Libmonster ID: KZ-2425
Author(s) of the publication: Yu. S. KHUDYAKOV

Archaeological materials from the monuments of ancient and medieval nomads from the territory of East Turkestan are important for studying the ethnogenesis and cultural genesis of nomads. Nomad migration routes and the transcontinental trade route - the Great Silk Road-passed through the area, along which not only goods were distributed, but also cultural achievements and religious beliefs. The unique preservation of archaeological finds from nomadic monuments contributes to the reconstruction of their ethnographic appearance and opens up opportunities for comparative analysis with complexes from the Sayano-Altai, Mongolia and Central Asia.

The study of ancient monuments in East Turkestan has been conducted by scientists from Russia, European countries, Japan and China since the second half of the XIX century. In recent decades, Chinese archaeologists have studied many monuments of ancient and medieval nomadic cultures. However, until recently, these materials remained inaccessible to specialists. In recent years, review works have appeared in the national scientific literature, which analyze archaeological materials from Chinese publications .1 As a result of the work of specialists of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, materials from the latest excavations of Chinese scientists on monuments of ancient nomad cultures were introduced into scientific circulation and became available to many archaeologists .2

These materials can serve as a basis for reconstructing the process of ethno-cultural genesis of nomadic peoples of Eastern Turkestan in antiquity and the Middle Ages. A significant addition to these materials is the collections of archaeological finds from Nomad cultural monuments displayed in museums in various cities of Gansu and Xinjiang provinces, which the author of this article had the opportunity to get acquainted with during the UNESCO Silk Road project expedition in 1990.3 As part of this expedition, the collections of museums in Dunhuang, Hami, and Turfan cities were examined Kuch, Korla, Urumqi, ancient burial grounds of Upu and Astana, ancient settlements of Gaochang, Jiaohe, Shorchuk, Subashi, Temin Guai outpost, cave temples Bezeklik, Shorchuk, Kyzyk, Kyzyl-Kaya. Some materials from museum collections related to the cultures of the Saks, Huns, ancient Turks, Kyrgyz, Uyghurs, Mongols and Manchus were introduced into scientific circulation .4

The design of expositions and selection of exhibits in museums in the cities of Gansu and Xinjiang provinces has a certain" Chinese " specificity. The material is distributed over the periods of dynastic rule, usually without any indication of its belonging to a particular nomadic ethnic group, culture, or even monument. Very rarely there are indications that archaeological finds belong to any non-Chinese ethnic group, for example, to the Uyghurs. When grouping and placing materials in expositions related to different historical eras, there are significant errors, which is a consequence of insufficient knowledge of scientific literature in foreign languages by museum employees.

In the Dunhuang Museum, the exhibition presents items of toreutics: bronze belt buckles, plaques and rings, which should relate to the culture of nomads of the Xiongnu time. In one of the showcases there are iron triangular and flat arrowheads, bronze belt buckles, rectangular and semi - oval rim badges, belt tips, clips, rings, openwork plaque and pendant. Some of these finds come from the Shou-Chhan settlement. They are attributed by the compilers of the exhibition to the period of the Tang Dynasty. Most of the finds of toreutics items have analogues in the culture of the ancient Turks and should relate to the period of existence of the Second Eastern Turkic Khaganate and the Turgesh Khaganate. The same museum exhibits Tang finds: miniature metal models of rod psalms, one end of which is decorated in the form of a stylized horse's head, and so on. -

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the same models of stirrups with a plate loop, bronze plaques in the form of profile figures of bridled and sledged horses and an openwork bronze tee-plate with a stylized floral ornament. These finds date back to 1036-1227, but they are analogous in the materials of the Kyrgyz culture of the IX-X centuries.

The Khami Museum displays nomadic antiquities from various historical eras. The exhibition includes finds from the Bronze Age: a lop-edged axe with a wide blade, an elongated wedge, an oval butt and a low roller on the butt from the Balikun (Barkhundiy) monument, characteristic of the Andronovo cultural community of the developed Bronze Age; single-edged daggers with a handle curved towards the blade. One of them has a crosshair with a spike and pommels in the form of the head of a mountain ram-argali. This dagger from the Huayuanxiang Monument has been published many times. The other three daggers have an annular pommel, a straight handle with ridges around the edges. One of the daggers has a spike in the crosshair. The blades of daggers are curved towards the blade or back. Usually these daggers belong to the Karasuk era of the late Bronze Age. In East Turkestan, such daggers should belong to the Kereksur and deer stone culture.

The bronze two-bladed vtul-shaped arrowhead should belong to the early Saka period, and to the Saka culture - finds from the burial grounds of Upu, Jan-Bulak and Kara-Tube. The museum exhibits mummified bodies of those buried in clothing, hats, shoes, mats, horn and wooden combs, bronze mirrors, bells, plaques, leather, wooden and ceramic vessels, stone pestles and touchstones, a bronze celt with a wooden handle, a whip, a horn pipe and a plate, a bronze cauldron on a pallet. Bronze plaques and arrowheads date back to the Khun period, and a stone statue with a mask is typical of the cultures of the ancient Turks. The Uyghur culture includes a compound bow, a birch bark quiver with a wooden receiver and a bone loop, and wooden arrows with flat and rhombic iron tips from the Balikun (Barkhundiy) monument. Two flat iron spearheads and a flat-tipped thrusting dart must date back to the Mongol era.

The Turfan Museum exhibits Saka and Xiongnu finds. Among them are wooden objects: mugs, cups on a pallet, jugs with a side handle, cups, troughs, bow keys, arrows with an iron and horn tip and a bone ball-whistle; bronze two-bladed arrowheads, bronze hammers, dagger and knife; gold rosette badge, gold hemispherical plaques and gold balls. All these finds date back to 475 BC - 8 AD. Bronze weapons and wooden utensils, woolen trousers, carpet should belong to the Saka culture, and arrows with whistles, iron bits and rod psalms, gold jewelry-to the Xiongnu time. The Uyghur culture includes a bow, a quiver of arrows, and a wooden saddle.

The museum of Korla exhibits Saka, Hunnic and medieval finds. Among them are ceramic jugs with a handle and a drain decorated with a diagonal strip of geometric ornaments, bronze bits, a knife, a three-sided arrowhead, a spear, a buckle, an ornament in the form of antipodal camel heads, an iron knife, bone arrowheads, a wooden bow and an arrow shaft dating from 2800-2500 AD. with vessels. There are burials of horses, heads and feet of horses. Bronze three-bladed vtul-shaped and petiolate arrowheads from the Taedinh monument should belong to the Saka period. In a separate hall, mummies of two women and a girl in clothes are displayed, as well as clothing, shoes, hats and utensils of the Saka culture made of wool, leather and felt, bone and wood products, ceramic vessels. The Xiongnu period includes bow pads, iron three-bladed arrowheads, a knife, bronze buckles and rings, iron plates from the belt, to the culture of the ancient Turks - bronze buckles, rim plates, pads, belt tips, breakdown. The Mongol era is characterized by iron arrows and a spring-loaded buckle, ceramic vessels, bronze figurines, jewelry-coins from the Taedinh and Ruoqiang monuments. A helmet with a chainmail barmit, chain mail and a saber should belong to the Late Middle Ages.

The museum of Kucha exhibits a pair burial. The buried lie on their backs, stretched out, without accompanying equipment. A single buried person is in an elongated position, the wooden coffin is painted red. Presented in the exhibition is an iron knife with a ring pommel, three-bladed, round and triangular arrowheads,

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bronze plaque can refer to the Xiongnu period; to the advanced Middle Ages - iron spear, pommels, irrigation and gray clay pottery vessels; to the Late Middle Ages-iron helmet, arrowheads, bronze plaques, wooden saddle bow.

The museum of the Institute of Archeology of Xinjiang in Urumqi displays finds from the Loulan settlement in the vicinity of the lake. Lobnor and from the Xinjiang Altai. These are wooden wells, pillars from the grave structure, dishes, a felt cap decorated with strips of cloth and sticks covered with leather, bronze arrowheads, a bronze two-handed cauldron on a pallet, bronze bits of Saka time. The Xiongnu period includes horn-shaped bow linings, wooden arrow shafts, iron trihedral and bronze trihedral arrowheads; the culture of the ancient Turks includes iron bits, stirrups and a pottery gray-clay vessel with a carved ornament on the body.

The SU AR Historical Museum exhibits Bronze Age finds: lop-eared axes, celts, daggers, knives, and a bone arrowhead. Saka period dates back to ceramic vessels, a bronze cauldron, a mirror with a handle in the form of a mountain goat, an axe, bronze two-bladed and three-sided arrowheads. The exposition of the Usun culture features a bronze, ornamented cauldron on a pallet. The Khun period includes finds from the Research Institute: a compound bow, arrow shafts, a wooden cylindrical quiver with a belt belt, and an iron three-bladed arrowhead. A bronze plaque and terracotta figurines from the Astana monument date back to the 4th century AD. The ancient Turkic culture includes a stone statue of a warrior with a vessel in his right hand and a broadsword on his belt, made of reindeer stone. The reverse side of the statue depicts deer. A cast-iron bell, an iron spear, an arrowhead and bronze plaques are displayed in the exhibition of Uyghur cultural finds. Finds from Vashisya should relate to the Kyrgyz culture. Among the exhibits of the Yuan era, a composite bow and a wooden arrow shaft with plumage are displayed.

The Ming finds exhibit includes two helmets and two chain mail. One helmet is made in the form of a spherical dome with a stamped inscription in Arabic script. The second one has a spheroconic dome, pommels with a plume tube, overhead plates and a lamellar barmitsa.

In general, the museum collections of East Turkestan present a variety of objects that characterize the ethnographic appearance, material and spiritual culture, and military affairs of the nomadic peoples who inhabited Xinjiang in ancient and medieval times. The use of these materials for analyzing and reconstructing the process of ethnogenesis and cultural genesis of nomads is important not only for studying the history of East Turkestan, but also for the entire Central Asian historical and cultural region.


1 East Turkestan in the Ancient and early Middle Ages. Ocherki istorii [Essays on History], Moscow, 1988, pp. 156-189. Economy, material culture, Moscow, 1995, pp. 255-302.

Komissarov S. A., Alkin S. V.. Polos'mak N. V., Cheremisin D. V., Chikisheva T. A. 2 Altay-Xinjiang in the archaeological perspective / / Socio-economic structure of ancient societies of Western Siberia. Barnaul, 1997. pp. 121-123; Molodin V. I., Alkin S. V. Burial ground of Gumugou (Xinjiang) in the context of the Afanasiev problem // Humanities Research: results of recent years. Novosibirsk, 1997. pp. 35-38; Varenov A.V. Yuzhnosibirskiye kul'tury epokhi rannoi i pozdnoi bronzy v Vostochnom Turkestan [South Siberian cultures of the Early and Late Bronze Age in Eastern Turkestan]. Series: Archeology and ethnography. 1998. N 3. pp. 60-72.

Khudyakov Yu. S. 3 UNESCO Silk Road Project Expedition in China // Izvestiya SB AN SSSR. Ser. History, Philology and Philosophy. 1991. Issue 1, pp. 71-72. The work was carried out under the grant RGNFN 99-01-00319.

Khudyakov Yu. S. 4 Po "Silkovomu puti": arkheologicheskie kollektsii v muzeyakh Shaanxi, Gansu i Sin'tszyana [The Road to the Silk Road: Archaeological collections in Shaanxi, Gansu and Xinjiang Museums]. Theses of Reports, Moscow, 1991, ch. 3, pp. 176-178.

Savinov D. G. 5 Narody Yuzhnoi Sibiri v drevnetyurkskuyu epokhu [Peoples of Southern Siberia in the Ancient Turkic era].


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Yu. S. KHUDYAKOV, COLLECTIONS OF NOMADIC ANTIQUITIES IN THE MUSEUMS OF EAST TURKESTAN // Astana: Digital Library of Kazakhstan (BIBLIO.KZ). Updated: 28.06.2024. URL: (date of access: 25.07.2024).

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