Home History of Kazakhstan Ancient Kazakhstan Bronze Age Ancient farmers and shepherds

Ancient farmers and shepherds

29 July 2013

Ancient farmers and shepherds

Time of cultural cereals’ removal is defined by scientists at VIII—VII millennium BC, and most likely it was in mountain regions of Asia Minor. In the VI—V millennium BC agriculture extended in Central Asia, firstly in the south of Turkmenistan, in Kopet-Dag's foothills. Agriculture came to the mountain and steppe regions of Kazakhstan at bronze era at the end of the III millennium AD.

Agriculture arose together with cattle breeding. Scientists argued for a long time what arose earlier — agriculture or cattle breeding. Now it is clear that a human mastered both of them at the same time. Agriculture developed on fertile areas with sufficient wateramounts. The cattle breeding developed in droughty areas and marginal lands. At fertile land cattle breeding combined with agriculture.

Bronze was invented at the boundary of the first or second quarter of the II millennium BC in the Eurasian steppes. Ancient people could make metal products more solid by tin addition in copper. People learned to cast axes and a spear from bronze.

The tribes living in the territory of Kazakhstan during bronze age left archaeological monuments (settlements, burial grounds, mines, rock paintings) which belong to andronovo archaeological culture (the name is given in a place of the first burial ground - the village Andronovo, near the city of Achinsk in Southern Siberia). The excavation was carried out here in 1913 by B. V. Andrianov. In 1927 archeologist M. P. Gryaznov found similar burials in the Western Kazakhstan and established that monuments of andronovo culture were spread out on the extensive territory — from Minusinsk in the east to Ural in the West. Later andronovo monuments were found in the south of Kazakhstan, Semirechye and Central Asia.

One of difficult questions in andronovo culture studying is connected with chronology, time frame definition. The majority of researchers divide time of andronovo culture existence for three periods: early bronze — the XVIII—XVI centuries BC; average — the XV—XII centuries BC; the late — XII — the beginning of the VIII centuries BC. These periods received names according to the the first surveyed monuments and named as fedorovskii, alakulskii, zamarayevskii. It was considered that they reflect different stages of andronovo culture development. But it became clear that fedorovskii monument are dated time not early but average bronze, and the harmonious picture of andronovo culture development was broken. It was succeeded to define that fedorovsky monuments break up on early and late. The first group belongs to the XV—XIV centuries, and the second by XIII—XII centuries BC. If early monuments were found in the Central Kazakhstan and in the Urals, late — in very wide territory: in Western Siberia, in the South and the southeast of Kazakhstan, in Central Asia. Probably Kazakhstan was the center of fedorovsky tribes moving; they were forced out by alakulets tribes which came in Central Kazakhkstan from some western center.

Thus, alakulsky and fedorovsky tribes existed at the same time, and as a result of their interaction there are monuments of the mixed type. In Semirechye monuments of "semirechensky type" are formed, in the West — "kozhumberdinsky type". Andronovo culture wasn't monolithic: it reflects the nature of once living tribes’ culture; therefore it is accepted to speak about the andronovo cultural community uniting a number of close cultures.

Tribes of the Central Kazakhstan. The Central Kazakhstan was one of the main regions of tribes’ distribution which were a part of an andronovo community. More than 30 settlements and 150 burial grounds, also ancient mines, sacrificial places and rock paintings — the petroglyphs are found and surveyed here. For Central Kazakhstani andronovo culture the monumentalism and complexity of tombestone constructions, the high construction equipment connected with processing of a stone is characteristic.

The early stage — nurinsky — is characterized by prevalence in a funeral ceremony of cremation. The burials made on a ceremony of a corpse’s position met there. Small sized burial grounds consist of earth embankments which are rounded by rectangular or round constructed from stone plates fences. The grave representing a soil rectangular hole, which edges are imposed with tiles (tsist), or a stone box was in the fence. After burial the holes were blocked on top by plates.

The ceramics is presented by decorated with an ornament pots, consisting of combinations of triangles, meanders and parallel pressure. Only the top part of vessels was decorated. Bronze round mirrors, bronze beads are found. In burials pets’ bones are found by poison.

At the next stage — atasuysky — broad development of the territory, including semidesertic areas is observed. In numerous ore developments indicated that the scales of mining operations sharply increased. The most known and studied burial grounds of this period are Bylkyldak, Karasay, Temir-Astau, Karabiye, Elshibek, Belyasar. The big group of burial grounds and settlements is found in a valley of river Atas. The holes, boxes and cysts were found in funeral fencings. A corpse’s writhed on one side position became prevailing  here.

Settlements have a peculiar planning: dwellings, at amount from 10 to 80, settle down around and in which center the shelter for cattle was constructed. One of well studied settlements Atasa had the area of 15000 sq.m and consisted of 35 dugouts and economic constructions. During the excavations a large number of bronze tools, weapons, and decorations are found on settlements and burial grounds.

In Central Kazakhstan the late stage of bronze is marked by formation of new culture — begazy-dandybayevsky. It is typical of it the preservation of andronovo culture traditions in one hand, and the emergence of new elements such as special type of gravestone constructions, peculiar funeral ceremony, and new forms of pottery on another. Along with the corpse’s writhed positions there were found positions extended on the back. Aksu-Ayula's II burial ground belongs to an early stage of this culture located to the south of Karakganda. The biggest barrow has the height of 2m and diameter of 30 m. Under an earth embankment there were three radially stone fencings located by rings.

At this time land dwellings constructed from stone walls are spread. In the settlement Tagibay-Bulak six rectangular land dwellings are revealed. Walls of houses are made of ranks of the plates in parallel driven in the earth the space between which is filled with small stones mixed up with the earth. In mountain regions of the Central Kazakhstan in dwellings construction the wood was widely used. Dugouts’ walls were sheathed by wood executioner's blocks, and the overlapping leaned on system of wooden columns.

The huge role in cultural development played metal production and smelting. Central Kazakhstani stone-metallic center had impact on culture of the neighboring areas — Altai, Siberia, Zauralye.

In Northern and Western Kazakhstan numerous andronovo monuments are opened and surveyed, widely known of them is settlement named Alekseevsky and a burial ground called Tasty-Butak.

The burial grounds consisting of barrows with earth embankments, round and rectangular fences are characteristic for a forest-steppe zone. Ring-shaped stone fencings and barrows are widespread in the western areas. Totally more than 80 settlements and about 90 burial grounds are opened in this area.

Soil burials with cremation ceremony belong to the period of early bronze. At excavation of the the village’s named Vishnevsk settlement located near Petropavlovsk city the rectangular land dwelling of 126 sq.m which wooden overlapping leaned on wooden racks logs was opened. At the same time the settlements that can be considered as predecessors (prototypes) of the ancient cities appeared. One of them — Arkaim — located on the border of the Chelyabinsk and Kustanay areas.

In the period of average bronze the construction of houses, the organization of settlements, the device of burials, funeral ceremonies considerably changed. Settlements weren’t become stronger any more, elongated and squared dwellings semi-dugouts, from 140 to 200 sq.m divided in two parts; from one to eight centers on the floor. Such dwellings were opened on settlements called Yavlenka and Tasty-Butak.

During late Bronze Age north Kazakhstani tribes were strongly influenced by culture of Aral Sea and river Volga regions, and also West Kazakhstan at the first stage. On late Bronze Age settlements semi-dugouts in rectangular, oval and eight figure shape were prevailed. Huge dugouts were extended up to 300 — 400 sq.m where cattle were kept in the winter. In economy the cattle breeding and especially horse breeding role were increased.

In East Kazakhstan development of andronovo culture went in the same ways. tens settlements and burial grounds of bronze age were found in rich with herbage valleys of Irtysh, Bukhtarma, Kurchum, in the mountain regions of Altai, steppe areas Tarbagataya and Saura, The richest copper, tin, gold minefields had impact on the development  and construction of that settlements.

The majority of disposals from the burial, named as Cana, and the nearby settlement disposals belong to the period of late bronze. The semi-dugout with a squared area of 50 sq.m and economic constructions were unearthed on the settlement on the right coast of Irtysh. The walls of the house were imposed with a

The southern Kazakhstan and Semirechye had been already mastered and "densely" populated at Bronze Age. There was a peculiar (semirechensky) variant of andronovo culture in Semirechye. The largest gathering of rock paintings of Tamgala are found in Semirechye , the south of Kazakhstan and  Karatau.

The mixture of fekdorovsky and alakulsky culture tribes’ elements tribes is characteristic for Semirechya. Graves in the rectangular form and round fencings are characteristic for fedorovsky traditions. Soil graves and boxes, and fellings in mountain areas are combined with the corpse’s position and the cremation ceremony.

At the Semirechya region average bronze is presented by Tamgakla and Karakuduk's burial.

In the south of  Kazakhstan, in Karatau, Tautara's burial ground is dug out.

Unique monuments of Bronze Age — mausoleums Tegiskena are opened in lower reaches of Syr-Darya, in Priaralye. Tegisken's earliest mausoleums are built from mudbrick, the base of the planning is the circle entered in a square of external walls. Inside it, roundly stand 8 or 12 rectangular brick columns which had remained at the height of two meters. Further inside — again 8 or 12 same columns, but standing on a rectangle. Along with brick columns, as though duplicating them, there were wooden columns from which the holes remained in the floor. Thus, in the mausoleum the system of roundabout corridor was formed. In the room located in the center and in corridors there was a ceramics, the weapon from bronze and gold jewelry laid. The deceased were put in the central room, burned together with the mausoleum. It is difficult to define cultural accessory of Tagiskensky burial grounds. On the one hand, the tradition of andronovo culture (the planning of mausoleums close to the Central Kazakhstani mausoleums of Begaza and Dandybaya, andronovo forms and decoration of modelled ware), with another — strong influence of the southern cultures (the mudbrick which standard is close to the southern Turkmen cultures of Namazga era of VI and later monuments Tekkem-tep and Yaz) here is traced. Tegisken's mausoleums identify the initial interaction and interference of steppe and settled cultures.

Andronian household

The majority of andronovo settlements settled down on coast of the small steppe rivers or the streams which were flowing down from mountains.  Near them in flood plains of the rivers there were fields and kitchen gardens.

At excavation of settlements pots with the remains of the burned porridge from millet were found. Pots with the remains of the burned porridge from millet were found during the excavations of settlements. In the Alekseev settlement, in northern Kazakhstan, the stalks sacrificed to gods and wheat grains are found in sacrificial holes.  Prints of cereals remained on edges of sickles from the settlement of Small Krasnoyarsk in East Kazakhstan. On all settlements rectangular and round pestle for crushing and grinding grain into flour, sickles, hoes stone were usual finds.

Cattle breeding played more essential role  in lives of andronians. Animals were given food, wool, skin, bone for diy, fuel in the form of dried dung. Milk was the main food of andronians. The findings of vessels with holes for draft serum are testify that they  made curd and chees of them. Meat was a delicacy, it ate in holidays, sacrificed also to gods. Sheep, cows, horses were the main animals.  To food generally there were young animals, at the age of two-three years, thoroughbred individuals were left on a tribe. Such system allowed to support the number of cattle and its high efficiency.

It is established by researches that in the herds grazed in feather-grass step;and on miscellaneous herbs of the Alpine meadows, there were three different breeds: horses undersized, height in withers to 128 — 136 cm, with the big head, a shaggy mane, pot-bellied.They were similar to modern Mongolian horses. Average and tall horses height in withers of 136 — 152 cm and weighing up to 350 kg were the most numerous in herds.And, at last, elite breed height in withers of 152 — 160 cm, lean, with thin legs, a little head and a high neck. They were used for a charioteer  team — the most terrible and mobile military force of that time. Andronians were great cattle-farmers.They were  the first in world practice  who entered the stall maintenance of cattle in the winter. In frosty time young growth placed to the heated dwelling, fencing off a special compartment. Сattle-penwere attached to houses.

Andronians  bred two-humped Bactrian camels. Their bones are found on settlements and in burial grounds. Images of camels were put on rocks, in one case, on Ushkatta's settlement the clay figurine of a camel was found.

It can be argued  that in the period of early and average bronze, that is before the beginning of the I millennium BC, andronians were settled; conducted the mixed household, were engaged in agriculture and cattle breeding. The last was house land. At such form of animal husbandry of a pasture quickly grew scanty. For preservation of efficiency of cattle breeding and increase in herd new forms of the maintenance of animals were necessary. Andronians  had a mountain sheep pasture (semi-nomadic) type of cattle breeding when women and children lived in the village, being engaged in agriculture, and men and teenagers with the herd in the spring and summer went for  a long grazing, and returned home in late autumn.

Seasonal migration distances were different. In Semirechye and East Kazakhstan they made from 50 to 80 km, in the Western Kazakhstan — the way from summer pastures lasted on hundreds kilometers, crossing steppes and deserts.  So, gradually from the house land grew mountain sheep pasture, or distant-pasture cattle breeding, and then and nomadic, allowing to use both steppe and desert pastures.

In process of transition to nomadic and semi-nomadic cattle breeding the herd structure changed: the quantity of cattle was reduced and the number of rams and horses increased.

© History and ethnology Institute named after Ch.Ch.Valikhanova of KN of MES RK, 2013

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