Home History of Kazakhstan Ancient Kazakhstan Bronze Age Ancient miners, metallurgists and pot makers

Ancient miners, metallurgists and pot makers

   By studying minefields of Kazakhstan, geologists have found out that their exploitation works have been already conducting for three thousand years B.C. During the Bronze Age ore output and fusion was carrying out on a large scale. For instance, in Zhezkazgan district, about 100 thousand tonnes of copper were melted; in Uspensky rill 200 thousand tonnes of ores were extracted.

Ancient miners worked out the oxidized ores (malachite, azurite, cassiterite) with the high content of copper and tin. Ore-bearing lode was developed. Friable ores were extracted in a «hacking» way, by means of chipper and hammer stone. The miners used a method of «drifting of fire» in working out of dense rocks at which a campfire was lighted on the lode surface or on a bottom.  When the rock was heated up, it was watered forcing to burst. Then they worked with the means of hammers and poll-picks. Rock containing metal was pulled out on a surface in leather sacks.

Also underminings were used under an ore body whereupon pieces of ore cornice were fallen by hammers. Wooden gabions were used on adit driving. The miners dollied and panned out ore (by separating it from dead rock)which was mined close to the waters near a pit. Fine-crushed ore was carried on settlements, where it was melted on the special smelting furnaces. Furnace remains were found out at excavations of settlements of Atasu, Suuk-Bulak, Kanaj village.

The rests of foundry works had been found in settlements: Malo-krasnojarsk, Alekseyevka, Nikolsky, Petrovka II. Apart from casting Andronovo people knew forging, stampings and impression methods. Temporal rings, suspension brackets, bracelets with helical juts were made of bronze wrapped up by a gold foil.The gold temporal pendant with two-horse image was found in burial ground near to the Kopal village by Zhetysu.

 It serves as a superb model in a jeweller's art. If ancient farmers of India, Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia had professionals (standing out among other artificers in a potter's wheel) who made tablewars during the Bronze Age, in Kazakhstan steppes and foothills every family did it by itself. Women made clay, moulded from it pots and burnt on a fire or in the holes edged with a stone.

In the Early Bronze Age of XVII-XVI centuries B.C., vessels were manufactured by means of a pig (strickle) fitted with fabric and interlaced from horsehair, or from thick woolen threads, had the can form, a flat bottom. They were decorated with drawn, or the geometrical patterns put by a comb. Some pots were decorated with sticked platens and knobs. The ornament on vessels was not only an adornment. It had a magic character, turning away contents of vessels the evil eye, damage and symbolised also wealth, abundance of a contained pot.

In the period of the Middle Bronze Age (XV-XIII centuries B.C.), the vessels for the most part differed with its standardization and perfection. They were more thin-walled, refined. The tableware was made by means of a pig or a method of ring stucco moulding. Firstly a bottom was made, and then rings of torso, sides and collar were attached to it. With such technics an edge-ledge was formed on a transition place of torso to collar, which was the characteristic feature of Andronovo culture during the Middle Bronze Age.

Ornament, as before, was drawn, or put by a stamp (the triangles filled with strokes, meanders). Unlike early pots, the ornament was located by three strips, zones. Researchers noted one more technique of manufacturing of vessels at which the pot was firstly moulded, and then from below a flat bottom was put to it. They were decorated with stucco moulding by rollers, convex - "pearls" and knobs. The ornament decorating vessels of the Andronovo people, remained many hundreds years.  Its distinct elements could be seen on theornament of Kazakh applied art.

House crafts.

Andronovo family did everything necessary to life. They spun, wove, dressed, sewed clothes and footwears by embroidering patterns from coloured fibers and decorating with tabs and beads. Fibers for a fabric were spun from wool and fluff. Hemp, toadflax and nettle were used. A weaving loom and a spindle were already known. To all finding appearances, in burials, the Andronovo people wore leather shoes without heels sewed of animal sinews. Men and women wore woollen and leather caps with ear flaps. Clothes were made of woollen fabrics, clasping on bone buttons. The clothes of a woman consisted from a long, knee-lower, woollen dress with long sleeves. Sleeve cuffs were beautified with bronze beads. From the front view a skirt was embroidered by strips of white beads. A slit round the neckof a cloth was decorated by glass beads.  Round pendants were sewedon a breast. Fabrics were tinctured with bright red and violet colours.

Women wore bronze and in the form of the rings earrings fitted by sheet gold. The neck was decorated by bronze grivnas, sometimes with the round gold ringlets put on them. There were bracelets and ringson hands. Women and men wore also fangs of wild animals, shells brought from the coast of distant seas as amulets to protect from evil forces.

 The men were armed by onions and arrows with bronze tips of leaf-like forms. They used spears with bronze tips, bronze axes, daggers and stone macesat close combats.

Settlements, cities and dwellings.

Archeologists had found out the ten of settlements belonging to the Bronze Age. On many of them, there were carried out excavations providing with a view of dwellings of this period.

In the XVII-XVI centuries in a steppe and forest-steppe zone from Ural Mountains to Irtysh, there existed settlements, rectangular and round, which were surrounded with defensive works - walls with wooden paling and ditches, turrets and complex preliminary constructions. Reinforced settlements had areas of 6 to 30 thousand sq. m. The Settlement Arkaim, which was considered to be an ancient town, looked as a roundish site on the plan, fenced with two concentric rings of the defensive works. Between them there was an inhabited part, and the internal circle occupied the area. The external circle had the diameter of 160 m. The external wall, with its base width about 4 m, had been brought down from the ground with a touch of lime. From the outer side, it was revetted by blocks of clay which kept within from ditch-ground surrounding a wall outside. The depth of a ditch - 1,5-2 m, the wall height - 2,5-3 m. On a wall crest there were two parallel lines of paling from logs and he space between them was hammered by caespitose layers.

 The shorter sides, densely attached to each other, were joined the walls on the inside.  Exits were leading out to the circular street which went round the internal walls and a ditch. The ditch was paneled (with wood). The internal wall had the same design, as well as the external one. The dwellings, radially situated, were joined to the second wall on the inside with an exit from each one to the central square. Four collars of the town took out to the west, the northwest, the east, southeast. The west entry was the central one. In modern topography, it represents a rupture of a wall. The complex design of additional strengthening led to the central street «knee-figurative». Each input was lined with radial streets crossing settlement and converging on a central square in the size of 25 х 25 m. Rectangular dwellings of Arkaim had the area of 190 to 300 sq. m. Their walls represented complex constructions from two numbers of the columns sheathed by executioner's blocks (the space between them was hammered by the ground). Four or six lines of partitions divided the dwelling area into living rooms and household compartments with cellars and wells.

In general, types of settlements like Arkaim, and also rectangular in respect of settlements Petrovka, Nikolsky, had characteristic features that owned merely early cities: the developed system of fortifications (strengthening); presence of the strict plan or even a breadboard model on which the settlement was under construction; territory division into some zones - inhabited, industrial, public (in each of them the habitation, manufacture, departure of cult ceremonies, or carrying out of public meetings were concentrated).

That settlements carried out a role of city centers testified also that they supplied settlement and nearby settlements with metal products, ceramics. The numerous stratums of handicraftsmen were activity there. Burials of smiths and metallurgists, hammers, anvils and other toolkit did prove it. In a number of burials maces - power signs - and the rests of fighting chariots were found. These things underlined high position of owners in a society. Near to cities there were temple complexes. Distribution of the stone sculpture representing ancient gods concerned to this time. They were stored in hiding places and brought in temples only during religious festivals.

 Clay circles with signs pushed on it had been foundon settlements. The last ones, apparently, were regarded to the beginning of their transformation into script and it characterized a high level of society development. The flowering of culture during the Early Bronze Age became possible due to the cultural and economic contacts with Mediterranean and Asia Minor cultures. Probably, rudiments of the Great silk way had already started to develop at that time.

During the Middle Bronze Age, Andronovo settlements did not become to strengthenany more with walls and ditches. The situation in steppeseemed to be quiet. The topography of settlements had been changed. It represented a congestion of several (from 10 to 20) the separate houses as a rule located one or two lines along the river. The house had changed also. Now it became a semidugout with the area of 200-300 sq. m. Foundation ditches for dwelling were dug by stone, horn, or bronze mattocks, picks which traces remained on walls excavated by archaeologist of dwellings. Depth of foundation ditches fluctuated from 0,6 to 1,5 m. The taken out ground stacked along edge, providing thereby protection of habitation from a moisture and the strong steppe winds usually "blowing" from the house warm. In designsthe wood was widely used for strengthening of walls, support of beams and rafter ceilings. The roof was arranged with two sloping surfaces. In steppe and mountain places the flagstonewas used to serve for incrustation of walls.

During the Late Bronze Age BC in XII-IX centuries, in the Central Kazakhstan multiroom houses combined from massive stone blocks were built strictly according to the plan. Such houses were dug out by the area of 500 sq. m  and more on settlements Buguly, Akbaur. These were the biggest dwellings in the Euroasian steppes during the Bronze Age.

One of the dwelling parts was lower. Probably, it was used for the maintenance of cattle in winter. Sometimes two dwellings were joined corridors and formed a uniform housing estate. Drawn within many centuries the type of Andronovo house had been ideally adapted for conditions of steppe and mountain areas of house.

People, society, customs.

 Studying of settlements and burial grounds of the Bronze Age, lookout over a life of the people who were approximately on the identical development stage, and also comparison of the Andronovo people with the concrete people, ethnos allowed to retrieve their vital customs.

 As it was already mentioned, the Andronovo people lived in big houses with large family units while they lived together and kept common housekeeping of some generations of relatives. It was not evidently if there was appreciable social and essential inequality by findings of settlement materials.  However, researches of cemeteries allowed toestablish a difference in degree of riches and position of a person in the society.

During the Early Bronze Age in lump of burial places, large burials were notable from others with  mask and depth of a tomb, complex wooden designs, a considerable quantity of the pots put in a tomb with food. The rests of chariots and burial places of horses were found in the same tombs, and at buried - bronze knifes, bronze and stone tips of arrows, stone maces.

The same picture was traced during the Middle and Late Bronze Ages. In burial grounds, grandiose barrows in diameter to 4 m and height to 5 m or the constructions enclosed double or even with a threefold ring of fencing from monumental plates were allocated among ordinary burial places some. Under such barrows tombs in the size 3,2 х 2,5 and with 2,3 m. depp were suited. Their walls were put by fellings of logs. On the surface it was blocked by layer, sometimes with the double one. The majority of tombs was plundered in the ancient time, but due to the remained ones, it was obviously that together with the dead person, they put a considerable quantity of specially hammered animals, gold ornaments, bronze knifes, maces, harness, sets of tips of arrows in a tomb.

  Judging by the big difference in the device of barrows and tombs, to the things placedthere, the Andronovo society was not homogeneous. Notable and wealthy people had exclusive positions. After their death, for merits to the society, relatives brought the dead person to his special, distinct grave, without reckoning with expenses and work. Presence in a number of such burial places of the rests of chariots allowed to draw a conclusion that they belonged to the soldiers allocated in a separate group. It is possible to tell with confidence that in rich Andronovo burials were buried soldiers, who were distinguished in the special group of the society.

Hence, at an early stage of the Andronovo people history, there was a stratification of the society from weight of its ordinary members "tsars" - governors and soldiers – Kshatriya who were notable. Their wives, members of a family took exclusive positions in the society. Probably, they had rich burial places with gold products.

 In sources it is told about one estate - priests. The wooden bowl and a special cap were their distinctive signs. They were masters of not only cult ceremonies, but also keepers of ancient traditions and knowledge.

Institute of History and Ethnology named after Ch. Valikhanov, Committe on Science, Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 2013


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