Analyses

Human Bioarchaeology Analysis

An important method related to excavation of human burials is physical anthropology, sometimes called “bioarchaeology.” Throughout the variety of excavations a number of specialists have analyzed the human skeletal remains to assess the age, sex, and general forensics of Bronze and Iron Age individuals from the Dzhungar Mountain region. Despite the limited sample size excavated thus far, data from our excavations in Kazakhstan is of considerable value in obtaining a pooled regional sample from the Koksu-Zhalgyzagash River Valley. While it is of great importance to document these materials as a regional representative, it is also our goal to collect new data from older collections, as it is imperative to establish a baseline of normal biological variation in the Eurasian steppe.

Paleoethnobotany Analysis

The prehistoric settlement Begash, located in the Semirech’ye region of eastern Kazakhstan, was excavated in 2002, 2005, and 2006 as part of the joint Kazakh-American Dzhungar Mountains Archaeology Project (DMAP). From at least 2500 BC, Begash was occupied by small groups of mobile pastoralists, whose economy was based on vertically transhumant sheep/goat herding in the Dzhungar Mts.  A major part of our excavation strategy was to sample the anthropogenic soils to document the way Bronze Age and later societies used plants, and to gain insights into the environmental conditions of various time periods during the life of the site.  Two types of soil samples — bulk samples and feature samples — were collected during excavations at Begash for the purpose of flotation. Bulk samples were collected from all cultural layers throughout the site to assess baseline botanical data.

Zooarchaeology Analysis

From at least 2500 BC, Begash was occupied by small groups of mobile pastoralists, whose economy was based on vertically transhumant sheep and goat herding in the Dzhungar Mountains.   Recent excavations at the pastoralist settlement Begash, located in eastern Kazakhstan, provide well-stratified assemblages of domesticated animal remains spanning from the Early Bronze Age to later historical periods (c. 2500 BC – AD 1900).  This faunal record provides invaluable long- term data to document changes in the pastoralist subsistence economy when sheep and cattle herding became dominant across the steppe.