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7 June 2013
Science

ISTU archaeologists go on an expedition to the North of Priangarie, to the Trans-Baikal region and Mongolia

Several expeditions will be organized in the summer by ISTU archaeologists. Ethnographic and archaeological researches will be conducted by scientists in the north of Bodaibo district of Irkutsk region. According to the employee of the research laboratory of archeology, paleoecology, and systems of life of the peoples of North Asia, Associate Professor of the subdepartment of History and Philosophy at NI ISTU, Alexey Tetenkin this is the territory of traditional crafts of small northern peoples (Evenki, Yakuty), engaged, in particular, in the reindeer farming.

"For the first time we visited in these places 15 years ago, saw the cemetery of the nomads, the summer houses made of thin larch logs covered with bark, granaries for storage and products, enclosures for deer”, said the scientist. “This year, if we're lucky, we'll meet nomadic herders and begin to learn their way of life."

This expedition will take place in July. A. Tetenkin and the members of the subdepartment of history and philosophy of ISTU, students and postgraduate students will participate in the exhibition.

Another expedition to study people, who lead a nomadic lifestyle, is planned in the second half of June in the North-Baikal Highlands. Scientists will conduct research in remote taiga areas where Evenki lived in the XVIII century and dealt with reindeer herders. The head of the research laboratory "Archaeology, paleoecology and systems of life of the peoples of North Asia” at NI ISTU, professor Artur Kharinskiy, notes that the expedition will take place in the framework of the international project "The Arctic domestification: links between human and animal in the Circumpolar North."

To remind, the project started in July last year under the leadership of the ethnographer and anthropologist, Professor David Anderson of the University of Aberdeen. The purpose of research is to find out, where the first centers domestification were located, how early man learned to create the conditions for the life of the first pets. The project will last for five years, it is being implemented by the scientists from Canada, the U.S., Russia and the Scandinavian countries - Norway, Sweden and Finland. From Russia, except ISTU scientists, scholars from St. Petersburg State University and the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Cabinet of Curiosities), who study the reindeer in the north of the European part of our country, are engaged in research.

In addition to archaeologists, biologists will participate in the expedition to the North-Baikal Highlands. Botanist, Tat’yana Yankovskaya (Irkutsk Agricultural Academy) will examine modern plants, and Palynologist, Elena Bezrukova (Institute of Geochemistry) will try to determine when the herders began to explore this area on balances of pollen. According to A. Kharinskiy, the variety of plants allows determining the economic zones in which a man existed. There will be collected herbarium to confirm the results of tests on spores and pollen.

The scientists plan to conduct research using the drill column with height of one meter and 15 cm in diameter, extracting cylindrical sample of soil. Sawing it centimeter by centimeter, it is possible to obtain data on the species composition of plants that existed in a particular historical period. Systematizing and analyzing the data, the researchers hope to answer the question of when the first deer appear in northern Baikal region.

ISTU students of archeological specialty will also go to the expedition. They will gather information on current herders, try to figure out how nomads organized their economy. In addition to ethnographic studies, they will spend reconstruction and topographic mapping due to planigraphy, make a layout of economic zones.

The archaeologists of ISTU go to Trans-Baikal region in mid-July, where they will continue to explore cemeteries and settlements of the Mongols (13-14 c.). They will visit the burial ground "Okoshki" in the Priargunskiy area and Konduyskiy town in Borzinskiy district of the Trans-Baikal region. These archaeological sites that dated by the same time will help to make a picture of life in the region in the Mongolian period when there was empire, dominated on the big part of Asia.

Student of the Faculty of Cybernetics at ISTU, Fedor Malkov, will hold a pioneering work in the field of prototyping using the method of 3D - scanning in archeology. He will attempt to scan the funerary structure. "We have already made 3D-models of individual things. Now we will try to scan a funeral from different angles and create a model to get full information about the burial," said F. Malkov.

In August, archaeologists continue to work on the study of the swell of Genghis Khan in eastern Mongolia. The construction stretches on the territory of Mongolia, China and Russia. Swell of Genghis Khan was built the X-XI centuries by the people of the Liao Empire, conquered the territory of northern China and took control of Central Asia, as a defense system against invading northern barbarians. Irkutsk archaeologists are conducting for a few years the studies on the swell of Genghis Khan. This year, they come to the final stage of research. The excavation of fortifications should shed light on how they were built, and date more accurately the archeological site.

In addition, work will continue in the Olkhon region, including the excavation of the burial ground in Khuzhir IV (I millennium BC). "There are not much burials of the period. Therefore, each new grave has special information. These studies will help us to expand our scientific horizons ", A. Kharinskiy. The laboratory staff will participate in the expedition, scheduled for the second half of June.

This year, the excavation of sites of ancient metallurgy in Olkhon region, in settlements of Kurma are not planned. The study of the first Baikal metallurgical furnaces will be postponed until the paperwork on the grant by Japanese colleagues from the University of Hokkaido, with whom Irkutsk archaeologists are working on the project.

Natal’ya Rozova

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