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Investigations of a Pazyryk Barrow At Kuturguntas

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image of Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia

In the summer of 1991 excavation was made of the largest barrow of a complex at Kuturguntas in the Bertek hollow of the Altai Highlands. The fairly well-preserved log-roofed construction consisted of an outer burial chamber of blackened roughhewn logs, an inner chamber of worked timber, a sarcophagus made of a single large log, and a storeroom. The coffin and storeroom had been ransacked in antiquity, but surviving grave goods-which include fragments of fur clothing, felt applique, and metal and wooden objects-parallel those found in other Pazyryk graves. Two carved wooden ibex heads had however not been attested among Pazyryk grave goods elsewhere. The wealth of the people buried in such medium-sized barrows lay in the thoroughbred horses buried with them. The burial here of 10 horses had not been disturbed, although only the wooden bridle decorations of the principal 'master's horse' survive well. These again show the popularity of the griffin motif in Pazyryk art. Fragments of three wooden bridle decorations displaying anthropomorphic horned faces probably had a protective function and are linked by the author to the mongoloid Hsiunnu, near neighbours of the Pazyryk people, and to the eclectic receptivity of the Pazyryk people to diverse iconography borrowings from the Middle and Far East.


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