Pazyryk Culture

Pazyryk Culture

The [glossary]Pazyryk Culture[/glossary] was featured in an article in the Siberian Times when the archaeological finding of a 2,500 year old tomb yielded the remains of a 25-year old woman with many grave accompaniments.  These grave findings included clothing, jewelry, body art (tattoos), a wig, hair adornment and cosmetics among other things.  The tombs found there display many cultural aspectsof the Pazyrykian people.  That link was posted on Facebook earlier.

The photo above is a “reconstruction of a Pazyryk upper-class woman’s costume. All items were found inside ‘Princess’ Ukok burial. Right, Pazyryk man’s costume. Reconstruction by D. Pozdnyakov, Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Science.”

The Pazyrykians were nomads; A horse culture inhabiting the area known as the Altai Mountains of Siberia, in Russia.  They were travelers and traders in the [glossary]Slavic Global Village[/glossary].  They practiced [glossary]pastoralism[/glossary], raising both sheep and horses and trading throughout the Central Asian caravan routes.  The dwellings of these people are still to be found.

The Pazyrkyk culture and their [glossary]kurgans[/glossary] were first discovered by Sergei Ivanovich Rudenko in 1927.  The Altai Mountains, with extreme cold temperatures and long winters, are not friendly to the unprepared researcher.  However, in 1993, Russian archaeologist, Natalia Polosmak was determined to find the ancient Pazyrkykians and their sacred burial grounds. Like Ivanovich before her she discovered frozen in the ice, within these kurgans, sacrificed horses, mummies, and many other preserved artifacts, including saddles and woolen rugs. Polosmak is best known for her discovery and analysis of the “Ice Maiden,” the 25 year old woman noted above.  Due to her findings, there is much political debate in Russia about the remains.

Much like the indigenous people of the Americas, the Altai people of the area want the remains of the Ice Maiden to be treated according to ancient traditions. These ancient peoples are also associated with another ancient culture known as the [glossary]Scythians[/glossary] (5th century BC), whose cultures are somewhat similar.

There are no written records of the Pazyrkykians except by the Greeks who wrote, “. . . of warriors so fierce they would drink from the skulls of their victims.”  Even without a written language, the tombs of the Pazyrkians reveal much about their culture:  the sacredness of their burials, the objects they paid homage to, their clothing, their saddles, what they ate, how they preserved corpses, wigs that were worn by the elite women, headdresses, tattoos, leather artistry, carvings, makeup worn by the ladies, and warrior attire and sacrificial horses.

The struggles between descendants of ancient and indigenous peoples everywhere, and those who wish to gain scientific information from the bodies of their ancestors are not easily resolved.

Explore More! in Cultural Anthropology and learn about the Global Villages and the people who live in them.



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