Excavations

Settlement Excavations at Begash

Begash is a prehistoric pastoralist settlement located in the Dzhungar Mountains (Koksu River Valley) of Semirech’ye in present day Kazakhstan. In contrast to the idea that pastoralist camps are short-lived and ephemeral, Begash’s chronology and archaeology illustrate more than 4000 years of locally reiterated construction technology and pastoral strategy, as well as continuous historical investment in the local landscape on the part of its prehistoric and historical inhabitants. The site’s stratified phases of architectural construction and smaller encampments start as early as 2500 BC, and document a pattern of long-term re-use of a particular settlement location by mobile pastoralists throughout prehistory and later periods. Begash’s archaeology reflects an important aspect of regional continuity in the seasonal habitation and social landscape of mobile pastoralists in eastern Eurasia in the Bronze Age.



Burial Excavation at Begash

Begash is a prehistoric pastoralist settlement located in the Dzhungar Mountains (Koksu River Valley) of Semirech’ye in present day Kazakhstan. In contrast to the idea that pastoralist camps are short-lived and ephemeral, Begash’s chronology and archaeology illustrate more than 4000 years of locally reiterated construction technology and pastoral strategy, as well as continuous historical investment in the local landscape on the part of its prehistoric and historical inhabitants. The site’s stratified phases of architectural construction and smaller encampments document a pattern of long-term re-use of a particular settlement location by mobile pastoralists throughout prehistoric and later periods, indexing localized continuity in the seasonal habitation and social landscape of local pastoralists.

The site’s importance in the landscape of the Koksu River Valley is also indexed by two large associated cemeteries, Begash-2 and Begash-3, located close to the settlement. Test excavations in 2002 and 2005 revealed stone cist burials characteristic of the late Bronze Age, as well as kurgan burials that illustrate continuity of use in the burial ground in the Iron Age (based on regional analogues).

Settlement Excavations at Mukri

Recent excavations at the prehistoric and historic encampment at Mukri, in the foothills of the Dzhungar Mountains of eastern Kazakhstan (also known as Semirech’ye or Zhetisu), illustrate the shifting strategies of mobile pastoralist communities at a seemingly small, isolated camp in a marginal territory.  The archaeology of Mukri illustrates how mobile pastoralist communities created and reshaped their landscape through time by activating and deactivating a tangible node in a dynamic social geography.  The site’s long chronology is documented by 14 AMS dates that span more than 3000 years of periodic occupation, revealing at least four distinct phases of construction from the Final Bronze Age (800 BCE) to later historic times (the eighteenth century).

Burial Excavations at Kyzyl-Tas

In the summer of 2007, a team of Washington University archaeologists discovered the burial ground of Kyzl-Tas in the foothill regions of eastern Kazakhstan. The cemetery is located a remote territory but which is key to understanding the formation of social and economic networks between Bronze Age mountain nomads living in the Dzhungar and Tian Shan Mts and those living in lowland territories to the west. Recent SAIE lab research has proposed that discrete populations in the mountains and desert regions formulated independent political and economic spheres that overlapped through complex and dynamic networks of trade and social interaction.