The Medieval history of North Kazakhstan is often neglected by historians but the recent archaeological discoveries about the Golden Horde may turn the tides.
The cultural and political center of the Golden Horde, unknown to science, was discovered in the North Kazakhstan region several months ago. Archaeologists claim that the unique artifacts found here can turn the traditional views of historians.
This archaeological site is called Kyzyl Oba which translates as a sacred mound. The Middle Ages period in Northern Kazakhstan is still a poorly studied topic since archaeological research here concerned mainly the Stone and Bronze Ages. Therefore, the recent excavations of the Kyzyl Oba mausoleum have become a sensational discovery for scientists, archaeologists, ethnographers studying the Middle Ages.
Archaeological exploration in the Ualikhanov district of the North Kazakhstan region was carried out in September 2019. Then a section of a brick mausoleum with an area of 100 square meters was opened, an interior room was discovered, which was a fragment of a family tomb.
The floor of the tomb was paved with bricks; the remains of four stepped gravestones were found in the form of the so-called “false vault”. In the crypt, along with the remains of a person, a gold earring resembling a question mark, a pendant with turquoise inserts, and two decorative miniature silver stripes were found.
According to scientists, representatives of the ruling house of the Chingizid from the dynasty of Jochi Khan were buried in the tomb dating back to the middle-second half of the XIV-XV centuries. The presence of seven mausoleums of medieval rulers indicates the location of nomadic headquarters in this area and a previously unknown cultural, political, and sacral center of nomads who inhabited the steppes of Northern Kazakhstan during the era of the Golden Horde.
In June this year, excavations were continued, but due to the pandemic, the work had to be suspended until the fall.
“This landmark object was excavated and investigated – the mausoleum and the ancestral tomb. The finds discovered during the excavations are truly priceless in the archaeological sense. For an archaeologist, a large piece of gold is of less value than a tiny piece of jewelry found in a burial place, because it bears information about the secrets of the Middle Ages “, – said Anatoly Pleshakov.
According to the scientist, he has been working on the excavations since 1968. For him, this is the 52nd field season, but for all these years archaeologists have not received any information about that period.
“In the past, there was an opinion that in the Middle Ages, wild tribes roamed the steppes on the modern territory of Kazakhstan. The artifacts found and the mausoleum itself refute this opinion. Look at this earring, what a delicate work, this is the level of technology in Europe at that time”.
Finds include gold, mirror, and coins from the heyday of the Golden Horde
Director of Margulancentre Timur Smagulov notes that this discovery allows scientists to judge not only the individual features of the funeral rite but also to get large-scale ideas about architecture. After all, only professional architects and builders could create such a structure.
The area of the burial room was 36 square meters while the mausoleum itself must have reached the astonishing 15-20 meters in height. Unfortunately, later in history, the area fell into desolation and the mausoleum must have collapsed.
Researchers claim to have created an accurate 3D model of the excavation site and the mausoleum using satellite technologies. However, excavations and efforts for the preservation of the monument will continue for the years to come.
As for the artifacts discovered, they provide a new outlook on the fashion of that time, the social structure of the society, and the funerary traditions.
As to why archaeologists believe this monument belonged to the Golden Horde, this was evidenced by four silver coins found during the excavations. Analysis has shown that they must have been minted in the city of Sarai, thus, pointing towards the heyday of the Golden Horde.
A Global Discovery
Deputy Akim of the North Kazakhstan region Gani Nygymetov stressed that the archaeological find, without exaggeration, is a unique discovery of a global scale that can turn history.
What he said is that the North Kazakhstan region had cities and advanced civilizations in the 14-15th centuries. He expressed his disappointment that historians have bypassed this territory with their attention but this discovery may fill the blank sports in history.
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• Aidana Yergaliyeva (2020, October 17). Kazakh Archaeologists Discover Artifacts With Potential to Rewrite Entire History of Golden Horde.
• Vlast.kz. (2019, October 02). В СКО обнаружили мавзолей предположительно эпохи Золотой Орды.