recently in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics.
"The grave goods in this tomb are comprised of a total of 105 items, mostly pottery figurines," the archaeologists wrote. The figurines, whose colors are preserved, include representations of warriors, camels, oxcarts and drummers, with the tallest standing at about 22 inches (56 centimeters). [See Photos of the Ancient Tomb and Figurines]

A sandstone inscription found in the tomb describes the life of the couple Zhao Xin and his wife, Princess Neé Liu. The inscription says (in translation), "On the 20th day of the second moon of the third year of the Heqing period [a date researchers said corresponds to March 18, 564], they were buried together."

Archaeologists say that 105 items were discovered in the tomb and that most of them were figurines.
Archaeologists say that 105 items were discovered in the tomb and that most of them were figurines.
Credit: Photo courtesy Chinese Cultural Relics 

Zhao Xin served the rulers of the Northern Qi dynasty, which controlled part of northern China from 550 to 577. He held posts as a general and at times a governor in different areas of China, the inscription said.
At his final post, Zhao Xin served as the general of a garrison of soldiers at a place called Huangniu Town and led the garrison to victory in battle. "A thousand men lost their souls; he disposed of the Yi barbarians and exterminated the enemy, and the public flocked to him," the translated inscription says.
Of Princess Neé Liu, the inscription says that "by nature, she was modest and humble, and sincerity and filial piety were her roots. Her accommodating nature was clear, her behavior respectful and chaste."
Zhao Xin died at the age of 67 while still general of the garrison, according to the inscription, which does not indicate why he and his wife were buried at the same time. A detailed analysis of the bones hasn't been published yet.
Archaeologists said in the journal article that the tomb is located near modern-day Taiyuan city on the "eastern foothills of the Xishan Mountains, on the west bank of the Fenhe River."
The mountain location could have had some symbolic value, because the inscription also says, "If the mountain peak's roots are firm, it can contend in height with Heaven and Earth; deep and brilliant, solid and bright, it speeds far away along with the Sun and Moon; civil and martial seek each other, and so men are naturally there…"
The cemetery was excavated by archaeologists between August 2012 and June 2013. The archaeologists are from the Shanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, Shanxi University's School of History and Culture, Taiyuan Municipal Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, and the Agency of Cultural Relics and Tourism of Jinyuan District, Taiyuan city.
An article describing the discovery was published, in Chinese, in the journal Wenwu, in 2015. The article was recently translated into English and published in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics. In the journal article, the archaeologists also discussed the other tombs they found in the cemetery, noting that they excavated 69 tombs in total.





  


Friday, 3 February 2017

Arabian horses appear on 2,000-year-old cliff paintings in North China



Source: Xinhua   2017-01-03
HOHHOT, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- Chinese and German archeologists have found images of what they believe to be Arabian horses on cliff paintings dating back 2,000 years in the Yinshan Mountains of north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
Wu Jiacai, director of the North China Institute of Cliff Paintings, said that images of Arabian horses have been found in a dozen cliff paintings, which also contain images of other animals and humans. Those in Yinshan are believed to be the earliest found to date.
The horses are depicted in the paintings wearing armor, leather saddles and stirrups.
The pictures were painted around 210 B.C., when the nomadic Huns were at war with the Donghu, a nomadic tribe from north China.
Over 10,000 ancient cliff paintings have been found in the Yinshan Mountains.
Experts said the pictures suggest that Huns had trade links with people in western Asia and northern Africa at that time.
Earlier archeological excavations in Erdos, Inner Mongolia, unearthed bronze and pottery figurines of Arabian horses.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Lots of recent and old photo's from an Pazyryk culture find from 1949 from the Hermitage

From: The Siberian Times 

             31 January 2017
Mummified potentate and wife were found in burial mound 42 metres in diameter, and they went to the next life alongside 9 geldings, saddled and harnessed.
Tattooed owners of the world's oldest carpets get health check after 2,200 years. Picture: Dmitry Koshcheev
New technology has been used to obtain the secrets of two ancient mummy's excavated from their graves in the Altai Mountains in 1949. 
The pair are seen as a local chieftain from the Pazyryk culture and his wife or concubine who was incarcerated alongside him, evidently with cannabis burning in the burial chamber.
Their remains - preserved because they were encased in ice for thousands of millennia in the valley of the River Bolshoy Ulagan - are held in the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.
Computer tomography
This scan is the first of its kind for the world famous Hermitage. Picture: The State Hermitage Museum
Now the body of the curly-haired male, between 55 and 60 when he died, and the woman, some ten years younger, have been scanned to create tomograph images using a Siemens SOMATOM Emotion in 16 separate modes.
Multi-disciplinary analysis will be undertaken including radiologists, biological anthropologists, archaeologists and other scientists, with the results announced later. 
This scan is the first of its kind for the world famous Hermitage. The aim is to establish the cause of death, and reconstruct the appearance of the ancient pair, and to study the techniques of mummification in more detail.
Map

Burial mounds

Excavations

Excavations
Their remains were preserved because they were encased in ice for thousands of millennia in the valley of the River Bolshoy Ulagan, Altai Mountains. Pictures: The Siberian Times, StanRadar, Sergey Rudenko
Most of the treasures of the grave were robbed in prehistoric times, but famously two carpets remained - which are the oldest in the world. They contain remarkable images - shown in these striking pictures - of life in the Pazyryk era in Siberia. 
Inside the vast mound was a wooden burial chamber covered with logs. In the larch sarcophagus lay the two bodies, on which are intriguing tattoos.
Soviet archeologist Sergey Rudenko - who led the excavation - wrote after his discovery: 'Both the man and woman were of Caucasoid type.
Hermitage exhibition

Male mummy

Larch sarcophagus

Chariot
Exhibition with the findings from the burial mound in Hermitage. Male body. Larch sarcophagus. Cahriot. Pictures: KunstWerk, Dmitry Koshcheev, The State Hermitage Museum
'Their hair was soft, the man's a little curly and dark. The woman's dark brown. Their faces were long and narrow, the man had a sharply protruding aquiline nose.
'The man's head, except for the back, was shaved. The woman's head was also shaved, except that on top was a pigtail. 
'Both bodies were mummified, using the same method. The skulls were trepanned and the brain was removed. Through a slice in the abdomen, from the ribs to the groin, the intestines were removed. 
Felt carpet

GoddessWarrior
Felt carpet was decorated with multi-colour applique including sewn figures more than 1 metre in height, carved from fine coloured felt. Pictures: Dmitry Koshcheev, The State Hermitage Museum
'In addition, through special sections of the chest, back, arms and legs were removed all the muscles of the body, so that remaining was only the skeleton and skin.'
The burial ritual then involved restoring the shape of the human form by stuffing the remains with horsehair. The cuts in the skin were also sewn with horsehair.
Archeologists found traces of an incense burner, sheep and goat skins, and shards of pots. 
Carpet

Carpet
The world earliest pile-woven carpet. Pictures: The State Hermitage Museum
Guarding the burial chamber were nine horses - all geldings - with saddles and complete harnesses, decorated with wooden figurines of griffins, a lion or tiger, a saiga antelope, deer and felt. 
Undisturbed lay two precious carpets, the most ancient ever found. One was made of felt - some 4.5 by 6.5 metres in size, probably originally a wall hanging. 
It was decorated with multi-colour applique including sewn figures more than 1 metre in height, carved from fine coloured felt. The central scene shows a rider approach a throne on which is seated a goddess with a flowering branch in her hand.
Male tattoo

Male tattoo

Male tattoo

Male tattoo

Male tattoo
Male tattoos: feline predator on the right shoulder, images of birds on his hands and ungulates on the leg. Pictures: Lyudmila Barkova
The other is the world earliest pile-woven carpet, some 183 by 200 centimetres in size. It is seen as having Iranian influence. Radiocarbon testing indicates it was  woven in the 5th century BC.
Another precious find was a disassembled wooden chariot with large wheels, presumably used in the funeral rite. 
The tattoos - with the images shown here - depict on the man's left shoulder a feline predator, probably a tiger, and on the right shoulder - a horse. On the forearm of the right hand is an Asiatic wild ass or horse and some predator with a striped tail. These figures cannot be seen in full because of the skin folds.
On his hands are images of birds, including a grouse of capercaillie. On the man's legs, below the knee, are tattooed groups of ungulates.
Female tattoo

Female tattoo
On woman's left forearm is a complicated - and unusual for this culture - scene with two tigers and a snow leopard attacking deer and moose. Pictures: Lyudmila Barkova
The images depict only real animals, seen as unusual for Pazyryk remains, when often fantastical creatures have been found in tattoos.
The woman has no tattoos on her shoulders, but many on her forearms. On her left arm is a predatory bird, killing a  deer or moose. On her hand is a cock: she, too, only had real animals depicted on her skin.
On her left forearm is a complicated - and unusual for this culture - scene with two tigers and a snow leopard attacking deer and moose. Some experts believe the images indicate a Chinese influence.