The Beginning and the Maturity of Nomadic Powers in the Eurasian Steppes: Growing and Downsizing of Elite Tumuli

in Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia
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Abstract

From 1999 to 2007 Japan-Mongol joint archaeological expedition worked in the Ulaan Uushig site near the city Mörön, Northern Mongolia. The purpose of our survey is to determine the date of the beginning of nomadic powers in the Eurasian steppes. In places where early kingship occurred, various sizes of tombs were often built. The tomb size reflected the social status of the dead. And a powerful “king” built a big tumulus as a symbol of power. However, elite tumuli were abandoned along with the maturity of power structures. We consider that such a phenomenon can also be seen in the Eurasian steppes. For this reason we looked for the earliest tumuli in Mongolia, the heartland of rider nomads, and studied the change of size and structure of nomadic elite tombs.

The Beginning and the Maturity of Nomadic Powers in the Eurasian Steppes: Growing and Downsizing of Elite Tumuli

in Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia

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References

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1

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2

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3

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7

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12

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Figures

  • View in gallery
    Groups I – X around Mt. Ulaan Uushig (Takahama et alii 2006).
  • View in gallery
    The biggest khereksur with round circle and hundreds of stone heaps, Ulaan Uushig V (photo by Hayashi)
  • View in gallery
    Ulaan Uushig I (Takahama et alii 2006).
  • View in gallery
    Deer Stone No. 14 (photo by Hayashi).
  • View in gallery
    Deer Stone No. 14 (Takahama et alii 2006).
  • View in gallery
    Ulaan Uushig I, Kh-1. Kite photo.
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    Ulaan Uushig I, Kh-1. Plan (Takahama et alii 2006).
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    Pottery fragments found in the central mound of Kh-1. Height of reconstructed pottery: ca. 24 cm (photo by Hayashi & Takahama et alii 2006).
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    Deer Stone with large and small circles (photo by Hayashi).
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    Stone cist under the mound of Kh-1 on ground-level. Small but sufficient for a crouched position (photo by Hayashi & Takahama).
  • View in gallery
    Stone heap No. 13 of Kh-1. Horse skull, mandible, neck bones and hooves (photo by Hayashi).
  • View in gallery
    Ulaan Uushig I, Kh-12. Kite photo.
  • View in gallery
    Ulaan Uushig I, Kh-12. Plan (Takahama et alii 2006).
  • View in gallery
    Stone cist, Kh-12 (photo by Hayashi).
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    Bones of a child of 5–6 years age, Kh-12 (photo by Hayashi).
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  • View in gallery
    Deer stone No. 4. H: 240 cm (photo by Hayashi).
  • View in gallery
    Deer stone No. 4. H: 240 cm (Takahama et alii 2006).
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    Stone circle No. 7 of Deer stone No. 4. Horse skull, mandible, neck bones and hooves (photo by Hayashi).
  • View in gallery
    Northern big khereksur, Urt Bulagyn am, Öndör-Ulaan sum, Arkhangay aymak (photo by Hayashi).
  • View in gallery
    Southern big khereksur (Google earth).
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    Northern big khereksur (Allard et alii 2006).
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    Khereksur and deer stone. Dörvöljin am, Shine Ider, Hövsgöl aymak (photo by Hayashi).
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    The deer stone with the stags in the early Scythian style. Dörvöljin am, Shine Ider, Hövsgöl aymak (photo by Hayashi).
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    Early Saka cemetery Bes-shatyr (“Five-tents”), ca. 8th–7th centuries BC, Altyn-emer National Park, Southeast Kazakhstan (Google earth in 2009).
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    The biggest kurgan in Bes-shatyr cemetery. Height: 17 m; Diameter: 100 m (photo by Hayashi in 1992).
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    Plan and section of Bes-shatyr Kurgan No. 3. The mound consisted of stones and soil. The log chamber covered by stones on the original surface was burnt (Akishev & Kushaev 1963).
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    Log of Tianshan spruce, found in Bes-shatyr Kurgan No. 3. 117 cm in height. 8th century BC (Alimbay 2011).
  • View in gallery
    Ul’skiї aul-1 (Minns 1913).
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    Kostromskaya-1 (Il’inskaya & Terenozhkin 1983).
  • View in gallery
    Section of Starshaya Mogila (Il’inskaya & Terenozhkin 1983).
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    Biggest tomb at Il’movaya pad’, Buryatia, 20 m in depth (photo by Hayashi).
  • View in gallery
    Low rectangular mound with ramp at Gol Mod 1, Arhangai, Mongolia (photo by Hayashi).
  • View in gallery
    Change of Size and Structure of Steppe Elite Tumuli

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