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Abstract: Two Sixth-Century A..D. Glass Chalices from Burial Sites in the Volga-Ural Region

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image of Russian History

The Volga-Ural region, like many others in the territory of Eastern Europe, experienced repeated waves of migrating peoples during the Middle Ages. One result of the migratory process was the appearance in this region of numerous sites, many of which shared significant similarities, belonging to the Imen'kovo and Turbaslino cultures. The ethno-cultural and chronological features of these cultures has remained a point of controversy for quite some time. In recent years, a series of settlements and cemeteries located in Turkestan have been the focus of study. The materials from these sites suggests that their dating was contemporary with the First (Great) Türk Kaghanate and the late Sarmatian period. Many elements of the Turbaslino Imen'kovo cemeteries (Kushnarenkovo, II Kominternovo burial fields, the late burials of the Birska burial fields, among others) are related to the antiquities of the Dzhyetyasarskovo culture of the Aral Sea region. These elements include, but are not limited to, the following: lined pits, the intentional deformation of skulls found in graves, a variety of items of clothing and ornaments (Fig. 2; Fig. 3, 6 - 25, 28, 29; Fig. 4, 1 - 8, 11, 19). Other especially remarkable finds are two chalices of greenish and bluish glass from the Birska and II Kominternovo burial fields (Fig. 1E, 1; Fig. 4, 14; Photos 1 and 2). Their similar sizes, form, and fluted ornamentation would suggest common origin - probably Near Eastern (Syrian?) imports, most likely used originally for administrating communion wine by Christians. The appearance of these finds in the Volga-Ural region is best explained by the migratory process which occurred in the area during the second half of the sixth century A.D. which was connected with the creation of the First Türk Kaghanate.

Affiliations: 1: (Kazan', Russia


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