Friday, December 3

The Golden History of the Saka Warrior People of Kazakhstan Revealed | Archeology

Wisdom, as Bob Marley said, is better than gold. However, starting next month, the precious metal is central to a major new historical exhibition in Cambridge that uses borrowed artifacts that tell the story of a little-known ancient civilization beyond Kazakhstan.

Gold objects unearthed from ancient burial mounds built by the Saka warrior people of central Asia, a culture that flourished from around the 8th century BC. C. until the 3rd century BC. C., will be exhibited at the Fitzwilliam Museum.

The Gold of the Great Steppe exhibition will showcase what the museum described as “an archaeological sensation” on the world stage for the first time: hundreds of prominent gold artifacts recently discovered in ancient burial mounds built by the Saka in eastern Kazakhstan.

One of the burial mounds built by the warrior Saka people in Kazakhstan, where a collection of golden artifacts was unearthed.
One of the burial mounds built by the Saka warriors in Kazakhstan, where a collection of golden artifacts was unearthed. Photograph: Megalara Garuda / PA

Highlights will include a reconstruction of the burial of a teenage archer, showing how golden objects were placed next to him. Many mounds where elites were buried with their horses and treasures were looted, but archaeologists found the display of the archer’s burial intact.

The boy was no more than 18 years old when he died and was buried in the same chamber with a younger relative. The rockslide had protected it from view for 2,500 years. Kazakh archaeologists discovered artifacts there in the last three years.

It was only the second intact Saka burial to be discovered in Kazakhstan, according to the Fitzwilliam, which is the Cambridge University Museum of Art and Antiquities.

The Saka people, known as fierce warriors, thrived in an area of ​​steppe to the west and mountains to the east, but they were also skilled craftsmen who crafted intricate gold and other metalwork.

Luke Syson, the museum’s director, described the loaned artifacts as “incredibly important.” “We look forward to bringing the extraordinary culture of the Saka people to life for our audiences and we are grateful for our partnership with eastern Kazakhstan, without which enlightening exhibitions like these simply would not be possible.”

The exhibition will be based on material from three different funeral complexes in eastern Kazakhstan: Berel, Shilikty and Eleke Sazy.

Daniyal Akhmetov, Governor of the East Kazakhstan region of the Republic of Kazakhstan, said the exhibition would showcase his country’s most outstanding archaeological discovery in recent years, the “golden man” found in one of the mounds of the Eleke cemetery. Sazy, which dates back to the 8th century BC. C.

He said the “exceptional state of preservation” provided new opportunities for scientists to study the “religion, worldview and funeral rites of the early Saka.”

A gold dagger sheath inlaid with turquoise and lapis lazuli
Sheath of a gold dagger inlaid with turquoise and lapis lazuli. Photograph: Amy Jugg / PA

“The Saka have been shown to create truly unique jewelery masterpieces, using advanced technological processes for their time, constructing grandiose and exceptionally complex religious, funeral and memorial monuments,” he said.

“We are confident that the exhibition, and the research conducted around it, will open to the public new pages on the history of both the eastern region of Kazakhstan and all of humanity.”

The exhibition will be open from September 28.

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