Metanavigation

Russian Federation: Barsuchij Log

The grave tumulus of Barsuchij Log, Republic of Khakassia: a large kurgan from the Early Iron Age in the Minusinsk Basin

Studies of Scythian elites in the South Siberian steppe.

Die eurasische Steppe bietet beträchtliches Potential für Untersuchungen zu Forschungsfeld 1, der Erschließung und Nutzung von Räumen. Eine ideale Modellregion für derartige Betrachtungen ist das im Südosten des heutigen Kazachstan gelegene Siebenstromland, in dem ab 2008 ein umfassendes Forschungsvorhaben beginnen soll. Dabei handelt es sich um einen klar begrenzten Lebensraum mit einer einmaligen Konzentration von Denkmälern vieler Perioden. Im Gegensatz zu den offenen Steppen weiter Teile Eurasiens wird dieses Gebiet von fruchtbaren Flusstälern durchzogen, die eine landwirtschaftliche Entwicklung begünstigten. Das Nebeneinander von Viehzucht und Ackerbau dürfte die wirtschaftlichen Grundlagen dieser Landschaft von Anfang an geprägt haben, doch ist es noch kaum erforscht, obwohl die naturräumlichen Voraussetzungen ein solches Nebeneinander geradezu bedingten. Hinzu tritt eine bevorzugte verkehrsstrategische Lage, die neben Gütertausch auch intensivere Kulturkontakte ermöglichte, und zwar von den Hochkulturen Chinas aus durch die Dsungarische Pforte und entlang des Ili-Flusses in den Südosten Kazachstans. Dort entstand in skythischer Zeit die sog. sakische Kultur.

Das Siebenstromland gehört zu jenen Regionen des eurasischen Steppengürtels, die in der Zeit des Reiterkriegernomadismus neben Grabanlagen auch Siedlungsstellen liefern und somit ein vielseitigeres Bild der archäologischen Überlieferung bieten als andere Teile der Steppe. Die Niederlassungen treten jedoch erst allmählich zutage und zeigen einmal mehr, dass die von der früheren Forschung skizzierten Bilder nur bedingt tragfähig sind. Es liegt eine kontinuierliche Kultur- und Siedlungsentwicklung besonders seit der Bronzezeit vor. Erst an ihrem Ende vollzieht sich jener tiefgreifende Wandel, den wir in nahezu allen Teilen des eurasischen Steppengürtels fassen: Reiternomadische Kulturverhältnisse entstehen, die ihren Ausdruck in einer teilweise veränderten Wirtschaftsform, besonders aber in einer beispiellosen sozialen Stratifizierung, sichtbar an monumentalen Grabanlagen mit prunkvollen Beigabenausstattungen, sowie in einer aus älteren Wurzeln erwachsenen neuen Kunstform, dem Tierstil, finden.

Die gesteigerte Mobilität der Reiternomaden bewirkte neue Formen des Raumverständnisses sowie der Erschließung und Nutzung von Räumen. Ein tieferes Verständnis davon, wie der Raum in Besitz genommen, strukturiert und genutzt wird, läßt den hinter dem Beginn des Reiternomadentums stehenden kulturellen Wandel besser begreifbar machen. Insbesondere die Verteilung von Kurgan-Gräberfeldern und die Erfassung der inneren Struktur großer, für ihre jeweilige Region zentraler Nekropolen wird wichtige weiterführende Einblicke gestatten, die durch die gezielte Ausgrabung einzelner Kurgane ergänzt werden sollen. Zentrale Frage wird dabei sein, wie sich das Auftreten neuer Eliten in der Gestaltung und Nutzung von Räumen auswirkt.

Location

Location

Germany
53° 56' 36.9816" N, 91° 10' 50.2608" E

Objectives

Burial grounds that were in use for centuries indicate that a large portion of the prehistoric cultures of South and West Siberia consisted of egalitarian societies. However, beginning with the Early Iron Age that was characterized by Scythian material culture, a fundamental change took place. This process started in the ninth/eighth century B.C. with the occurrence of a deep social stratification that was expressed particularly in the building of monumental graves (large kurgans) with richly equipped burial chambers. A long-term project aims to investigate in detail one large kurgan in each main archaeological regions of the Eurasian steppe.

History of Research

Research into the large kurgans of the Iron Age in the Eurasian steppe region was started with the excavations at Bajkara in the North Kazakh forest steppe (1997-1999) and then continued in Arzhan in Northern Tuva (2000-2003). In both cases it became apparent that these monumental graves had been built in stages. It is a particular type of architecture which allows significant observations of the ritual and staging of the burial process and the associated cult practices. In addition, Arzhan produced unique finds. In 2004 the excavation of the large kurgan of Barsuchij Log was started in the Minusinsk Basin, another archaeological province.

Previous Activities

The fieldwork began in 2003 with a first surface survey of the site. In the following years a geophysical survey was carried out on the monument in order to gain first information on the structure of the kurgan and its immediate surroundings as well as on possible burial chambers and other interior constructions. This survey was carried out by DAI archaeologists, scientists of the Institute of Geophysics of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Novosibirsk, and specialists of the Eastern Atlas Meyer & Ullrich GbR in Berlin. In 2004 and 2005 the monument was excavated.

Recent Activities

The final field season is planned for the summer 2006. The excavation will be completed, and subsequently the DAI will participate in the handing over of the site to the local authorities and the proposed preparation of the monument for public presentation. Further details concerning the burial ritual which is so far unique, as well as the exceptional building style of this kurgan will have to be extricated in the process of interpreting the evidence from the excavation.

Results

The kurgan, about 10 m tall, had a unique pyramidal mound which distinguishes it from all other large Eurasian kurgans. It also had a stone enclosure of about 55 x 55 m including an entrance on the eastern side - features which are characteristic of the Saragas phase of the Tagar culture. The investigations indicated that the kurgan had been built out of grass sods, while its outer coat consisted of orange-red blocks of loam. Thus it would have been visible in the steppe from afar as a pyramid of reddish colour. Two platforms separated by an entrance way (dromos) arose beneath the pyramid. This entrance was built of huge larch beams, around which a layer of birch bark had been wrapped for insulation. Because of its excellent state of preservation, the entrance way allowed for the documentation of numerous building details. Originally it led into a tomb that was also built of wood and covered by birch bark and that rose above the 7 x 7 m burial pit. After the deceased had been buried, this construction was incinerated in order to collapse into the pit, before the kurgan was erected on top of the grave. When around 200 B.C. the bearers of the Tes´-culture entered the Minusinsk Basin, they apparently intentionally opened and ransacked the "royal tombs" of the earlier rulers in this region, as also happened in the case of our kurgan in Barsuchij Log.

Cooperation / Cooperation partners

The project is carried out by the Berlin Head Office of the German Archaeological Institute (Prof. Dr. H. Parzinger, Dr. A. Nagler) in cooperation with the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Novosibirsk (Prof. Dr. V.I. Molodin, Dr. N.V. Polos´mak) and the Khakassian State University in Abakan (Dr. A. Gotlib).

Bilder

Results of the geomagnetic survey
Results of the geomagnetic survey
Exposing the cover of the burial chamber
Exposing the cover of the burial chamber
Kurgans in the steppe along the middle Enisey river
Kurgans in the steppe along the middle Enisey river
The site after the excavation of the mound
The site after the excavation of the mound
Gold finds from the looted central grave
Gold finds from the looted central grave
During the excavation works
During the excavation works

Recent projects

  • 24.10.2013

    The language of clothes along the Silk Road: What does their wardrobe speak to us about humans between 1000 BC and 300 AD? more

  • 22.10.2012

    Frühe protourbane Zentren im nordwestpontischen Raum? Untersuchung einer Cucuteni-Tripol´e-zeitlichen Großsiedlung more

  • 07.05.2012

    Siedlungskomplex Orlovka-Kartal und die frühe Kupferzeit im nordwestlichen Schwarzmeer-Gebiet (Ukraine/Republik Moldau) more

Completed projects

  • 06.07.2011

    Russian Federation: Barsuchij Log more

  • 21.06.2011

    Russian Federation: Chicha more

  • 21.06.2011

    Russian Federation: Suchanicha more

Contact

The German Archaeological Institute (DAI) is a »scientific corporation« of the Federal Institution under the auspices of the Foreign Office. The staff of the Institute carries out research in the area of archaeology and in related fields and maintains relations with international scholars.
Furthermore, it organizes congresses, colloquia and tours, and informs the public through the media about its work.  

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