Archeology and History of the Silk Road

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Friday, 29 August 2014

Stories untold: rediscovering Kargil’s forgotten past

Stories untold: rediscovering Kargil’s forgotten past

“If the place is not recognised
It is from where the whole land is seen”-The Gesar Saga


For those who have lived through an extensively televised Kargil war, perhaps still think of it is a garrison town. History cannot be persuaded to forget its best and worst. And maybe, rightly so. But it can stagnate and stink to the point that a time-freeze envelops and obscures its very subject and place-names themselves become mnemonic references for the event. In a broadcast age when News can become a history, the danger of usurping of the previous and the potential plagues us.  

The blinkered collective memory is inexorable and rejects everything else as mundane and irrelevant.  But it is a bit of a conundrum. The fact that we begin with a mention of the war testifies to the durability and inescapability of a particular association. It may act as a constant reminder against future abrasions, even as we lament the typecast that comes with it.

There is also the danger of forcing something new to efface the old, just for the sake of prepping and posturing. But the intention here is to revisit the importance of Kargil in its glorious past, on the Silk Route and the curious mercantile intermingling owing to its geographic location. 
The Silk Route Trade Route – Overview.

The Silk Route(s) remains now as some forgotten trodden road in history. It became eponymous with its most valued piece of trade, Silk from China, but in fact, items of every description for daily as well as luxury use were despatched from Asia to many ports and towns in Africa, Europe and the Americas, receiving produce and manufactured items from these, in return. The overland and sea Silk Routes which were famous even in the reign of Alexander the Great and the Han Dynasty in China, expanded to become the centuries-old, multidirectional,  transcontinental thoroughfare for the movement, on horseback, donkey, mule, yak and foot, of everything from silk to spices and of course-people and ideas!

An important stop on the “Treaty Road” from Srinagar, to Leh and Central Asia, it was said  ‘all the roads lead to Kargil’ as it was equidistant from Kashmir, Baltistan (in Pakistan), Zanskar and Leh. Kargil literally means a place to stop from all directions. Its etymology has evolved from the word Garkill. Where “gar” means from all places and “khil” to stop. And true to its name, all historical accounts of British and European travellers reveal Kargil to be just that. Situated along the river Suru (a tributary of the Indus, which flows into Pakistan) it boasted of a fort build by the Ladakhi King in the 19th century. The old caravan bazaar ran along the river and a few mud houses by the slopes nestled in a green oasis of the Suru valley.
A view of the Old Caravan Bazaar in Kargil from 1930 and 2013.

The usual trade route began from Kashgar, Yarkand, Khotan in Central Asia, Xingjiang province of China and entered Indian borders at Nubra valley in Leh to Kargil then carried on till Srinagar on horse or camel backs. From Srinagar it travelled to Hoshiarpur or Amritsar via Rawalpindi by lorries. And from there it travelled to the ports of Bombay and Bengal via trains from where on these goods were shipped to Europe, Africa and Arab countries.

Ek Tajir aur Ek Sarai- An Inn on the Silk Route: 
Munshi Aziz Bhat Sarai in Old Caravan Bazaar, Kargil.

It is on this very famed mercantile route that Munshi Aziz Bhat, a pioneer in many endeavours, decided to erect a Sarai-an inn in Kargil in 1920. Munshi Aziz Bhat who officiated as the petition writer of the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir state for Baltistan Wazarat, rose to prominence during the period 1880-1950 when he established his own large scale trading business enterprise called “Munshi Aziz Bhat And Sons”.

Munshi Aziz Bhat built the first ever Inn in Kargil for the central Asian traders that came to be known as the Aziz Bhat Sarai. The Sarai was constructed in 1920 and “…it would seem that for the transporters belonging to the villages downriver from Drass, Kargil (rather than Srinagar) was the centre to which they went in the first instance in search of work. The hub of this activity was Munshi Aziz Bhat’s sarai, which was a depot for goods going in all four directions...there was in particular plenty of coming and going between Kargil and Skardu…”(Janet Rizvi, Trans-Himalayan Caravans, Merchant Princes and Peasant Traders in Ladakh p:260). 

The Sarai is a three storied square building where are the trading activities were carried. It can still be found in Kargil on the banks of river Suru in old Caravan Bazar. This Sarai is considered the only surviving inn of the Silk route in Ladakh and North-west India and the discovery and range of mercantile items here, as opposed to just antique artefacts, has been an unprecedented find in recorded history.

A Museum; a lost history:
 The Aziz Bhat Sarai was part of the family possessions and property bequeathed by Munshi Aziz Bhat to his family. However, it remained under lock and key for almost half a century before the chance discovery of nothing less than a treasure prompted efforts that culminated in the establishment of the museum – Munshi Aziz Bhat Museum of Central Asian and Kargil Trade Artifacts.

On the classic persuasion of a fortuitous encounter with a researcher, Jaqueline who immediately recognized the value of the contents, the family eventually decide to not only safe-keep the memorabilia, but intensify efforts to house them in a museum in a designated house-space. But for not the intervention and advice of Jaqueline and family elders, the artefacts would have been forever lost as pieces of expensive antiques sitting in a shop. All the artefacts were thus gleaned and curated from the mercantile items found at the Sarai, from family possessions and relics, and donations from local and other interested parties. 

This family-operated, public museum stands in Kargil today, and offers anyone who visits, a rare glimpse into a forgotten era - The Indian and Central Asian trader culture of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The museum stands with a vision to not only preserve the artifacts but also educate the people of Kargil about the rich heritage of its motherland, both tangible and intangible. The museum aspires to be instrumental in creating a sense of belonging and appreciation among Kargil’s youth for their rich cultural past. 

It is hoped that in today’s fast paced life, the museum becomes a place to go back to, and to find the long lost wisdom, learning and inspirations that our ancestors have left behind for us.

The museum doors remain open for everybody all through the week at the Munshi Residence at Lankore, Kargil. It is a must visit for students, families and visitors who are passing by the transit town of Kargil. For more tech savvy visitors, one can browse through the online gallery at www.kargilmuseum.org.

(The author is the Head of Outreach at Munshi Aziz Bhat Museum.) 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Tattooed 2,500 year old Siberian princess 'to be reburied' (2)

The Siberian Times, 21 August 2014




By Anna Liesowska
21 August 2014
Elders in Altai Mountains vote to reinter mummy of ancient woman 'to stop her anger which causes floods and earthquakes'.

'Princess Ukok' mummy in Anokhin museum, Gorno-Altaisk. Picture: Alexander Tyryshkin
Known as 'Princess Ukok' after the plateau where her burial chamber was found by Russian scientists, the archeological discovery of her grave led to a leap in understanding of the Pazyryk people who lived before Christ in this remote mountainous region.
The Siberian Ice Maiden - aged around 25 and preserved in the permafrost at an altitude of around 2,500 metres - was found to have astonishing body artwork seen as the best preserved and most elaborate ancient tattoos anywhere in the world.
From her clothes and possessions including a 'cosmetics bag', scientists were able to recreate her fashion and beauty secrets, as our pictures show.
But local peoples from the Altai Republic, which borders Kazakhstan and Mongolia, have long objected to the fact that her burial mound was disturbed. They were also angered by a decision, after 19 years of academic research into her remains, to put her on display in a glass sarcophagus in a local museum. 
Ancient beliefs say that the mummy's presence in the burial chamber was 'to bar the entrance to the kingdom of the dead'. 
By removing this mummy, also known as Oochy-Bala, the elders contend that 'the entrance remains open'.
'Today, we honour the sacred beliefs of our ancestors like three millennia ago,' said one elder. 'We have been burying people according to Scythian traditions. We want respect for our traditions'.
Tattoed 2,500 year old Siberian princess 'to be reburied to stop her posthumous anger which causes floods and earthquakes'

Tattoed 2,500 year old Siberian princess 'to be reburied to stop her posthumous anger which causes floods and earthquakes'

Tattoed 2,500 year old Siberian princess 'to be reburied to stop her posthumous anger which causes floods and earthquakes'
Scheme of the burial and reconstructions of Pazyryk woman's and man's costumes. All items were found inside 'Princess' Ukok burial. Reconstruction by D. Pozdnyakov, Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Science 
Campaigners including shamans in support of burial said: 'Naked and defenseless, Ooch-Bala is freezing from inexplicable shame'.
A statement stressed: 'Who puts up the naked corpse of their mother for public display? She knocks into our heart, seeking compassion. She is cold from evil indifference.'
Campaigners claimed that recent flooding in Altai - the worst in 50 years - and a series of earthquakes are the result of ancient anger at the grave being disturbed. In a landmark decision, a Council of Elders session on 18 August in regional capital Gorno-Altaisk, and attended by regional head Alexander Berdnikov, voted to reinter the mummy. There was only one dissenter. 
'Because the council of elders took the decision, the mummy of this respected women will finally be buried,' said Akai Kine, a zaisan - or head of the kin - of the Teles ethnic group, participant at the council. 'The next step will be the adoption of a local law, on the basis of which it will happen. Another important step will be the preparation of clothing, utensils, and approval of the ritual burial.' 
The aim will be to bury her in the appropriate manner though details remain sketchy. 
Tattoed 2,500 year old Siberian princess 'to be reburied to stop her posthumous anger which causes floods and earthquakes'

Tattoed 2,500 year old Siberian princess 'to be reburied to stop her posthumous anger which causes floods and earthquakes'

Tattoed 2,500 year old Siberian princess 'to be reburied to stop her posthumous anger which causes floods and earthquakes'

Tattoed 2,500 year old Siberian princess 'to be reburied to stop her posthumous anger which causes floods and earthquakes'

Tattoed 2,500 year old Siberian princess 'to be reburied to stop her posthumous anger which causes floods and earthquakes'

Tattoed 2,500 year old Siberian princess 'to be reburied to stop her posthumous anger which causes floods and earthquakes'
The mummy is getting inside a sarcophagus of Anokhin museum, Gorno-Altaisk, under a watchful eye of Irina Salnikova, head of the Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences Museum of Archeology and Ethnography. Pictures: Alexander Tyryshkin
The regional government, while stating the matter was unprecedented, acknowledged that the reburial will now in all probability go ahead, though it remains to be seen how the federal authorities in Russia will react to the decision. 
Oksana Yeremeeva, head of information and public affairs for the Altai Republic, said: 'It is correct the Council of Elders took such a decision, but can you for example bury some vase from Hermitage Museum? Of course not. The mummy, though it can sound quite rude, is still a museum exhibit, that is we cannot just bury it, no-one has done such things before.'
She added: 'The decision of Council of Elders is very respectable, but we cannot implement it immediately. We as officials should work out the way to implement it, think about the steps we need to take to make it possible.'
Asked if ultimately the aim was to implement the elders' wishes, she said:  'Yes, we are working on this now.'
She suggested that possibly Ukok mummy could be buried at a museum dedicated to her. In ancient times the princess had been buried on the Ukok Plateau.
'At the moment we need to do a lot of work in this direction,' Oksana Yeremeeva said. 
Tattoed 2,500 year old Siberian princess 'to be reburied to stop her posthumous anger which causes floods and earthquakes'

Tattoed 2,500 year old Siberian princess 'to be reburied to stop her posthumous anger which causes floods and earthquakes'
A sculptor's impression of how Princess Ukok looked 2,500 years ago, and a view of Ukok Plateau. Pictures: The Siberian Times
Andrey Belyaev, deputy Minister of Culture in the Altai Republic, said: 'At the moment we did not get any instructions on this.'
A complicating factor might be plans by Gazprom to locate a huge gas pipeline supplying China through this mountainous region. Experts have also pointed out that despite the strong feeling among native groups to Altai, the mummy is not believed to be genetically linked to people now living in the region. 
The mummy was excavated by Novosibirsk scientist Natalia Polosmak in 1993 and was seen as 'one of the most significant archeological discoveries at the close of the 20th century', reported Itar-Tass.
She is now kept at the Republican National Museum in capital Gorno-Altaisk but is not currently on display in a specially built glass sarcophagus.  
For the past 19 years, since her discovery, she was kept mainly at a scientific institute in Novosibirsk, apart from a period in Moscow when her remains were treated by the same scientists who preserve the body of Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin. 
Buried around her were six horses, saddled and bridled, her spiritual escorts to the next world, and a symbol of her evident status, perhaps more likely a revered folk tale narrator, a healer or a holy woman than an ice princess.
There, too, was a meal of sheep and horse meat and ornaments made from felt, wood, bronze and gold.  And a small container of cannabis, say some accounts, along with a stone plate on which were the burned seeds of coriander. 
'Compared to all tattoos found by archeologists around the world, those on the mummies of the Pazyryk people are the most complicated, and the most beautiful,' said Dr Polosmak. 'More ancient tattoos have been found, like the Ice Man found in the Alps - but he only had lines, not the perfect and highly artistic images one can see on the bodies of the Pazyryks'. 
'It is a phenomenal level of tattoo art. Incredible’.
Tattoed 2,500 year old Siberian princess 'to be reburied to stop her posthumous anger which causes floods and earthquakes'

Tattoed 2,500 year old Siberian princess 'to be reburied to stop her posthumous anger which causes floods and earthquakes'

Tattoed 2,500 year old Siberian princess 'to be reburied to stop her posthumous anger which causes floods and earthquakes'

Tattoed 2,500 year old Siberian princess 'to be reburied to stop her posthumous anger which causes floods and earthquakes'
Pictures and reconstruction of the 'Princess''s and other Pazyryks tattooes discovered on the same plateau as the 'Princess'.  The drawings made by Elena Shumakova, Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Science 
The lone voice against the move in the Council of Elders was Boris Alushkin, former El Bashchi (Public Leader) of the Altai people, currently head of the Regional Union of Journalists.
'I know the traditions and beliefs of Altai people,' he said.  'Like any other people they believe that the deceased have to be buried, including those who were great leaders. But the Altai region government allowed the archeological works. They knew about this very rare find and they took it back after all necessary scientific works. 
'Moreover, they found money to build a museum in which to place the princess with great ceremonies. And after very little time this question is raised again, in the middle of an election campaign in the Republic. My position is that we may consider burying the princess, but we must not hurry with the decision right now'.

Mummified by accident in copper masks almost 1,000 years ago: but who were they?


Academics restart work to unlock secrets of mystery medieval civilization with links to Persia on edge of the Siberian Arctic.
A red-haired man was found, protected from chest to foot by copper plating. Picture: Kate Baklitskaya, Go East
The 34 shallow graves excavated by archeologists at Zeleniy Yar throw up many more questions than answers. But one thing seems clear: this remote spot, 29 km shy of the Arctic Circle, was a trading crossroads of some importance around one millennium ago. 
The medieval necropolis include 11 bodies with shattered or missing skulls, and smashed skeletons. Five mummies were found to be shrouded in copper, while also elaborately covered in reindeer, beaver, wolverine or bear fur. Among the graves is just one female, a child, her face masked by copper plates. There are no adult women.  
Nearby were found three copper masked infant mummies - all males. They were bound in four or five copper hoops, several centimeters wide.
Similarly, a red-haired man was found, protected from chest to foot by copper plating. In his resting place, was an iron hatchet, furs, and a head buckle made of bronze depicting a bear.
The feet of the deceased are all pointing towards the Gorny Poluy River, a fact which is seen as having religious significance. The burial rituals are unknown to experts.
mummified by accident - but who were they? mummies found in Salekhard

mummified by accident, but who were these people?

Child mummy with the facial copper mask

Mummified hand of a child
Five mummies were found shrouded in copper, while also elaborately covered in reindeer, beaver, wolverine or bear fur. Pictures: The SIberian Times, Natalya Fyodorova
Artifacts included bronze bowls originating in Persia, some 3,700 miles to the south-west, dating from the tenth or eleventh centuries. One of the burials dates to 1282, according to a study of tree rings, while others are believed to be older. 
The researchers found by one of the adult mummies an iron combat knife, silver medallion and a bronze bird figurine. These are understood to date from the seventh to the ninth centuries. 
Unlike other burial sites in Siberia, for example in the permafrost of the Altai Mountains, or those of the Egyptian pharaohs, the purpose did not seem to be to mummify the remains, hence the claim that their preservation until modern times was an accident.
The soil in this spot is sandy and not permanently frozen.A combination of the use of copper, which prevented oxidation, and a sinking of the temperature in the 14th century, is behind the good condition of the remains today. 
mummified by accident, but who were these people?

mummified by accident, but who were these people?

mummified by accident, but who were these people?
Belt buckle, fragments of the belt, bracelet and silver decorations researchers found inside the burials. Pictures: Natalya Fyodorova
Natalia Fyodorova, of the Ural branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said: 'Nowhere in the world are there so many mummified remains found outside the permafrost or the marshes. 
'It is a unique archaeological site. We are pioneers in everything from taking away the object of sandy soil (which has not been done previously) and ending with the possibility of further research.'
In 2002, archeologists were forced to halt work at the site due to objections by locals on the Yamal peninsula, a land of reindeer and energy riches known to locals as 'the end of the earth'.
The experts were disturbing the souls of their ancestors, they feared. However, work is underway again, including a genetic study of the remains headed by Alexander Pilipenko, research fellow of Institute of Cytology and Genetics, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. 
Face of mummified adult man
Mummy of adult man
'Nowhere in the world are there so many mummified remains found outside the permafrost or the marshes'. Pictures: Kate Baklitskaya, Go East
Fyodorova suggests that the smashing of the skulls may have been done soon after death 'to render protection from mysterious spells believed to emanate from the deceased'.
With work underway again, archeologists hope for clearer answers.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Mystery Along the Silk Road: The Discovery of the Black City of Khara Khoto



In this Therese Schoofs Memorial Lecture, Asian Art Museum Docent, Julia Verzhbinsky, discusses the discovery of the "black city" of Khara Khoto.

January 10, 2014 Asian Art Museum of San Francisco

The Lure of Gold and Iron: China and the Steppe in the First Millennium BC

From: Institute for the Study of the Ancient World/ New York University


Eighth Annual Leon Levy Lecture Sponsored by The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation

Add to Your Calendar:
RSVP: isaw@nyu.edu
06 November 2014, 06:00 PM
2nd Floor Lecture Hall
Lecture Event
Jessica Rawson (University of Oxford)
image title
Chariot fitting from a Xiongnu tomb, 2nd -1st century BC in Mongolia. Photo courtesy of Jessica Rawson.
While ancient Chinese ritual implements were made of bronze and jade, the peoples of the steppe favoured gold and iron, most especially from 700 BC. The talk will discuss cultural boundaries between the Chinese and their steppe neighbours. Major archaeological discoveries at Majiayuan in Gansu province, where large tombs have been excavated, have enabled a reassessment of the ways in which these two groups interacted; there the occupants, outsiders with links to the steppe, were decked in gold, silver and beads; they carried iron weapons and were accompanied into the afterlife by chariots and horse and cattle heads. Such groups introduced gold and iron to the Chinese of the Central Plains, who took over these materials, but used them in new ways. The Chinese did not favour solid gold, but gilded their bronzes vessels and luxurious bronze chariot parts; iron they cast, rather than working it cold, as their neighbours did. This major technological innovation, used for tools in particular, encouraged the opening up of new lands for agriculture. As they had before, over many centuries, the Chinese and their northern neighbours remained distinct and separate.
Seating is limited, registration required to isaw@nyu.edu
Jessica Rawson is Professor of Chinese Art and Archaeology in the Oxford Centre for Asian Archaeology Art and Culture in the School of Archaeology, University of Oxford. She graduated from Cambridge University in History and from London University in Chinese Language and Literature. She became Deputy Keeper of the Department of Oriental Antiquities in 1976 and Keeper of the Department in 1987. Prior to her current position, she was Warden of Merton College, Oxford University 1994-2010.
Profesor Rawson was appointed a Fellow of the British Academy in 1990 and elected a member the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2012. She is an Advisor to the Centre of Ancient Civilisations, Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Science.
Her current work concerns major changes in Chinese material culture as a consequences of interactions with Siberia and Inner Asia in the Zhou, Qin and Han period (1000BC – AD200) and she has also written extensively on Tang dynasty (AD 618 – 906) silver and ceramics, and especially on Chinese ornament and design. She currently holds a five year (2011-2016) Leverhulme Trust grant on China and Inner Asia, 1000-200 BC: Interactions that Changed China.
Reception to follow
Event is open to the public

Mighty Siberian hero warrior reveals his secrets from almost 1,000 years ago

From: The Siberian Times   25 August 2014

By Ksenia Lugovskaya


First exclusive pictures inside the grave of 'giant' warlord horseman who held sway in the 11th century but lost his left arm in his final battle.
'A milestone discovery'. Picture: Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, Siberian branch of Russian Academy of Sciences
The remains of the fearsome warrior - who towered some 25 centimetres over his peers - were unearthed by archeologists near Omsk in an ancient burial mound. Experts are intrigued by his death mask and the elaborate nature of his grave which indicates his importance.
Nicknamed 'Bogatyr' or 'Great Warrior', he is believed to have been trained in combat since childhood. He was buried with the massive fang of a bear embedded in his nose, seen as a sign of his strength and power. 
A decorated mirror - a bronze plate - lay on his chest, inside a birch bark cover. The mirror was evidently a tool to communicate with the gods.
In the grave, too, were 25 war arrows - which are still sharp today - and bronze tools. 
Archeologist Mikhail Korusenko who led the expedition to the Muromtsevsky district of Omsk region told The Siberian Times the find came as his team were about to complete fifth season of work.
'We had almost finished our research and suddenly this warrior decided to meet with us,' he said, calling the discovery a 'milestone' and a 'sensational find'.
The pictures of the skeleton, shown here, were taken at the burial site. The image shows how archeologists believe warriors such as this 'Bogatyr' looked at this time. His death mask originally comprising fabric included caskets made of birch bark covering the eye sockets and mouth.
Inside the caskets were metal figurines of fish with their heads broken off. 
By his feet lay a bronze cauldron with the remains of food to nourish him in the afterlife.
Mighty Siberian hero warrior reveals his secrets from almost 1,000 years ago
The death mask, with number 4 marking the bear's fang, and numbers 2 and 4 showing metal fish figurines with broken-off heads that were covering the warrior's eye sockets. Picture: Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, Siberian branch of Russian Academy of Sciences
Close by were remains of leather and fur, perhaps part of his costume or from the quiver decorations on his arrows.
'We found 25 arrowheads - armour-piercing and diamond shaped, made from metal and bone,' said the academic, a candidate of historical sciences, from the Omsk branch of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
'Some of them were clearly of military purpose. Behind his skull we found a ringed bridle' - a sign that the warrior was an accomplished horseman.  
'It is interesting  that the fish figures were cast as one, and then broken in two. It was an intentional action, definitely. Perhaps, it had some religious importance. Then, next to his nose was the fang of big predator, a bear, this beast being traditionally associated with strength, power and warriors.' 
'Our warrior was killed in the battle. His left arm was severed in battle and placed near the body, and his shoulder was broken. But he was buried according to ritual which means he was a respected person. All the elements of the ritual give us an opportunity to discover historical and political conditions of the epoch the warrior lived in'.
The pictures of the skeleton, shown here, were taken at the burial site. The image shows how archeologists believe warriors such as this 'Bogatyr' looked at this time. His death mask originally comprising fabric included caskets made of birch bark covering the eye sockets and mouth.  Inside the caskets were metal figurines of fish with their heads broken off.   By his feet lay a bronze cauldron with the remains of food to nourish him in the afterlife.

Mighty Siberian hero warrior reveals his secrets from almost 1,000 years ago

Mighty Siberian hero warrior reveals his secrets from almost 1,000 years ago
Warrior’s burial clearly shows his left wrist chopped off; number 1 marks the bridle, numbers 2-5 are the details of the death facial mask, number 7 is a bronze mirror, 10-11 mark bronze cauldron and arrowheads. Below is a reconstruction of how a warrior of that culture and period of time looked like, made by A. Soloviev. Other pictures: Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, Siberian branch of Russian Academy of Sciences
He is believed to have been around the age of 40 when he died, and was a member of the indigenous Khanty and Mansi peoples, though at 180 cm in height was significantly taller than most Siberian natives of this period. 
'There was a mirror on his chest, made as a metal plate. Usually such mirrors were worn as amulets, as a tool to communicate with gods. 
'I am doubtful he was a shaman himself. Rather he was very important man. We called him 'Bogatyr' (great warrior), and there is a connection with folklore. 
'This man belonged to the tribes that were the ancestors of modern Khanty and Mansi peoples; usually small, these tribes had to protect their borders and often had few men of outstanding physical condition. Our man was about 180 cm tall, which was very tall for those times. 
Mighty Siberian hero warrior reveals his secrets from almost 1,000 years ago
Bronze mirror was found on the warrior's chest. Picture: Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, Siberian branch of Russian Academy of Sciences
The items found in the grave, and the remains of his lower arm and hand buried with the rest of the corpse, but severed from it, indicate this Siberian hero perished in battle.
'There is no doubt that the burial belonged to Ust-Ishim culture, the historical ancestors of modern Khanty and Mansi people,' Mikhail Korusenko said. 
'The first studies we made allow us to date the burial to approximately 11th-12th centuries AD. It is a truly unique find which would allow us to fill pages about not only the cultural, but the military history of this part of the region, as we know very little about this particular period of time.'

Excavations in the Bukhara Oasis, Uzbekistan

by Sören Stark — Aug 25, 2014
Summer Fieldwork: Sören Stark on Excavations in the Bukhara Oasis, Uzbekistan
4th century CE tower during excavation
ISAW’s project investigating the Ancient and Medieval defense system of the Bukhara oasis, directed by Sören Stark, began its 2014 field season on June 30th (in cooperation with the Uzbek Academy of Sciences). Apart from members of the ISAW community, our team consists of specialists from Uzbekistan, Germany and Russia.
This year we started excavating a new site (today called Adzhvandi-tepa) at the eastern fringes of the oasis. As a fortified border town, it caught our attention prior to excavation because of its circular citadel, which is unique in the region. So far we have exposed a substantial 5th century CE outer ring of fortifications in an excellent state of preservation, with rectangular towers at regular intervals, and a checkerboard pattern of arrow slits spread over the entire façade. As we continued to excavate we were surprised to find that an inner ring of towers had preceded this outer ring of fortifications, anticipating most architectural features of the outer ring wall, but—according to the associated ceramic material—dating to the 4th century CE. The fortifications of this older phase also appear to be in an excellent state of preservation, making them one of the best-preserved 4th century fortifications in this part of Central Asia. The site appears to have great potential to substantially improve our knowledge of one of the most enigmatic periods in the history of Western Central Asia: the transitional era between Antiquity and the early Middle Ages that witnessed substantial upheaval and change over the course of the ‘Hunnic invasions’ into Sogdiana.
In order to complement stationary excavations at Adzhvandi-tepa we also initiated an UAV based aerial survey this year, conducted by the team of the Archaeocopter project team at the University of Applied Sciences, Dresden—one of the first of its kind in this part of Central Asia. During the course of our survey we documented a total of 12 border fortresses (plus the famous 11th century mosque at Degaron), resulting in detailed 3-D models for each of them.

What historical secrets lie hidden within sunken ships around Japan?

From: The Yomiuri Shimbun August 25, 2014

Surveying and exploring sunken ships on the seafloor off Japan’s coasts could reveal new historical facts and information. We think more efforts should be made to research such underwater wrecks and sites.
About 500 such sites have been confirmed in Japanese waters.
On the seabed off Matsuura, Nagasaki Prefecture, lie the remains of a military vessel thought to have sunk during the Mongolian invasions of Japan in the 13th century. It was discovered three years ago by a research group from the University of the Ryukyus. Items including spherical fragmentation bombs, which were drawn as “tetsuhau” (grenades) in “Moko Shurai Ekotoba,” illustrated narratives of the Mongolian invasions, were found at the site and recovered.
The sea area near this site is home to what is known as the Takashima Kozaki site. This was the first submerged site in Japan to be registered as a national historic site. Furthermore, underwater exploration of the area was conducted this summer.
The Cultural Affairs Agency plans to use the achievements and results of this research in future surveys of underwater ruins and sites. It has launched an exploratory committee of scholars to oversee this task. We have high hopes that there are outstanding developments in store.
The Seto Inland Sea is the final resting place for the Iroha Maru, the ship carrying Sakamoto Ryoma that collided with a ship run by the feudal Kishu domain during the final days of the Tokugawa shogunate. Furnishings thought to have been used in the ship’s cabins have already been retrieved from the site.
Chinese ceramics from about the 13th century have been found in the sea near Ojikajima island, which is one of the Goto Islands that are part of Nagasaki Prefecture and have served as key traffic lane on the sea route to China from ancient times.
Despite such examples of the historically significant items under the sea, in actuality most submerged sites around Japan have been left untouched.
Funding main problem
Underwater archaeology is the study of sunken ships and ancient cities that have sunk below the surface of the sea, a field that can provide insight into the levels of craftsmen’s skills and technology, as well as into people’s ways of life at the time. Since the end of World War II, this discipline has mostly developed in Europe and the United States.
In recent years, advances in sonar, remotely controlled cameras and other technologies have helped researchers learn even more about what lies under the sea. Japan lags behind many other countries when it comes to underwater archaeology and needs to strengthen its foundation in the field.
The greatest obstacle to this is funding. Surveying underwater reportedly costs about 10 times as much as examining ruins on land, so finding the cash for such projects is daunting. In many cases, local governments and research institutes play a central role in conducting such surveys.
However, underwater surveys can, on occasion, run up bills of hundreds of millions of yen. Such exorbitant costs have probably given organizers of many potential projects cold feet. To conduct surveys of ruins with historical value, financial support from the central government is essential.
Japan also will need to nurture more underwater archaeology experts.
Japan is a member of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. The convention states for objects of an archaeological and historical nature “particular regard” will be “paid to the preferential rights of the State or country of origin, or the State of cultural origin.” There will likely be cases in which the examination of foreign ships that sank in waters near Japan will require coordination with the nation from which the ship came.
The first task for the government will be sorting out and examining the various issues involved in the survey of underwater wrecks.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 25, 2014)

See for more information about the recovery of items from the seabed of the Mongol invasion of japan, this article from 2011 in the Daily Mail:

Divers find 13th century wreck from Kublai Khan's Mongol invasion fleet that was destroyed by 'divine' typhoon

  • Japanese legend claims two 'divine winds', known as The Kamikaze, destroyed Mongol invasion fleets
  • Hundreds of vessels were destroyed by two separate typhoons off the coast of Japan
  • Defeat for Kublai Khan halted the expansion of the Mongol empire in the Far East
  • 36ft section of keel discovered under seabed using ultrasound equipment
  • 4,000 artefacts including cannonballs and stone anchors also found
By WIL LONGBOTTOM

Marine archaeologists say they have uncovered a wreck from one of Kublai Khan's 13th century Mongol invasion fleets just yards off the coast of Japan.
Scientists are hoping to be able to recreate a complete Yuan Dynasty vessel after the discovery of a 36ft-long section of keel just below the seabed off Nagasaki.
Japanese legend claims that two 'divine winds', known as The Kamikaze, destroyed both of Kublai Khan's vast invasion fleets with the loss of thousands of troops.
Watery grave: Marine archaeologists have found a 36ft-long section of keel from Kublai Kahn's Mongol invasion fleet which sank off the coast of Japan in a typhoon in the 13th century
Watery grave: Marine archaeologists have found a 36ft-long section of keel from Kublai Khan's Mongol invasion fleet which sank off the coast of Japan in a typhoon in the 13th century
Historic: Kublai Khan launched to attempts to invade Japan from Korea, but both fleets were ravaged by typhoons known as 'The Kamikaze' - or 'divine wind'
Historic: Kublai Khan launched to attempts to invade Japan from Korea, but both fleets were ravaged by typhoons known as 'The Kamikaze' - or 'divine wind'
Using ultrasound equipment, scientists found the well-preserved wreck 3ft below the seabed and it is the first from the period to have an intact hull.
Yoshifumi Ikea, a professor of archaeology at Okinawa's University of the Ryukyus, said the keel section could help remodel the 60ft warship.
He said: 'This discovery was of major importance for our research.
'We are planning to expand search efforts and find further information that can help us restore the whole ship.
'I believe we will be able to understand more about shipbuilding skills at the time as well as the actual situation of exchanges in East Asia.'
Artefacts: Cannonballs and stone anchors are among thousands of items found around the shipwreck off the coast near Nagasaki
Artefacts: Cannonballs and stone anchors are among thousands of items found around the shipwreck off the coast near Nagasaki
Doomed: Thousands of Mongol, Korean and Chinese troops drowned or were slaughtered by Japanese samurai after the failed invasion attempts in 1274 and 1281
Doomed: Thousands of Mongol, Korean and Chinese troops drowned or were slaughtered by Japanese samurai after the failed invasion attempts in 1274 and 1281
Empire: Scientists used ultrasound to find the shipwreck three feet below the sea bed
Empire: Scientists used ultrasound to find the shipwreck three feet below the sea bed, where it has remained remarkably well preserved
More than 4,000 artefacts, including ceramic shards, ballast bricks, cannonballs and stone anchors have been found around the wreck, CNN reported.
The hull will not be immediately salvaged, but the site will be covered with netting to prevent damage.
The Kamikaze - two powerful typhoons that struck seven years apart - halted the Mongol expansion in the Far East.
Historians say both attempts by the Yuan Dynasty to invade Japan ended in disaster.
Thwarted: Kublai Khan established the Yuan Dynasty in 1271 after removing opposition in the south of China and the Mongol empire spread from Europe to the China coast at its height
Thwarted: Kublai Khan established the Yuan Dynasty in 1271 after removing opposition in the south of China and the Mongol empire, in blue, spread from Europe to the China coast at its height
Invasion force: Both fleets contained tens of thousands of well-armed troops who had initial success against Japanese samurai, but the typhoons devastated them
Invasion force: Both fleets contained tens of thousands of well-armed troops who had initial success against Japanese samurai, but the typhoons devastated them
Armada: 900 ships sailed to Japan in the first invasion, and two forces of 4,400 ships took part in the second failed invasion
Armada: 900 ships sailed to Japan in the first invasion, and two forces of 4,400 ships took part in the second failed invasion
The first, in 1274, saw a fleet of reportedly 900 ships land at Hakata Bay and troops made initial inroads into Japan with their superior weaponry.
But as a storm arrived, the Yuan force was forced to retreat back to their ships after the Battle of Bun'ei and it worsened into a typhoon which destroyed much of the fleet overnight, forcing the rest to limp back to Korea.
In 1281, two separate forces of 900 and 3,500 ships carrying nearly 150,000 troops attempted another invasion.
Initially, the Korean, Chinese and Mongol troops captured the islands of Iki and Tsushima, but they were thwarted by improved seawall defences on the the Japanese mainland.

AMBITIONS THWARTED: THE NATION KUBLAI KAHN COULD NOT CONQUER

Vision: Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Kahn, united China under his rule and also led invasions into Vietnam before his death at the impressive age of 78
Vision: Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, united China under his rule and also led invasions into Vietnam before his death at the impressive age of 78
Kublai Khan was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the grandson of Genghis Kahn.
His forces established the Yuan Dynasty in 1271, setting up a capital near what is now Beijing, and he became Emperor of China.
By 1279, he had removed all resistance from the Southern Song Dynasty and became the first non-Chinese Emperor to conquer all of China.
After the heavy defeats and the deaths of his wife and son, he became grossly overweight and suffered from gout and diabetes.
He died on February 18, 1294, at the age of 78 having handed over control of the Yuan empire to his son.
Among his achievements was the introduction of paper currency in the Yuan empire. He also staged invasions in the north of Vietnam.
Marco Polo's life story includes mentions of Kublai Khan, after he met him as a teenager travelling with his father.
He was also mentioned in the 1797 poem Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in which he refers to his theoretical idea of building a 'Pleasure Dome'.
At the height of its power, the Mongol empire extended from Eastern Europe, through Russia, Persia and on into Asia to include Mongolia, China and down into Vietnam.
A second typhoon then hit the Tsushima Straits, destroying around 80 per cent of the fleet and seeing thousands of Kublai Khan's troops drowned or slaughtered by samurai as they managed to make landfall.
Kublai Khan is widely believed to have rushed to assemble his enormous fleets in under a year - particularly in the second invasion - forcing shipbuilders to use river boats that were not suitable for the sea.
He is even thought to have vowed to carry out a third invasion before his death at the impressive age of 78.
Invasion route: Both fleets set off from Korea with thousands of troops on board for the 110-mile journey between Masan and the Japan coast
Invasion route: Both fleets set off from Korea with thousands of troops on board for the 110-mile journey between Masan and the Japan coast