The Bronze Age — the time for activity of miners –explorers and metallurgists, shepherds and farmers
The end of the 3rd and the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC- the epoch of Paleometal in the history of the Eurasian population, inhabiting the steppe space was the crucial moment, where, once and for all, firmly established advanced forms of producing cattle-breeding and complex land-cattle-breeding, while an intensive opening up of copper ore deposits began. Unfortunately, relics of that period, called Eneolithic epoch, are marked only by single kinds — human burials in the outskirts of the Ust-Narym settlement and the Chernovoye villages well as women’s burials near the Menovnoye village, situated in the suburbs of the Ust-Kamenogorsk, where 240 bone tabs of leaf-like form, decorating clothes, were found.
The epoch of bronze was the most significant period, when, in fact, all basic components of modern economic-cultural types were formed, and clear systems of cult-ideological grasps settled as well as public-political relationships, and sprouts of state arrangements emerged.
Eastern Kazakhstan was the territory of universal settling apart from the Andropov and Fedorov tribes. The materials are evidence of historical-cultural processes in the region, uneven taking their course, there were the most significant cultural and chronological changes between the 2nd and the 1st millenniums BC and in the first half of the 1st millenniums BC.
A. G. Maximova divided Eastern Kazakhstan relics of the bronze epoch into an early, developed (middle) and late stages, and distinguished a number of features which are distinctive only to this region — coexistence of two burial rites — corpse laying down and corpse burning, the availability of burial places in burial mounds as well as in fences.
Big dwellings like half dug-outs were characteristic for that period. Essential economic changes for the better in tribes’ economy, including big increase of the horses’ number prepared the base for the transition to nomadic cattle-breeding.
S. S. Chemikov, some time ago, reasonably formulated the local peculiarities and distinguishing features of the material population culture of the bronze age in Eastern Kazakhstan and marked out four types of cultural development. For the first time, he investigated settlements of the bronze epoch — early, middle and late times. These works resulted in getting absolutely new data which characterized the image of ancient population’s material culture in this region.
S. S. Chemikov’s studies of ancient copper, tin and gold mine-workings in the area of the Kalba and the Narym ranges was innovatory for that time. The special place in his work took reconstruction matters of ancient miners’ and metallurgists’ production activity, the renewal of the way for tunneling of mountain rocks under Eastern Kazakhstan conditions that meant going into global problems of paleoeconomy.
A new stage in studying of this problem started in 2003 due to works of the Kazakh-German expedition at the Askaraly complex within the limits of Delbegetei granite mountain-mass in spurs of the Kalbinski range, consisting of mines, settlements and miners’ necropolis.
At some plot, its area was equal to 1, 6×0, 5 km, 50 mountain mine-workings, 375 stone gadgets were found, made of very solid mountain rocks — dioritic and diabase porphyrits, and tuffaceous rocks.
At another plot some mines were also found, situated in the form of chain according to deposits of tin mineralization. The width of mine-workings is from 1, 1 meter to 2, 3 meters and its depth is up to 9 meters.
The settlements of miners located in near mines. Their dwelling constructions had right-angled in plan form, made of granite slabs. Cultural remainders could be marked inside as well as outside of dwellings.
Miner’s burials are at the elevated site of the granite ridge bottom, between the settlement and mountain min-workings. Burials were made in stone boxes, directed to west-east axis and kept remains of a full or part corpse burning. The stock was represented by ceramics, stone hammers, similar to those which were found in mountain mine-workings.
F. Arslanova, due to successful and long excavation, at different times, when necropolis at the Zevakino village was taken as an example, introduced into scientific terminology the unique material on the bronze epoch of Eastern Kazakhstan., which characterizes the variety in burial ritual: constructions inside of burial grounds are displayed by the cyst, stone box, wooden frame and soil pits, floors made of stone plates.
The ceramic tableware with rich geometrical ornament, bronze daggers and other material sets give the opportunity to refer indicated relics to the flourishing period of the bronze century cultures.
Returning back to the characteristic of the tribes’ belongings set of the bronze epoch, it is offered to mark that this period was the time of amazing usage of bronze and metal gadgets. Many distinguished types of metallurgic handicrafts, including decorations were used in the way of life of these tribes throughout several centuries, transforming and modifying. Decorations, according to traditions, are part of women clothes. Garment, which is one of the criteria of ethno-cultural belonging, at the same time, reflects social and sexual-age status of its owners, besides, outlook images of its creators were reflected in it as well. There is a big collection of articles, by means of which women of that far epoch decorated themselves — head, breast decorations, for wearing around neck and on hands. Due to this material archaeologists managed greatly in reconstructing of the wearing way of separate decoration categories as well as some costume details. The widespread women’s decorations were bronze and gold bell-shaped earrings, which comprised ethnographic peculiarity of Eastern-Kazakhstan tribes. For decoration of head-dresses, pendants — earrings in one and a half turn were worn.
In Eastern Kazakhstan, in the depths of the bronze epoch, bright prototypes made in so-called “seimino-turbino graphic tradition”, which marked cultural and art sources of ancient nomads had appeared. For example, two stone rods with horses’ heads found in the outskirts of the city of Semipalatinsk, bronze dagger near Shemonaikha with a horse sculpture on the top and, besides, another dagger in the kind of a mountain sheep miniature on the top, were found in the Ulan area. In the seimino- turbino style, a series of rock horse imprints was performed with peculiar picture of horse body, forelock and head.
The materials of the unique archaeological complex of the transitional (the 9th — 8th centuries BC) had a special meaning for the solution of the problem connected with composing and origin of the next historical epoch within the limits of the Zevakino burial mound field, explored by F. Arslanova. While solving matters, concerning cultural succession and autochthonic population development of this area, necropolis Temir Kanka (the 11th — 9th centuries BC) of the late bronze century is of great interest, its materials is clearly traced the line of the preceding cultural tradition and appearance of a new epoch elements.
The Izmailovo archeological complex of the transitional, from bronze to iron period in Eastern Kazakhstan, is characterized by the impressive confusion of different cultural materials and mutual finding of articles of different epochs.
It is interesting by the fact, that it is one of few relics on the Irtysh River which can be connected at the hypothetic level with Begazy, protruding to the east from its basic ethno-area in Central Kazakhstan. Materials of the whole number of relics (in Zevakino, Izmailovka, Kogaly, Temir Kanka and other sites) confirm the existence of relics, belonging to the transitional period at this territory, as well as living so long of the cultural tradition of the late bronze century in this chronological interval.
At that time, side by side with small single and settled to each other fences of patriarchal family-tribal burial grounds appear very big, sometimes of Cyclopean parameters complicated funeral erections, which marked social-economic differences coming into existence and relations connected with them. The stone bronze tops of maces are evidence to it (Malokrasnoyarka, Alakol) which belonged to people authorized with special authorities and power. Of the whole mass of people, castes of the military, chariotmen, priests and of other votaries were distinguished and mentioned in ancient texts of Avesta, Rigveda hymns.
The attitude to the habitat and the formation of adaptation mechanism to natural-ecological niche, and composing of systems of outlook values were displayed in the population of the bronze century in a different way. The universal cult of the sun and of other heavenly bodies as well as of fire was marked by numerous imprints of solar signs in petrographers, such striking findings as foundry form which looked like disc with rays, a bone badge with carved ornament as a circle, geometric patterns on vessels and so on.
The cult of fire, which is seen while corpse burning can be observed in practice of burial of the tribes of the bronze century, is a ritual of cleaning by fire. Pieces of raddle, frequently noticed in burials and pouring down of red paint on a dead body, in particular, proves the important role of red colour — a symbol of fire and the sun in the ritual and in their mythological imagination.
The archaeological material is significantly indicative of the fact, that there existed the developed cult of ancestors and naturally a belief in the life hereafter. The belief in life continuation in another being supposed the construction of funeral structures, according to a deseased status in life, very clearly differentiated by quantity and qualitative number of accompanying things as well. In the bronze epoch, the institution of priests’ cult finds even clearer forms. Priests of different cults concentrate in their hands not only religious but secular functions and become key figures in the hierarchic structure of the society.
Z. Samashev, A. Ermolayeva, G. Kush “The ancient treasures of the Kazakh Altai”, Publisher “Oner”, 2008.
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