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Okunev Culture (Ancient Siberia in detail)

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  Quote pytheas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Okunev Culture (Ancient Siberia in detail)
    Posted: 05-Jan-2005 at 12:18

For those of you that glanced over my other thread about ancient Siberia, I found details on at least one of the cultures I wanted to discuss.  After reading this though, some may want to move this thread to Central Asia/Steppes Forum, but since geography is all relative, I thought it still appropriate here....

 

 

Archaeological culture: Okunev Culture

For the Okunev Culture we have very little information.  This culture is from a village in the upper Yenissei Valley and is not distributed over a broad area.  The pottery of the Okunev Culture is similar to the Andronovo Culture and the bronzes are more like the Andronovo Culture than the Karasuk Culture. 

 

Burials of the Okunev Culture are similar to the Karasuk with stones covering the coffin; however, these stones are engraved in a fashion similar to independent stones found in the upper Yenissei Valley. These independent stones are on occasion located close to kurgans and at other times found independently.  These stones are very large; some are carved with realistic faces; some with rays on their heads; some are dressed in the female costumes worn by modern Turkic tribes.

Description: Monuments of Okunev culture: enclosures with ritual inhumations in stone boxes, joint burial grounds, settlements, mountain fortresses, and also petroglyths and stone statues have been spread over Minusinsk hollow; settlements and burial grounds with ritual inhumations under the stone heaps have been found in Tuva. The complete set of objects of this culture embraces bronze knives, an axe, a lance, stone arrow-and-lance heads and bone harpoons, ceramicware ornamented over the surface of the vessels including bottoms, stone sculptures of people heads, bone plates representing women heads with coiffures. Statues and petroglyths represent three-eyed zooanthropomorphous masks, fantastic beasts and bulls.

At the end of the III c. BC new people from the west came to the Minusa Basin. They brought with them new religious and ideological ideas. The shape and the appearance of the burial structures began to change.

At the same time Siberian tribes with ancient, well-developed shaman traditions and specific decorative style (the so-called Angara Baikal style) came from the east. As a result, an absolutely new and unique mix of different cultural traditions appeared in the isolated space of the Minusa Basin. Their successors had not enough space for territorial expansion, so they headed upwards. That was the origin of Okunevo phenomenon.

The people of Okunevo epoch used all the heritage of their forefathers and worked it into vivid new forms. The burial fences took a rectangular shape. For the first time they contained small steles, anticipating the changes that would take place a thousand years later. The most outstanding burial monument of that time is the famous Tuim Ring, which shows us the cultural traditions of the north-western Europe. Around a square fence with stone diagonals there is a cromlech made by the menhirs, 84 meters in diameter, dug into the ground, similar to the contemporary cromlechs of the megaliths of England, France and Northern Germany. We can only guess who was buried in the centre of this complex.

 

The skilful use of landscape forms for constructing religious or ceremonial monuments is revealed in all its glory in the building of the most strange and enigmatic structures known nowadays in Khakassia as the mountain fortresses called "Sve". Their walls surround prominent landscape points in the mountains surrounding the valleys. These are cliffs, mountain tops, massive rock outcrops. In some cases the walls radiate from such high points. The walls usually are about 0,5-2 meters in height and were hardly higher in ancient times. Sometimes only small vertical slabs mark the boundaries of a fortress. It is clear that the majority of these structures were worthless for fortification. The hypothesis about the religious purpose of "Sve" is more possible. A splendid panoramic view and the natural beauty of mountains and rocks, towering above the valley, made them a perfect place for performing various rituals. As for the fortresses' walls, nobody knows whether ancient priests and shamans defended themselves from the spirits or from each other. The semi-ring of medieval fortified monasteries to the south and east of lace>Moscowlace> also could hardly stop the hordes of nomadic tribes. It was the other sort of defence - the spiritual defence.

 

And the most outstanding monuments of Okunevo period - the stone statues and steles - clearly show to us, that people living at that time saw and understood a great deal about spirits. Strange and often monstrous figures look at us from the stones with their three eyes. Many of them have horns or sprouts growing from the three-piece mask. They do not have noses: only nostrils and usually an accented mouth. Above the main masks there are two vertical lines, and between them there are smaller masks and some signs. All this composition is crowned with a sheep's head or with an additional mask. Below the main central mask, the chest and the belly are often depicted, converting into the snout of a beast, if you take a side view. Usually on the chest or on the side of the mask there are circles with four sprouts. Often the "third eye" in the centre of the forehead has the same pattern.

 

Who are these monsters? There are many possibilities, but no current hypothesis. The author himself supposes that we deal with various spiritual creatures, belonging mostly to the lower world. And who these creatures were - gods or demons, or simply spirit-allies - I cannot say right now. Two centuries of research did not clarify the problem of Okunevo images. In addition to steles and statues the majority of the pictures on the rocks and funeral stabs also dates back to Okunevo period. There are not only fantastic creatures here, but also human figures, real animals and carts. You can find realistic female figures on small plastics, although their images are stylised. Okunevo ceramics, being different from Afanasievo ceramics, are less expressive than other pieces of Okunev art. At that time the art of repoussage was in its infancy.

 

It is difficult to overestimate the important role of this period. This land, situated at the crossroads of different cultural worlds, was a perfect field for the creation and the development of different Oriental spiritual streams by priests, shamans and artists. In Okunev art some elements of Indo-Buddhist tradition, Taoism and many kinds of Siberian shamanism were reflected for the first time. Some very important events happened here at those times. There is much speculation about it, but for the time being we will wait for someone who knows, as the ancient said.

 

We do not know what happened with those northern magicians. We can only say that when a new wave of steppe tribes from the west came to ancient Khakassia, they had no contacts with the old inhabitants of those lands, as we can judge from archaeological finds. Okunevo phenomenon fades away by itself leaving only vague legends about happy northern valleys in the culture of Eurasian people. Recently it was proved that antique legends about the Hyperborean land could partly be traced to these very lands.



Edited by pytheas
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  Quote pytheas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jan-2005 at 12:19
 Well that paste job wasn't too hot now was it.  Don't know if the Moderators can fix that or if it's just permanently messed up...
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  Quote pytheas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jan-2005 at 12:41
Okay, nevermind, I was able to sort out the mess, so above is a good description of the Okunev culture.  I'd like to get some response here....
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  Quote Vamun Tianshu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jan-2005 at 20:13
Dude,why are so many of your posts unreplyable?I have a hard time trying to answer what your asking,but I can never ever get it through.Anyway,very enlightening.I was actually trying to answer the question for you in your last post,but I can never find anything on those subjects.

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  Quote pytheas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Jan-2005 at 13:59

Vamun,

I'm not sure what the problem is.  I too have been experienceing trouble posting recently.  I've had to totally log out and close explorer and then log back on sometimes to get AE to work.  We might need some of the technicians to look that over.  I appreciate the response when it does get through though....Also, try copying your reponses before attempting to post.  That way you can sort of save things while you sort through the AE problem....

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  Quote Vamun Tianshu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Jan-2005 at 17:39
Thanks,it must be my computer.Anyway,many of your topics,are very enlightening.I mean that I can learn alot from them,that I have not known before.

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  Quote pytheas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jan-2005 at 01:23

Vamun,

I'm not sure if its your PC, because it happens to mine as well.  And thanks, I always tell my girlfriend that I'm a wealth of useless knowledge.  Most archaeologists and historians out of work right now can join me in that.  

But ah well.  I do have quite a few books here at home on a very wide variety of subjects.  One such book deals with the archaeology of burials, ritual suicide/death.  It's really not as morbid as I'm sure I'm making it sound, but one of the chapters covers the Okunev, Tashtyk, and other ancient Siberian cultures of interest.  I may need to do some scanning to post some of the photos of the burials and may write a little article on the subjects at some point in the near future.  Although my area of experitise is archaeology/history of America, Europe, and Near East.  most of my fieldwork has been either in the UK or US though....

Varmun, what is your background???  And what "useless" knowledge do you possess to better educate the rest of us?



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  Quote pytheas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jan-2005 at 01:27
By the way is that site in your signature new?  It didn't look like there was anyone active in there.  Interesting idea though.  I actually have some writing I've been working on...
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  Quote Vamun Tianshu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Jan-2005 at 22:26

Whoa,oh oh oh..hold on,did ya just say useless knowledge?I know you did..(just kidding).I'm actually spanish,Pytheas.I have much knowledge of history in my head,and I can educate you all with my mystical powers of looking back in time...Woahahaha!!No really,I do have knowledge of many things in my head.And thanks for complimenting on my useless little project called my forum.Its pathetic that I tried,but hey,it can't hurt.I tried to advertise in the Partnership forum thingy,but no one gave me an answer.Thanks for noticing though.

I'm the administrator in that sad forum project.If you have any writing you want to submit there,stop on by..I also need some moderators,you could apply for the job if you like,seeing as no is THERE!!


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  Quote J.M.Finegold Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Jan-2005 at 22:37
I think he was being sarcastic about the 'useless' knowledge..and I'll join your forum... sounds pretty interesting.
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  Quote Vamun Tianshu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Jan-2005 at 22:43
I know he was being sarcastic..I was being sarcastic too..sheesh,can't you guys take jokes?Just kidding..

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  Quote Vamun Tianshu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Jan-2005 at 22:47
Oh,and thank you for joining.

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  Quote J.M.Finegold Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Jan-2005 at 23:24
Pytheas when I copy/pasted my two articles on Sargon and Kadesh the same thing happened... you have to go back and delete each smilie one by one... there's something wrong with the ASP scripting for the copy/pasting.
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  Quote pytheas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Jan-2005 at 00:26
 Hmmm
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  Quote Vamun Tianshu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Jan-2005 at 20:51
Sometimes I try copying and pasting,the stuff always gets distorted,so guess what I do?Write the whole damn thing.

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