The valleys of Gomy Altai are a real treasure-house for archeologists. Here, in this rich land with a great variety of animals and plants, different tribes, replacing each other, have left a valuable evidence of their existence for researchers. In the beginning of the 1st millennium B.C. one of the most original cultures of the Scythian world-Pazyryk culture was formed here. Many ancient mummies and well-preserved clothes, weapons, jewelry, domestic utensils with animal ornaments have been found in ice-filled burial mounds of the Pazyryk stow and the Ukok plateau. In the final years of the 1st millennium B.C. their owners were conquered by Hunnus.*
Then, driven by Central-Asiatic tribes, the nomadic tribes from neighboring regions of Tuva and Northern Mongolia "gushed" to these places. Later on, in the middle of the 1st millennium A.D. Zhuzhans** moved bellicose Turks to the southern spurs of Altai. The latter united all local tribes and together with the North Chinese Empire defeated Zhuzhans and set up their own state subduing all memacls of the steppe belt of Eurasia from the Black to the Yellow Sea.
Monuments of the aforesaid period - kurgans, cave drawings, stone sculptures, runic inscriptions-have been studied well enough. Considerably less is known about those that appeared in the 2nd-5th centuries. Of course, researchers came across some of them already back in the 19th century, but target research began only in the last twenty years. As a result of excava-
* Hunnus - an ancient nomadic people living in Central Asia. Part of them moved to the west, where they mixed with the aborigines and formed a new nation-Huns. -Ed.
** Zhuzhans - a community of nomadic tribes living in the steppes of Western Manchuria, Mongolia and Turkestan in early Middle Ages. - Ed.
Burial in kurgan No. 19.
Findings from kurgan No. 19: an iron buckle, a knife, iron and bone arrow-heads.
tions, specialists of Kemerovo and Gomy Altai universities picked out Cock-Pasha culture (east of Altai), and those of Altai University (Barnaul) - Bulan-Kobinskaya culture (central part of the mountain-mass).
Archeologists from Novosibirsk took part in the studies of burial mounds in the middle part of the Katun River, which give a graphic idea of multiformity of cultures of local nomadic tribes prior to their unification into the First Turkic kaganate. One of them, Yu. Khudyakov, Dr. Sc. (History), Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the RAS Siberian Branch, told about these findings on the pages of Priroda magazine (May 2005).
The interesting complex of the 3rd-5th centuries, discovered by the scientist from Novosibirsk in 1998 in the valley of Edigan River, is a big burial mound consisting of several dozens of kurgans on its high right bank, later called Ulug-Choltukh. In 2001 - 2003 twenty-seven kurgans were excavated-small, gently sloping, two - and three-layer disintegrated rock formations. Here are buried men, women and children in compliance with an established ritual: on the back, with the head to the east, in a stretched position, with personal items. Thus, warriors, shepherds and hunters were buried with bows, arrows, daggers, while women and girls were buried with bronze bracelets, beads, plates with inscriptions. Fragments of plastic ceramic vessels were also found in Kurgan embankments.
It must be pointed out that sepulchral ritual in a traditional society was subordinated to definite requirements, and their non-fulfilment, according to its members, was fraught with irremediable misfortunes not only for the deceased but also for his/her relatives. So, obviously, telling arguments were required to deviate from those strict canons. It was such an extraordinary burial mound that had been found by scientists during excavations at Ulug-Choltukh kurgan. Externally it did not differ from other ones: under the embankment - a shallow narrow hole with two vertical stones along its eastern wall, and a grown-up man buried inside with articles of armament. But his posture is rather strange: the face is turned down, both arms are bend at elbows, left arm is under the body, a hand - on the shoulder, right arm-behind the back, one leg on the other. An oval iron buckle was found near the knee joint of the left leg.
It is well known that in majority of various cultures of Eurasia the deceased was buried face up to make it easier for the soul leaving the body to pass on to the future life. In the case under consideration, the tribesmen probably wanted to prevent this. One can only try to guess who that man was. A stranger, an enemy or a criminal could simply be thrown into the hole and buried. However, in this case many requirements of the ritual had clearly been observed, namely, buried with the deceased were his weapons - a knife, arrows. Most likely, he was notable for his non-typical behavior, instilled fear not only during his life, but even after his death; that is why we was buried face down and with tied arms and legs, which is testified by the aforesaid buck-le - a detail of the waist-belt.
Yu. S. Khudyakov, "The Grave of Pariah in the Ulug-Choltukh Stow".
PRIRODA magazine, No. 5, 2005
Prepared by Olga BAZANOVA
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