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Türkic Nomads and Chorasmia
L.T. Yablonsky
Stock-Breeders of the Ancient Khrezm
(Archaeology and phisical anthropology of the cemeteries)
Russian Academy Of Sciensis Institute Of Archaeology
Bulletin of Russian Humanities Foundation, 1999, Issues 1-2, Page 198

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Foreword

Extensive studies of archeological and anthropological remains, performed in the 1940's-1980's around Aral Sea area and along the Amudarya, demonstrated that the oases of the Middle Asia were populated by the Türkic pastoralists for nearly as far back as the pastoral economy existed. Moreover, in the Khrezm area, the sedentary agricultural people were the same people that came to Khrezm as nomadic pastoralists in search for good pastures and water. The archeological discoveries completely dispel the notion conjured up sometime in the 20th c. about the Middle Asia being a second home of the Indo-Iranians, in their trek from the N.Pontic to Persia and India. The faulty paradigm must be reconstituted to address a question of when and how the Indo-Iranians reached Middle Asia, and established their own agricultural colonies among the pastoral and settled people that had their origin in the eastern part of the steppe belt, and who carried from their previous homeland their mixed Caucasoid-Mongoloid morphology notable for its robust character, way different from their slim Indo-Iranian counterparts. As a comical sideline, an ongoing definition in the propaganda of some Middle Eastern scholars is that "Turanoid race, or Turko-Tatar race, is a sub-species of the Caucasoid race, it is the only Caucasoid sub-species that is partially interbred with the Mongoloid race". Applying that definition to the Khrezmian physical anthropology, the mainstream Khrezmians, with all the changes they experienced over 3 millennia, were always Turanoids. Etymological studies of Sh.Kamoliddin in Ancient Türkic toponymy are very helpful in elucidating and  visualizing the numerous different people that lived in the Chorasmia through the millennia.

One of the interesting moments that are not specifically addressed in the work is the emigration of the Tochars, Herodotus' Dahae, Caucasian Digors, from the Caspian/Aral mesopotamia, first to the Iranian Plateau, and then to the Near East Mesopotamia, to establish the Parthian Empire. These Tochars appear to be independent of the As tribes, and their emigration in the 3rd c. BC preceded the Yuezhi Tochars arrival in the Aral area by about a century. The Eastern Tochars must have differed from their western kinfolk, because of their exposure to the cultures of the Central Asia, their local conjugal partners in the Central Asia, their implements of the Central Asian manufacture. Somewhere, among the monuments analyzed by L.T. Yablonsky, are lurking kurgans and settlements left by that famous nomadic tribe.

L.T. Yablonsky
Stock-Breeders of the Ancient Khrezm
(Archaeology and physical anthropology of the cemeteries)

 
Introduction
New era in the study of the Southern Aral Sea archeology, ethnogenesis, and ethnic history of ancient and modern peoples of that region is associated with the name of S.P.Tolstov. He has accomplished exceptionally much in order to transfer the archeology and anthropology of Middle Asia and Kazakhstan from a level of local studies to the vast fields of global ethnohistorical and ethnogenetical processes that once affected the Northern Eurasia. Having organized and led a comprehensive Khorezm archaeological-ethnographic expedition, he became a founder the scientific archeology in this, as it turned out, cardinal for the understanding of the global historical processes, historical and cultural region. With the name of S.P.Tolstov are connected the first and most important discoveries in the field of the Saka, Kangar, Yuezhi-Kushan, Chionite-Ephtalite thought. One of the central themes in his works were questions related to the history of relations between the population of the settled, agricultural areas and their cattle periphery (Tolstoy, 1948a, b) .

That line of work of the outstanding scientist was continued by a splendid cohort of his students and followers, the first of whom became A.I.Terenojkin, Ya.G.Gulyamov, S.A.Ershov (more about that see: Itina, 1997).

The 1950's may be conditionally defined as a forming period of the Khorezm scientific school of archeology. That period was noted by formulation and execution of the now extensive and intensive research on a number of  sites of different periods, which become a foundation for the development of the main historical perspective of the region. The main outcome of that phase was summed by S.P.Tolstov in his regular retrospect monograph (1962).

The 1960's-1970's were marked by major archaeological discoveries that brought the expedition a deserved world fame. These were the mausoleums in the Northern Tagisken and Saka burials in the Southern Tagisken and Uigarak in the Lower Syr Darya, a discovery of the Chirik-Rabat culture monuments, the first excavations of Djetyasar type ancient fortresses.

The specifics of the history of the ancient inhabitants of the Southern Aral Sea region is that even conditionally it can not be divided into archeology of farming and archeology of nomadic pastoralists. The historical fates of the pastoralists and farmers were always intimately intertwined there. The new archeological discoveries of the palaces, settlements, castles, temples, and fortresses always led to a new understanding of a cultural specificity and chronological attribution of the different pastoral groups in the Khorezm territory.

Such are the fundamental development of the chronological scale for the Khorezm monuments performed on the foundation of rich ceramic material (Vorobiev, 1955,1958,1959; Nerazik, 1959, 1966, 1981),  the excavations of Kuyusai culture settlements (Weinberg, 1979a), Kyuzel-gyr (Vishnevskaya, Rapoport, 1997), Dingildje (Vorobiev, 1973), Koy-Krylgan-Kala (Koy-Krylgan. .., 1967), fortresses Kalala-gyr1 (Lapirov-Skoblo, Rapoport, 1963), Kalala-gyr-2 (Weinberg, 1996), Kunya-Uaz, and Kang-kala (Nerazik, 1958), asynchronous left-bank Khorezm settlements (Weinberg, 1979a, b; Weinberg, 1981, 1991 a, b; Kolyako, 1983.1984).

In turn, the new excavation and discoveries in the studies of kurgan burials and ossuary necropolises helped to address the issues primarily related to the ethnogenesis of the ancient Khorezm people, their spiritual culture (Weinberg, 1979a, b, 1991 a, b, 1992;. Lapirov-Skoblo, Rapoport, 1963; Rapoport, 1971, Lohovits, 1979; Lohovits, Khazanov, 1979; Trudnovskaya, 1979, 1996; Yablonsky, 1986a, b, 1987b, 1989, 1991a, b, c, 1992b, 1996). The results of the Khorezm nomadic periphery studies were summed up in a special collection (Nomads..., 1979), which included materials from the excavation of the 1960's-1970's.

During the 1980's in the territory of the ancient Sarykamysh delta of the Amu Darya worked a Left-Bank Archaeological and Anthropological crew of the Khorezm expedition, headed by the author. The work of the team were specifically focused on archaeological research of the necropolises and assembly of paleoanthropological collections. The results of that work formed the basis of this book.

The traditional for the Russian humanities science idea of integrated approach to solving the problems of ethnogenetic thematics (more about that see: Alekseev, 1986, 1989) was practically implemented in the works of the Khorezm expedition. The most important role in that respect was rightfully assigned to the paleoanthropological research in the South Aral Sea area. The series of paleoanthropological studies on the left bank Khorezm ancient populations that was begun by T.A.Trofimova (1957, 1959, 1974a, b, c, 1979, Ginzburg, Trofimova, 1972) was continued by other researchers (Kiyatkina, 1983; Hodjayov, 1970, 1980; Yagodin , Hodjayov, 1970; Yablonsky, 1986b, 1991b, c; 1992b Yablonsky, Bolelov, 1991; Yablonsky, Kolyako, 1992, Maslov, Yablonsky, 1996). The present monograph is a latest attempt i realization of that idea.

One of the S.P.Tolstov's achievements in the integrated study of the ancient monuments in the interfluvial between Amu Darya and Syr Darya is that, parallel to the archaeological and paleoanthropological investigations, was conducted work with participation of geomorphology specialists, to reconstruct the paleo-ecological situation in the region during the immense period of its human population (Tolstoy, Kes, 1954; Kes, 1958). A main result of the archaeological and palaeogeographical investigations of the 1950's became a monumental work "Lower Amu Darya. Sarikamish. Uzboi. History of formation and human settlement"(1960). In that edition were for the first time published geomorphological maps of the Aral Sea region with marked monuments of differring times that were dating the numerous changeable beds of the Amu Darya.

The data accumulated in that study became a basis for a series of new archaeological and paleoecological studies relating to the problems of mutual influence between men and environment in the Aral Sea area(see, for example: Andrianov, 1969; Andrianov et al, 1975; Weinberg, 1988, 1991a, b , 1997; Yusupov, H., 1986a; Sorokina, Yagodin, 1980; Kes, 1987; Glushko, 1996; Itina, Yablonsky, 1997). Despite the fact that a number of issues related to the subject remain debatable (Weinberg, 1991a, 1997; H. Yusupov, 1986), these studies revealed the most important, a high dependence of the specific antropogeocenoses and cultural formations in the Aral Sea area from the diverse landscape and historically changing environmental situation in the region.

The south and south-eastern Aral Sea region was settled by men still in the Middle Paleolithic Era (Vinogradov, 1981, p.10) (Middle Paleolithic ended 40 to 50 KY ago). Since then, the development of this area by the man did not stop, despite the difficult and sometimes extreme habitat conditions. The specificity of the Aral antropogeotcenoses (definition and content of the concept: Alekseev, 1975) there has always been conditional due to the state and direction of the delta flow channels of two Middle Asian great rivers, Amu Darya and Syr Darya, since they provide a permanent source of drinking water. The coastal areas of these rivers always served as a corridor linking ancient population of predominantly agricultural south with the pastoral ( "barbarous") populations of the Northern Middle Asia and Kazakhstan (Yablonsky, 1984b; Vinogradov et al, 1986).

A periodical joining of the delta channels of both rivers provided an existence of latitudinal cultural and genetic ties, which was in particular typical for the Early Saka Era (Itin, Yablonsky, 1997).

At the same time, the Southern Aral Sea region and especially, the Amu Darya Sarykamysh delta is a relatively isolated area. From the south it is bounded by the impassable sands of the massive Karakum desert; from the northwest by rocky, covered with salt marshes and almost always waterless Usturt channel; from the west by the Sarykamysh lake and Uzboi plateau, the density of anthropogenic cover of which was entirely dependent on sporadic flow of water through the Uzboi bed; further to the west lays a virtually waterless E.Caspian lowland, in the north lays the mirror of the saltine Aral Sea and periodically dry or waterlogged Northern and Akchadarya deltas of the Amu Darya. Apparently not by chance the Sarykamysh settlements of the Early Saka time were completely void of any kind of defences (Weinberg, 1979a, b). The boundaries delineated above were a kind of a genetic barrier, providing generally independent focus for race- and ethnogenesis.

At the same time, these boundaries were never completely impassable for heterogeneous and differently cultured nomadic unions. The northern-eastern Aral Sea region is yet insufficiently studied in the archaeological terms. But the ethnographic data on the routes of late Middle Asia and Kazakhstan nomads' movement to the Urals steppe and back can retrospectively suggest that this type of migrations could have taken place in antiquity. The studies have established episodic residence in the Usturt Plateau of the nomads belonging to the Savromat (Sauromat) (Yagodin, 1987.1988) and Sarmat cultural type (Yagodin, 1978a, b; Olhovskiy, 1995, 1996). From the middle of the 1st millennium BC, after a flow though the Uzboi channel has resumed, appeared a unique culture of the Uzboi pastoralists, with many parallels in the monuments of the left bank Khorezm (Yusupov H., 1986; Weinberg, Yusupov, 1992).

Ever since the Bronze Age (recall the remarkable syncretism of the Tazabagyab culture) the southern Aral Sea region served as an arena of continuous cultural and genetic interaction of the steppe populations (Itina, 1977; Vinogradov et al, 1986). In that sense, the Iron Age also was not different. That the course of the ethogenetical processes in the region was repeatedly interrupted as a result of large-scale environmental disturbances is a different matter.

The disappearance from the Sarykamysh map of such a powerful entity as was the Neolithic Kelteminar culture (Vinogradov, 1981) was connected with environmental disturbance (Based on archeological typology, Kelteminars are classed as Finno-Ugrians, extending from Aral to Zeravshan and Northern Kazakhstan, and contiguous with Shigir Finno-Ugrians in the Urals. The Aral Kelteminar population was just a small speck that emigrated at a bad time. Kelteminar people melted away at about 2,000 BC. But in reality, since the distribution of the Türkic people at about 2,000 BC is disputed, and the linguistic belonging of the  components is as vague as at could be, short of direct DNA measurements there is no reason to deny a possibility that Kelteminars may became a component of the Türkic people).

Over many centuries during the Bronze Age that area was not inhabited, because the main drainage of the Amudarya waters then flowed through the northern river channels. The life there resumed only at the final stages of the Bronze Age, but it is represented by only archaeologically few (often dispersed) and not too long in terms of duration habitation sites of the Kang-kala 2 type (Durdyev, 1984). The culture of these sites has no further development in the Sarykamysh, and we can confidently state that the new phase of the ethnogenetical process began there only in the era of the early Saka type culture, when the Sarykamysh delta territory was simultaneously populated again by heterogeneous groups of pastoralists who left numerous settlements and various types of the burials structures (Weinberg, 1975, 1979a; Yablonsky, 1991a).

According to the absolute chronology, the beginning of the intense water flow through the Amudarya Sarykamysh delta did not occur earlier than the 8th c. BC, probably toward its end (Weinberg, 1997, p. 25). At the turn of the 7th-6th cc. BC sprang up an early Kyuzeligyr state culture of the left bank Khorezm with its strong fortifications and unfortified settlements (Vishnevskaya, Rapoport, 1997, p.150). Thus, we must recognize that the carriers of the Sarykamysh Kyuzeligyr and Early Saka cultures in a relatively short chronological period co-existed in a limited geographical area. This conclusion is confirmed by finds of Kyuzeligyr type ceramics in the Early Saka Sakar-chaga burials (Yablonsky, 1996) (Herodotus stated that Masguts/Massagets had cities and fortifications. However, under Masguts/Massagets Herodotus understood the pastoral riders that resisted Persians and headed the country, not the settled agriculturists within the country. Apparently, the somewhat Mongoloid Saka pastoralists took over the leadership upon arrival from the Eastern Steppes, and had under their control the former nomadic sedentary settlers). According to B.I.Weinberg (1997, pp. 25-26) already at the turn of the 5th-4th cc. BC started the filling of the Uzboi channel. From that time until the period preceding the Middle Ages, the runoff of the Amudarya waters through the channels of the Sarykamysh delta did not cease. In addition, no later than from the 4th c. BC there begins a construction of a powerful and fairly complex irrigation system (Kunyauaz channel) and the local irrigation systems associated with the agricultural settlements located in the western part of the delta.

Nevertheless, archaeological data indicate that not later than from the mid 6th c. BC (at about 550 BC), despite the quite favorable for intensive animal husbandry and subsistence farming conditions, the culture of classical Saka type in the left bank Khorezm suddenly disappeared (Masguts/Massagets evacuated from the indefensible territory, moving to the right bank Khorezm and leaving Amudarya as a barrir for the Persian army, as relayed Herodotus). Moreover, in the post-Saka time the oldest nomadic-type burial structures known today in the Sarykamysh area can not be dated earlier time than the end of 5th in. BC (about 500 BC). The only pastoralists' cemetery discovered in the territory of the right bank Khorezm (Gudkov, Manylov, 1981) also already belongs to the Kangar (Kangyui) era. Thus, based on the complex of modern archaeological knowledge must be recognized the existence of a significant chronological gap in the whole Khorezm territory between the funerary monuments of the Early Saka and Kangar (Kangyui) eras (i.e between 500 BC and  400 or 350 BC, or between 7th-5th cc. BC of Early Saka Era and between 400 or 350 and 100 BC of  Kangar/Kangyui Era). The existence of this gap can of course be explained by the difficulties of the archaeological dating. However, the materials from the nearby and ecologically similar Lower Syrdarya region obstruct such attempts. There, in the 2nd half of the 6th c. BC also happen significant cultural innovation, reflected in the typological change of the armaments and "animal style" art, but the course of the ethnogenetic process was not interrupted (Itina, Yablonsky, 1997) (That historical layer belongs to pre-historical period, as far as the Saka and Kangar tribes are concerned. We can only speculate that the Khorezm Masguts were assisted by forces sent from the central or allied union, of the Sakas or Kangars, and these forces were drafted from the subject of the union that were different from the Khorezm Sakas).

A comparison of specific ethnohistorical processes of the Early Saka time in the South and South-Eastern Aral Sea region (Yablonsky, 1991c, 1992c, 1993) shows that the cultural crisis of the Sarykamysh early pastoralists occured not as a result of environmental events, but this time was created by the political circumstances that can not be unrealated with the military-political and economic expansion of the Ahaemenids, and the development and groth of the local state system that existed in the archaic Kyuzeligyr culture. Before the turn of the 5th-4th cc. BC (ca 400 BC), Khorezm was a part of the Achaemenid kingdom 16th satrapy (Vishnevskaya, Rapoport, 1997), which of course was reflected on the overall political situation in the southern Aral Sea region and, in particular, on the specifics of the relationships with the nomads (In other words, the sedentary population had to accept the Ahaemenid yoke, but not the mobile herders).

This example already shows that the ethnogenesis of the Aral pastoral population not only was not straightforward, but was distinctly discontinuous and multi-dimentional, impacted by various combination of the factors, from environmental to foreign and domestic.

Even the first excavation of the ancient burials in the Sarykamysh area demonstrated that the nomads who for a millennium (during the 2nd half of the 1st millennium BC and the 1st half of the 1st millennium AD) (i.e. from ca 500 BC to the ca 500 AD) were settling in the periphery of Khorezm were themselves culturally and genetically heterogeneous, and behaved differently in terms of relationships with the local population. Some groups assimilated quickly through a process of cultural and genetic infiltration, the others remained committed to their traditional way of life. Both of these phenomena found a reflection in the funeral ceremony and in the composition of the accompanying inventory.

Therefore, a substantial part of this book is devoted to a detailed study of the particulars of the funeral ritual. The main purpose of this study is to identify patterns in the distribution of particulars of the burials that could help answer questions related to the economic and social peculiarities of the population in the cattle breeding periphery of Khorezm at different chronological stages. The chronology of individual necropolises is remaining a subject of debate. It is therefore natural that the particulars of the burials which are especially important in the chronological attribution of the necropolises are addressed in detail.

The key provisions of the discussion are reflected in special parts of the book. My first teacher in the area of the kurgan archaeology of the Sarykamysh, and my chief and eternal scientific opponent, B.I.Weinberg, at the time (1991a) noted that the development of the debate in many ways is difficult because of the incomplete publication of the results for the Left Bank Crew (last excavations were conducted in 1988). In part, this gap is already filled by individual publications. Now, when the complexes I excavated are consolidated under one cover in a sufficiently complete form,  this debate will be more fruitful.

In any event, the wide chronological range of the attracted materials is designed to examine the process of ethnic and cultural development in the the region not in static, but in dynamic condition, to trace the various factors affecting the process in relatively short segments, focusing on key factors (and the importance of the factors varied depending on the particular historical situation).

The noted diversity of the Aral ethnogenesis requires a special re-thinking of the methodological problems associated with the relationship of the notions "archaeological culture", "physical type", "linguistic attribution", "ethnos and ethnicity". In the previously published monograph on the early Saka phase of the Sarykamysh ethnic history (Yablonsky, 1996), I defined the position in respect to the inner meaning of these and other basic concepts. This monograph ius in essence a natural continuation of the previous one, because my concept since the release of the "Saka" part has not changed. Therefore it obviously makes no sense to repeat them again. The practical transition from theoretical modeling to a particular ethnogenetic reconstruction are reflected in the relevant chapters of this book.

Ethnogenesis of the population in the pastoral  periphery of the ancient Khorezm

The ethnogenesis of the pastoral population of Khorezm can't be presented as a direct and unbroken line extending from the populations of Early Saka type to modernity. Trying to graphically represent the ethnogenetical processes occurring over the 1st millennium BC - 1st half of the 1st millennium AD, the graph on the chart would take a reticular shape, without a single original thread. Throughout that period in the Khorezm  territory coexisted historically different types and forms of ethnic processes, some characteristics of which are observed in the archaeological materials. Thus, the continuous ceramic tradition and construction of the burial chamber for community repeated burials illustrate some local ethnic evolutionary processes. However, the phenomena such as a complete and sudden disappearance of archaeologically Saka-type burial customs, a disappearance in the kurgan burials of the armaments typical for the steppes pastoralists, a change (though not universal) of inhumation with a custom of prior cleansing the bones of deceased, all this points to a discontinuity of the cultural development ( and ethnogenesis?) at certain chronological periods, a presence of ethno-transformational processes that complemented ethno-evolutionary processes in Khorezm.

The findings of the archeology are well supported from the paleoanthropology standpoint: the relatively numerous craniological materials from different historical epochs, obtained from the Khorezm  territory, give an impression of the original (i.e. beginning of the 1st millennium BC) anthropological heterogeneity of the local pastoral population, of a continuing and close interaction in the territory of the left bank Khorezm of the inherently heterogeneous populations that had their own paths of development in different regions of the steppe and semi-desert zones. The biological interactions between different groups had a multidirectional nature, on the one hand is well traced a formation of relatively homogeneous complex of craniological indicators typical for the present-day population phenotype in the Middle Asian interfluvial (a northern type of that category), and on the other hand the existence at each stage not only cultural, but also physically distinct groups that did not become the constituent elements of this ethnogenetical process.

In many respects, the complexity of the Khorezm pastoralists' cultural development can be explained in terms of the "ideas diffusion" model, that is a borrowing of cultural innovations from outside, in our case from the farming communities of the Southern Aral Sea. But as in my opinion convincingly showed V.A.Shnirelman (1991, p.17-18), a borrowing in itself is not yet sufficient incentive for a successful development and completion of an innovation process. Thus, the transition from one economic system to another, according to the ethnographic materials, was prodded above all by a crisis of the old system. In the same work V.A.Shnirelman proposed a classification of such crises. The taxa of the classification are dependent on the nature of the external factors causing the system crisis. Among them are environmental crises (natural and anthropogenic), demographic, technological, economic (disruption of traditional exchange structures), epizootic, socially forced (potestar) (development of a prestige economic system for collection of tribute and taxes, rise of some groups at the expense of others), and military  crises. By the duration of the effect on the society, the crises are short-term and prolonged, and by the degree of influence they are temporary and reversible (Shnirelman, 1991, p.18-19).

Our materials show that at different intervals, the population of the left-bank Khorezm experienced not only the different types of crises, but sometimes several different types of crises acted simultaneously, which led to irreversible cultural and genetic changes in the structure of local economically-diverse populations. This thesis is illustrated with the materials of particular historical periods of the Khorezm state.

Early Saka Era and the formation epoch of the archaic Khorasmian statehood

The very possibility for the beginning the ethnogenetical processes in the territory of Southern Aral Sea was totally dependent on environmental factors. With the exceptional inconstancy of natural conditions in the region that was always dependent on the quirks in the status of the Amu Darya delta, one powerful environmental factor was active there continuously from the Mesolith, and is active today, that is an extremity of living in the area bordering the inherent sands of the Karakum desert in the south, and Kyzylkum to the east, waterless stony expanses of the Uzboi's plateau and Ustyurt to the west and north-west, the saline Aral Sea and sands of the Northern Aral Sea to the north. Amu Darya has always been the only permanent source of drinking water there.

Archaeological and paleogeographic studies, main results of which were summarized by B.I.Weinberg in a special article (1997), showed that in the Neolithic period and before the end of the 3rd millennium BC the Amu Darya's Akchadarya and Sarykamysh deltas functioned simultaneously. Precisely to that time belong numerous monuments of the Kelteminar Neolithic culture, located both on the right and on the left bank in the lower course of the river (Vinogradov, 1981).

In the Bronze Age, when Akchadarya delta (into Aral Sea) continued to be active, the flow in the Sarykamysh delta and Uzboi (into Caspian Sea) stopped. If in the Akchadarya territory appear and spread numerous monuments of Tazabagiyab culture (Itina, 1977), in the Sarykamysh life stops for a long time. These were the consequences of local environmental crisis caused by the behavior of the Amu Darya. From a historical perspective, this crisis was prolonged and irreversible, it lasted for nearly two millennia, and led to the irreversible break in the genesis of the Kelteminar population (Based on archeological typology, Kelteminars are classed as Finno-Ugrians, extending from Aral to Zeravshan and Northern Kazakhstan, and contiguous with Shigir Finno-Ugrians in the Urals. The Aral Kelteminar population was just a small speck that emigrated at a bad time. Kelteminar people left Middle Asia at about 2,000 BC. The spread of Kelteminars in the Middle Asia conflicts with the hypothesis of the Middle Asian homeland for Indo-Iranians. Kelteminar people bear some Mongoloid admixture, which also excludes Indo-Iranians, unless, of course, they adopt a position of being partly Mongoloids, a long shot so far.).

At the end of the 8th - beginning of the 7th c. BC starts a new, abundant watering of the Sarykamysh delta channels, and a gradual filling of the Sarykamysh depression, which once again turns into a lake. A settlement Kang 1 (Durdyyew, 1984) is dated by the end of  the 8th c. BC, it is typologically related to the final cultures of the Middle Asian steppes from the Bronze Age (The same Karasuk  Amirabads, spoiled by the abundance of the delta horse husbandry).

At the same time, with a change in the irrigation scheme in the Amu Darya delta, the Late Bronze Age Amirabad type settlements on the right bank decline and its line of cultural-genetic development in the region is discontinued (Itina, 1977) (Amirabad culture existed between 10th and 8th c. BC. Based on archeological typology of their ceramics, the Amirabads are linked with ethnologically Türkic Karasuk steppe cattle-breeders, Amirabads were the first to build a network of irrigation channels, and they did not build stationary adobe housing. After the Akchadarya delta dried up, they moved to Sarykamysh delta).

The settlement Kang 1 in the Sarykamysh apparently did not exist for long. Thus, as a result of environmental factors, in the Southern Aral Sea continued the irreversible crisis of the Bronze Age cultures.

At the end of the 2nd - beginning of the 1st millennium BC in the Volga-Ural and northern Kazahstan and Mongolian steppes occurred a global climate change. In the paleo-ecological aspect they were marked by shifting of climatic zones, changes in the composition of soil, degree of atmospheric moisture. The historical aspect of these changes led to a widespread crisis of the Late Bronze Age cultures, intensive and multi-directional movement of the steppe and forest-steppe groups, activization of the cultural and genetic diffusional processes, which ultimately led to the formation of the Saka-type cultures in the eastern areal of the steppes (The term "Saka-type cultures" apparently apply to the Scythians of the Middle Asia steppes, as opposed to the European Scythians).

Apparently, with this crisis must be connected the almost total absence of the 8th - 7th cc. BC archaeological monuments in the considerable territories from the Danube to the Southern Urals (Jelezchikov et al, 1995). At the same time starts a sharp increase in aridity and continental climate in the Central Mongolia regions, accompanied by turning of the mountain valleys meadow-chestnut soils  into the steppe-type soils. The similar processes occurred in the Baraba forest-steppe (summary data: Demkin, 1997, Table 11). At the same time, exactly in that period in the northern Kazakhstan is noted a beginning of the steppe humidification, which led in particular to a penetration to the south of populations whose cultural and economic type formed in a stable zone of forest-steppe and southern fringe of the forest. Along with that is observed an expansion of the areal of the of the steppe cultures to the north, to the territory east of Urals, Southern Urals and Bashkortostan (Habdulina, Zdanowicz, 1984, p.153-154) (Aridization of the Central Asian steppe and humidification of the Middle Asian steppes creates a drift of the Central Asian pastoralists into the middle Asia, accompanied by a drift of the Central Asian pastoralists to Far Eastern southern and northern Siberian niches, and a drift of the Middle Asian pastoralists to the Middle Asian and Ural-Western Siberian niches).

The start of the Early Iron Age Aral ethnogenesis was directly connected with these changes. At the end of the 8th or in the beginning of the 7th BC in the Lower Syrdarya appear the bearers of the Saka type culture, the origin of the physical type of which must be unquestionably connected with the eastern ranges of the steppe, and presumably the Mongolian steppe (Yablonsky, 1996v, Itina, Yablonsky, 1997) (The movement of the Central Asian pastoralists is a pendant movement, it reverses the predominant eastward movement of the Andronovo-Afanasievo Kurgan Cultures into a predominant westward movement of the  Scythian-Saka Kurgan Cultures).

At the same time (7th c. BC) there was a new re-population of the Sarykamysh delta, the area that is to become a part of the archaic (Kuzeligyr) ancient and medieval Khorezm. According to archeology and anthropology (Yablonsky, 1996a), this peopling was done by a heterogeneous pastoralist populations. The ancestral home of one of them was located in the Volga-Ural steppes, in the distribution zone of the monuments of the final stage of the Timber Grave Culture. Another group was connected with the eastern "Saka" steppe areal. In the relatively isolated and wetland area of their migration, both groups switched to semi- or even sedentary lifestyle, as evidenced by the settlements of the Kuyusai Culture and relative abundance of burials in several cemeteries of that period (only in the Sakar-Chaga 6 cemetery were excavated 44 burials of the Early Saka time, which is about as many as the synchronous burials found so far in the steppes from Dnieper to the Urals). The transition of the Sarykamysh herders from a mobile way of life (which actually brought them to the territory of the Sarykamysh) consequently happened as a result of the crisis, the external cause of which was, again, the environmental factor.

The funeral tradition of the Early Saka (communal and individual burials on the surface horizon and in diverse pits) with inhumation or cremation continued by some data to the turn of the 7th-6th c. BC (Yablonsky, 1996a), and by other (Weinberg, 1991a) to the middle of the 6th c. BC. Be as it may, it can be safely stated that not later than the middle of the 6th c. BC arrived a new crisis of the Saka culture in the Sarykamysh, which found reflection not only in the funeral tradition, but also in the paleoanthropological materials. Our data suggest that very specific craniological complexes inherent to the Early Saka population, are not recorded any more in a "pure" form in the Sarykamysh burials of the 2nd half of the 1st millennium BC. And this time there's absolutely no reason to suppose that the cause of the crisis of the classical Saka type culture was a change in the environment. For that exists direct and circumstantial evidence.

Direct proof is that after the Sarykamysh delta was flooded in the early 1st millennium BC, that regime remained stable at least for a millennium (Weinberg, 1997, p.25). The circumstantial evidence provides the historical ethno-cultural situation in the Lower Syrdarya during the Early Saka time. The -1st half of the 6th c. BC Saka burial ritual has numerous parallels with the Sarykamysh ritual. These parallels are found not only in the design of the burial chamber, but also in the typological composition of the accompanying inventory (Yablonsky, 1996a).In the Lower Syrdarya Darya in the middle of the 6th c. BC  changed the typological composition of the inventory, which could be caused by re-orientation of the Sakas to different metallurgical and cultural centers that were their sources for acquiring armaments and a change of tactics. However, no doubts are raised of the fact that the Saka culture, albeit in a transformed form, survived till the 5th c. BC in environmental conditions close to those in the Amu Darya area (Itina, Yablonsky, 1997) (The name of this 7th-5th cc. BC Saka tribe is well known from the historical sources, these are Masguts, the Herodotus' Massagetae, led in the 6th c. BC by a queen Tamiris, in Tr. Iron Queen).

Consequently, the crisis of the Sarykamysh Saka culture happened as a result of circumstances not present (further north) in the Syr Darya. This circumstance could be a conquest of Khorezm by the Achaemenides during their raids to the Middle Asia in the last third of the 6th c. BC. Then we would face the classical reflection of a military crisis, likely accompanied by the loss of the livestock, which led to a death of the classical Saka culture.

However, the archaeological evidence testify that the crisis of the Sarykamysh Saka culture apparently occurred still in the pre-Achaemenid time, and was connected with the emergence of the ancient state archaic (Kuzeligyr) culture. About the early (no later than the beginning 6th c. BC) interaction of (pastoral) Sakas and the carriers of the Kuzeligyr culture testified the previously relatively rare  finds of clearly Kuzeligyr type pottery in the Sakar-Chaga 6 burials. However, a series of recent publications related to the excavations of the Kuzeli-gyr site explicitly state that the emergence of the Khorezm Kuzeligyr culture should be attributed to the pre-Achaemenid time, it emerged as a cultural-historical phenomenon no later than the turn the 7th-6th c. BC, and not in the 2nd half of the 6th c. BC, as was thought previously (Rapoport, 1996, pp. 56; Itina et al, 1996, p.24; Vishnevskaya, Rapoport, 1997, p.150). The interesting hypothesis of A. Rapoport (1996, p.56) that the Sarykamysh Sakas were the creators of the Khorezm state and Kuzeligyr culture may gain divergent opinions in respect to the degree of evidence. The final acceptance of this hypothesis is hampered by a lack of the Kuzeligyr culture burials, and consequently a lackof the  craniological materials. But the fact of the coexistence of "Sakas" and "Kuzeligyrs" for centuries, in the limited space in the Amu Darya delta, already does not raise any doubts. Archaeologically, how that coexistence has ended is known, with the development of Kuzeligyr culture during the whole Achaemenid period in the history of Khorezm, and with its evolutionary transformation into a culture of Khorezm of the Antiquity Epoch, on the one hand, and a complete disappearance in the territory of the Saka type culture, on the other hand (In spite of conditions extremely favorable for pastoral husbandry, the pastoral Sakas in the Sarykamysh delta melt away by dissolving, by their own volition, in the linguistically identical sedentary Kuzeligyr culture of the agricultural Khorezm. Since no pastoralist would trade his leisure and freedom for a fate of a tiller, this scenario can't be real without a forced intervention, like a complete loss, beyond a point of recovery, of all their herds stolen by the Ahaemenids. No army could ever safeguard their whole  livestock booty. It should be remembered that in favorable conditions the herd restoration can be very quick, hundreds times increase within a life of one generation).

If, according to Rapoport's hypothesis, the Sakas proper founded the Kuzeli-gyr fortress and numerous culturally identical settlements on the right bank and left banks of the Amu Darya, we are dealing with a classic display of the "diffusion of ideas" which Sakas received during their presumed (by an analogy with the Scythians) raids to the areas of the Asia Minor and Middle East. A demonstration model of this "diffusion" for the Aral population of the Late Bronze Epoch is clearly seen in the mausoleums of the Northern Tagisken (Itina, 1992) which A. Rapoport (1996, p.70) for some reason (without any arguments) calls belonging to Saka. The real fact is that in the Lower Syrdarya the appearance of the brick mausoleums coincided with an irreversible crisis of the Late Bronze Age local culture (what type of culture?), and in the Sarykamysh area (the appearance of the brick mausoleums, or the melting away of the Sakas?) coincided with a crisis, possibly prolonged, but also irreversible, of the Saka culture.

The historical consequences of this crisis for the local populations such as Sarykamysh Sakas are difficult to assess. Earlier, was suggested that the local Sakas-Massagets (or some part of them) could constitute one of the ethnic components of the Kuzeligyr culture, and that some Saka (Masgut) populations could have left the Southern Aral Sea region, not consenting to accept the new socio-political conditions of their existence (Yablonsky, 1996a). Some archaeologists even attempted to trace the routes the Sakas used to leave the Khorezm  territory (Yagodin, 1978a; Kuznetsova, 1988).

In that case, we would have a sign of forced social (potestar) crisis, which presupposes, among others, a displacement and migration of those who are disaffected with the policies, including economic policies, proposed by the groups that seized social leadership in the territory (Shnirelman, 1991, p.19 ).

To the classification of the crises suggested by V.A.Shnirelman could also be added the crises related to a religious pressure from the same social leaders. In our case, a manifestation of such religion became a ritual of exposing the corpses. A. Rapoport (1996, p.75) does not exclude that Zoroaster lived in the Khorezm, and specifically in the 7th-6th cc. BC. The absence of Kuzeligyr culture burials he logically linked with a spread, already at that time, of the ritual exposing. In his discussion the researcher goes further, and with a reference to Herodotus he claims that Massagets (Masguts) knew the exposition ritual. It is clear that this statement is intended to reconcile his two hypotheses, about the Sakas (Massaget/Masgut) nature of the Kuzeligyr culture, and the early formation of the Middle Asian version of the Zoroastrianism in the Khorezm  territory. However, it should be noted, that the citation from Herodotus quoted by A. Rapoport reads as follows: "... but when a person becomes very old, all the relatives get together to sacrifice him, and small livestock together with him, they cook meat, and arrange a feast. Such death is deemed the happiest among them. But who died of a disease is not eaten, but buried in the ground, considering that to be a misfortune that he did not live to be sacrificed." (Quoted from: Dovatur et al, 1982, p. 93). It seems that, even if you always believe in many respects mythological texts of Herodotus, this passage has no hint of the exposure ritual. Most likely, as suggested by the authors of comments (Dovatur et al, 1982, p.190) the report in this case is about documented among different peoples of the world custom of cannibalism related to the idea about a way to acquire power and strength of the deceased. If this assumption is correct, then the exposure ritual in its classical form could disgust the Sarykamysh pastoralists, and this was another reason (religious) for the crisis of their local culture (That Masguts did not have any conflicts with the Tengrian beliefs is demonstrated by their merger with the N.Caucasus Huns in the 3rd-5th cc. AD. In the N.Caucasus state, Masguts and Huns shared the same religious leaders and rituals, had similar burial practices, and identical etiology. In Tengriism, a human has two souls, and the indestructible soul must be provided means to reach the other world, otherwise it lingers among leaving, and is frightening and may be retaliatory. It can't be eaten. The Herodotus' story is correct in the description of the funeral feast, but erroneous and derogatory in respect to cannibalism. An absolutely major part of the Tengriism beliefs is a respect of the ancestors, and a great care in equipping them for a difficult and perilous trip to the other world, signified by innumerable kurgans built with uncountable efforts across the whole Euroasia, those in the Bronze Epoch Middle Asia built by the tribes called Saka in the sources).

Thus, the specifics of the ethnogenetical processes, that in many ways prepared the further development of ethno-historical situation in left bank Khorezm was determined not only by the internal factors of socio-economic development of local pastoralists, but also by external influences, that led to sequential or simultaneous impacts of different types of crises which, in addition to environmental, had also a forced social (potestar) and probably religious nature.

"Kangar" (Kangyuy/Kanju/Koykrylgan) stage

At the turn of the 5th-4th cc. BC Khorezm actually achieved a political independence of the Achaemenid empire, and that time becomes a beginning of a new, "Kangar" stage of the Khorasmian statehood development. Apparently, trying to emphasize the cultural and typological differentiation between Khorezm and the Kangar kingdom of the chronicles, a group of researchers (Itina et al, 1996) proposed to replace the traditional reference to that era, the term "Kangar" (Kangyuy) to "Koykrylgan" phase (reference to the etalon monument of the Khorasmian archeology, Koi-Krylgan-Kale). The dating of the lower chronological date of that era is challenged only by B.I.Weinberg (1981, pp. 84), which sets it in the middle of the 4th c. BC. The upper time horizon is also not very clear determined archaeologically. Previously, it was confidently demarkated by the 2nd c. BC, now it does not exclude the possibility to bring it up to the1st c. BC. Such approach is appropriate because just the turn of the 2nd-1st c. BC is marked by the destruction and subsequent desolation of many fortresses and settlements in the Khorezm ancient period. Experts have different reasons for the devastation. Some (Itina et al, 1996, p.25) link it with the onslaught of the nomadic tribes that participated in the destruction of the Greco-Bactria (Tochars, Ases, Sabirs), others (Weinberg, 1991a, p.39-40) with religious reform, which, in particular, led to final destruction of the cult buildings with circular layout of the Koi-Krylgan-kala, Kalala-gyr-2 and Gyaur-3 type.

It is important that the minting of the ancient Khorezm coins and establishing their own chronology happened at that time, which scientists believe (Itina et al, 1996, p.25) was a result of their economic independence from the "Kangar" ("Kangüy") , which was accompanied by the establishing a new dynasty in Khorezm.

It was the beginning of this era, at the turn of the 5th-4th cc. BC, that in the territory of the Khorezm left bank, after a long break, appear new burial kurgans. This archaeologically determined fact can't not to be justaposed against a common historical canvas of the political situation in the region. B.I.Weinberg (1991a, p.46, 1991b, p.136) believes that in the post-Achaemenid period, the Khorezm State took a protectionist stance towards the pastoralists who settled in the territory of the Khorezm left bank.

It is possible that the emergence of the new pastoral groups on the Khorezm periphery was caused by external (environmental) factor. The fact is that the 4th-2nd cc. BC fall into a period of sharp aridization of the landscapes in the Ural steppes (Demkin, Ryskov, 1996a; Demkin, 1997, p.158), which became a cause of a massive outpouring of nomadic populations, in particular from the Southern Eastern Urals (Tairov, 1995). However, the process of the steppe drying and desertification did not have a global character. According to Y.G.Ryskova and V.A.Demkina (1997, p.144), the environmental dynamics within the Southern Urals did not go beyond the steppe/dry-steppe conditions, and remained favorable for life. That was one reason for the concentration in the Southern Urals of the Sarmatian cultural and economic type populations in the initial stage of the formation of that culture. That concentration apparently has led to a demographic crisis, which was a driving cause for cyclical and multidirectional migration of the Sarmatians during the 3rd-2nd cc. BC not only to the west (Jelezchikov, 1983; Skripkin, 1990), but also to the south, to the oases of Middle Asia (Skripkin, 1984, 1990).

Notable parallels in some of the classic attributes of the Sarmatian and Khorezmian herders' funeral traditions suggest that the Sarykamysh delta territory of the Amu Darya in that period was open to migrants from the Ural steppes. However, the southern Aral Sea region has no necropolises with a complex of traits that can be attributed to the ethnic Sarmatians. The exceptional instability of the orientation of the deceased, the absence of an inventory complex accompanying the burial typical for the nomadic burial rituals of that era, and in particular of the armaments, all that suggests gradual and sporadic waves of migration that led to a certain syncretism of the funeral rituals. This syncretism emerged on the basis of the migrant heterogeneity, that in addition superimposed on the local cultural and ideological traditions.

It is different with the anthropological evidence. They clearly demonstrate a sharp change in the physical type of the Aral pastoralists, compared with previous, Early Saka era. They do not allow to completely exclude the involvement of the "Kuyusai" population (a blend of western Timber Grave nomads with eastern "Saka" nomads) in the formation of the anthropological type of the Khorezm pastoralists in the 2nd half of the 1st millennium BC, but clearly show a common (at a high taxonomic level) (i.e. Negroid vs. Caucasoid vs. Mongoloid) origin of the Sarmatian and Sarykamysh populations during the Kangar era. The geographical homeland of the common craniological complex lies outside of the South Aral Sea and probably lays in the Ural steppes of the Savromat time (Sauromat time 6th-4th cc. BC; the Saka Masguts mostly left the Aral area, to re-appear in the Caucasian steppes on the other side of the Caspian Sea, and the Timber Grave Sarmats took their place, significantly changing the demographical picture. The cause of the Sarmat migration is confusing, aridization is a bad catalyst for a demographic explosion of the pastoralists).

Summing up the first massive archaeological study of the Khorezm pastoral groups, B.I.Weinberg developed a thorough concept, according to her understanding then of the historical situation in the Khorezm left bank. The schematical presentation of that concept is as follows (Weinberg, 1979a, p.52, 1979b, p.171-176):

1. At the turn of the 5th-4th cc. BC Kuyusai (Sarmat) population solidly joined the cultural and ideological sphere of the Khorezm state; not later than the turn of the 5th-4th cc. BC occurs a transition of the Kuyusais (Sarmats) burial ritual to burials of pre-cleansed bones in the ceramic vessels; a synchronous phenomena is observed in the tombs of the Uzboi plateau pastoralists, these processes are explained by an influence of the religious policy of the later Achaemenids (with that dating of the earliest Sarykamysh ossuaries agreed M.G.Vorobieva, 1979, p.41, a best connoisseur of the Khoresmian ceramics, and A. Rapoport, 1996, p.58, a leading expert on the history of religion in Khorezm);

2. In place of the burial kurgans of the Kuyusai culture (a blend of western Timber Grave nomads with eastern "Saka" nomads) came kurgans with side chamber burials with northern orientation of the deceased, dated to 4th c. BC The disappearance of the Kuyusai culture monuments is not related with environmental shocks, the Kuyusais were displaced from the western part of the Sarykamysh delta by nomadic migrants;

3. By the 2nd-1st c. BC belong the burials in the side chamber under the western wall of the burial pit, and the catacombs with a southern orientation of the deceased. These burials are accompanied by the alien for the Khorezm ceramics, yet in the 2nd c. BC - 1st centuries AD the newcomers came into a close contact with the local populations, which is determined from the materials of the Khorezm settlements, and from the burial rituals. By that same time belong the Tumek-Kichidzhik repeated communal burials in the pits with dromoi.

In her later works, B.I.Weinberg decisively changed almost all the basic tenets of that concept, and came to the following conclusions (Weinberg, 1991a, p.51 et seq., 1991b, pp. 136 et seq.):

1. The Achaemenid period in the history of Khorezm ends in the middle of the 4th c. BC;

2. In the post-Achaemenid period (4th-2nd cc. BC) in the Khorezm left bank appears a new group of cattlemen, who left there their burials in the pits, pits with side chamber, and catacombs.

3. Kurgans with  side chamber and catacomb burials, ceramics alien to Khorezm, and a complex of weapons that includes swords, daggers, bows, and arrows appear in the Khorezm not later then the 3rd c. BC and mark the appearance there of the earliest groups of nomadic populations.

4. Community burials in pits with dromoi and side chamber of the Sakar-Chaga 1 burials (without armaments, with various head orientations of the deceased) belong to the time not earlier than the1st c. BC, and demonstrate the results of adoption by the earlier (3rd c. BC) nomadic groups of local burial traditions. Community and side chamber-catacomb burials of the Tumek-Kichidzhik cemetery (contrary to the conclusions of V.A.Lohovits, 1979) are not synchronous and do not represent a monocultural group.

5. The earliest Horezmian ossuaries are dated at approximately a middle of the 4th c. BC (Weinberg, 1991b, p.129).

It appears that the new archaeological and paleoanthropological materials included in this book support (in terms of ethnogenetical reasoning) the earlier concept of B.I.Weinberg.

Indeed, the community burial in crypts and side chambers of the Sakar-Chaga 1 burials, despite all the difficulties of dating, contain a complex of the Khorasmian ceramics of the late Kuzeligyr or early "Kangar" type. This fact, even with the rejuvenation by half a century of the beginning of the "Kangar" phase, as suggested by B.I.Weinberg, leaves as probable a suggestion of the earlier (4th-2nd cc. BC) dating of the burials, in respect to the side chamber - catacomb complex, which Weinberg dates by "not later than the 3rd c. BC. In a separate article (Maslov, Yablonsky, 1996), which main provisions are reflected in this book, we brought seemingly weighty arguments in favor of a finding that side chamber-catacomb burials with imported pottery and a complex of armaments can not be dated before the end of the 2nd c. BC, and the upper limit of the existence of such burials is the first century AD.

So it turns out that at least from the relative chronology point of view, the Sakarchagin complex represents the earliest wave of migrants from the Ural steppes and forest-steppe that settled in the territory of the Khorezm left bank.

In their funeral ritual especially clear are displayed some archaic features which have parallels in the tombs of the Southern Aral Early Saka time, a presence of the corridor-type entries into the burial chamber, a custom that allows a partial or even complete destruction of relatively older graves in arranging the new graves, a use of fire in the funeral custom, a presence of sand padding at the bottom of the burial chamber. These and other local customs greatly facilitated a transition of local herdsmen to the Zoroastrian funeral tradition in its Khorezm version, which at one time B.I.Weinberg rightly emphasized (1979a, p.52). None of these features can be traced in the graves of just thye very group of nomads who the researcher assigned a role of Sarykamysh pioneers. The layout of the Sakar-chaga dromos graves, surprisingly reminiscent of the residential structures' layout among the Sauromat population during the early Sarmat time in the E.Urals (see: Habdulina, 1994, p.32; Mogilnikov, 1997, p.12 et seq.), the finds of the round-bottom ceramic forms, which also be connected with the Ural regions, all these features are indirect indications in favor of relatively early dating of these complexes. The anthropological data, in turn, indicate a more than likely belonging of the Sakarchagins to the population of the "eastern" Ural type in the Sauromat-Sarmatian time. The appearance of the funerary structures of this type in the Aral Sea region should not be examined out of context of almost analogous in design crypts of the Southern Urals and Eastern Urals, which after the 4th c. BC were no longer found there (Moshkova, 1963, p.18).

However, the existence in Khorezm of community burials in various stages of historical development in pits with dromoi, which are usually accompanied by culturally the same type burials of other types, shows that the parameter of "collectivity" in itself is not sufficiently weighty argument for this territory in favor of the chronological attribution of such structures. This observation requires another explanation. So far one fact is clear: the conclusion of researchers in the archeology of the Sarmatian time Urals, that the community burials with dromoi are the evidence of high social status of the buried people (Smirnov, 1984, p.42; Tairov, Gavrilyuk, 1988, pp. 143) is completely not applicable to Horezmian crypts. However the fact, that in this case the social factors were a key formative element in the funeral tradition, stands without doubts. The Khorezmian written sources dated by the 4th-2nd cc. BC recorded a fact of collaborative effort between the free and the slaves (Itina et al, 1996, p.15). But the hypothesis that allows to link this fact with different ways of burial (communally or individually) is feasible, but at the same time too bold.

The discussion on the arrival chronology of various of cattle breeder groups to the Khorezm territory does not deny a similarity of the general ethnogenetic plan positions: in the 2nd half of the 1st millennium BC to the Sarykamysh territory migrated heterogeneous groups of nomads, some of which transitioned to the sedentary or semi-sedentary lifestyle within a limited territorial area.

In terms of the model constructed by V.A.Shnirelman, this transition means for them a crisis of the traditional husbandry system. The paleodemographic picture assembled from the analysis of major indicators for the population that left Sakar-Chaga 1 cemetery, points to a brevity of this crisis the average age of death in that population is characterized by relatively high numbers, even on modern scale, the skeletons have no pathological changes that would indicate a massive spread of diseases, the sex ratio in the population was normal, and the infant mortality was low. All this is an indirect proof of a short duration of the crisis experienced by this group. We can further assume that this group still at the place of former location had a tendency to semi-sedentary life, and this trend is most pronounced in the early Sarmatian time at the population of the Eastern Urals forest-steppe, whose economy was based on a complex farming. (Culture of E.Urals pastoralists ..., 1997; Mogilnikov, 1997). Equally important for the process of cultural adaptation of the newcomers was a fact that the Eastern Urals forest-steppe people had a long tradition of close relations with the populations of the Saka cultural circle (Tairov, 1993, p.201; Mogilnikov, 1997, p. 103 et seq.).

In general historical perspective, the peopling of the Sarykamysh by culturally diverse groups of pastoralists from the eastern areal of the steppe and forest-steppe was a result of general relocations, precipitated by the political-military (Dandamaev, 1963) and environmental (Ryskov, Demkin, 1997) events. In the course of these events, in the Southern Urals steppes formed an early Sarmat (Prokhorov) culture, anthropological heterogeneity of which is beyond any doubts (Yablonsky, 1997) (this reality conflicts with the 20th century tenet about linguistical homogeneity of the Sarmats, Scythians, Alans, and Ossetians).

In parallel, on a close cultural and anthropological base in the Southern Aral Sea region went on the formation of a culturally discrete ethnos of the Khorezmian pastoralists. The specificity of this process is further emphasized by the custom of artificially deformed head. For the population of the Sarmatian cultural circle this custom is not known yet.

A notable syncretism of the funeral traditions of the Middle Asian pastoralists (in the archaeological literature it received a strange name "Sarmatoid") is due to its multicomponent base, which initially had common traits in the burial traditions with the populations that formed the Sarmatian ethnos.

However, no later than the mid of the 4th c. BC, in the funeral tradition of the Sarykamysh clearly transpired the trends that decisively indicated the irreversible process of cultural and ethnic divergence of the Aral and Ural pastoralists. First of all, we are talking about a mass transition of the Khorezmians to a ritual of burial pre-cleansed human bones in the ossuary vessels. In a "pure form", the earliest manifestations of this custom were archaeologically recorded in kurgan graves of the Tarım-kai 1 cemetery (Weinberg, 1979a). To the period around that same time belong the rare cases of the reburial of the skeleton bones in humcha-like vessels (not a large vessel with handles) (side chamber burials in Sakar-Chaga 1 necropolis) that mark the first steps of transition from inhumation to ossuary burial. However. it must be admitted that a group of eight ossuaries of early Kangar time found by B.I.Weinberg under a mound of one of kurgans on the Tarım-kai hill, in spite of good archaeological investigation of that district, remains the only one dated by such early time (A major incentive to find a new form for the perennial tradition may be that the Kurgan tradition evolved in the northern areas with extended winter season, which allowed to preserve the body of the deceased for extremely long periods. In the northern latitudes or in the mountains, people who died in the autumn, winter, and spring were buried in the early summer, when the ground thawed off. People who died in the summer, were buried the same summer, except for celebrities that had to go through a last round ritual. For those vary rare occasions, elaborate preparations , including mummification and preservation in a casket filled with honey were made. These rituals could not be observed in the desert and oases conditions, and correspondingly a new form of the body preservation was found within the traditional nomadic concept and etiology of the Kurgan tradition. At the same time, conformance to the burial tradition was supremely important for the living, because their wellbeing crucially depended on the deceased successfully reaching his designation. The commonality of the Tengrian beliefs is demonstrated by the spread of kurgans in the Eurasian steppes from one end to another starting a millennium before the Western Cimmerians and Scythians, and by the 6th c. BC Onogur Bulgars on the western end of the steppes sharing their beliefs with their nomadic contemporaries in present Mongolia. The ossuary method may be one of a raster of different approaches that were employed simultaneously, as an adjustment to new climate, and in search of the best solution, and it should take generations to coalesce on a uniform new tradition).

A really massive transition to that ritual, according to the archaeological evidence that we have today, happened not earlier then the 1st c.BC, perhaps in the middle of the the 2nd c. BC,  in the Late Kangar time, the onset of which was marked by the previously discussed global changes in the overall process of historical development in the Khorezm.

In the periodization system of the archaeological monuments in Khorezm this new stage received a name "Late Kangar". The duration of that period in the absolute chronology is determined within the mid 2nd c. BC - 1st c. AD (Nerazik, 1974, p.43).

In that period (ca 150 BC), in the territory of the Khorezm left bank appeared burials with classical nomadic inventory, a rich complex of armaments which included, in particular, composite bows of the "Hun" type. These nomads also brought with them different types of the ceramic vessels, which nevertheless are combined into one group - alien for the Khorezm. The burial chambers are also heterogeneous, among them are pits without additional structures, pits with side chambers, pits with catacombs, pits with longitudinal shelves and wooden ceiling. The diverse nature of the burial chambers and ceramics most likely indicates a cultural heterogeneity of these nomadic groups. In turn, the paleoanthropological data indicate on one side their heterogeneity, and on the other an anthropological specificity in relation to those populations that are recognized as actually Khorezmian. Those cemeteries that we considered to be the earliest in that series (Gyaur-3, some burials of Tumek-Kichidjik and Tarım-kai 1) yielded not numerous and compact group interments. The craniological materials from the Gyaur-3 burials show physical distinction between population that left that cemetery from the previous Khorezmian population. The burials of that type apparently belong to the first group of nomads who retreated to the north after military-political events connected with the fall of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom. The burial complexes with typologically similar lineup of the weapons, and also few in number, also appear at that time around Uzboi (Yusupov, 1986) (The timing and typology favors the arrival of the Tochars/Yuezhi, who were displaced from the Jeti-su in ca 160 BC, remained in Fergana for ca 30 years, and moved to the Aral area at about 130 BC, before assaulting the Greco-Bactrian kingdom. Not all Tochars left from the Aral area, some stayed behind and were noted in the area between Aral and Caspian seas by the Islamic writers. In the Caucasus, Tochars became known under a name Digors. of The Tochars departure from the Aral area coincided with the raids by the Eastern Huns, and the extension of the Eastern Hun state control into the Middle Asia.).

Culturally of same type, but relatively more recent (1st-3rd cc. AD.) burials on the Tuz-gyr upland (and probably Mangyr and Shahsenem) comprise dozens or even hundreds of kurgans containing side chamber and catacomb burials (Lohovits, Khazanov, 1979, p.111). So representative necropolices of that time exist neither around Uzboi nor on Usturt plateau. This may indicate that Uzboi and Usturt plateaus in the end of the 1st millennium BC - early 1st millennium AD became an arena of nomadic groups' movement from the south, but their gradual concentration occurred in the territory of the Khorezm left bank. And apparently that is not accidental.

Investigating the ethno-cultural identity of this type monuments, researchers noted their extraordinary resemblance with the burials of the Bukhara oasis and Fergana (Lohovits, 1968, pp. 156-167), and thought that these Sarykamysh cemeteries were left by the newcomer groups that included "some Sarmatian or Sarmatoid element" (Lohovits, Khazanov, 1979, p.129). B.I.Weinberg (1979b, p.175), emphasized the cultural (in relation to the synchronous Horezmian settlements) specificity of the Tuzgyr burials, and also noted strong economic relations of the people that left them with the population of neighboring agricultural oases.

T.A.Trofimova (1974b), who first published a skull from the south-western group in the Tuzgyr cemeteries, noted firstly their similarity with the Sarmatian skulls, and secondly with the skulls of the synchronous ossuary graves in the Kalala-gyr 1 fortress. These findings in principle agree well with our data. However, it should be clarified that according to our calculation it appeared that the Tuzgyr male craniological series  combination of the indexes displays a greatest similarity with the skulls from the communal and side chamber graves of the Sakar-Chaga 1 burials, which is a funerary complex belonging by all accounts to the Khorezm aborigines. In the same cluster fall the skulls of relatively earlier ossuary graves of the Tarım-cal 2 burials, whose Khoresmian belonging is beyond doubts. In the same article, T.A.Trofimova makes an important and properly justified conclusion that despite the overall similarity, the skulls of the Middle Asia side chamber catacomb burials show signs of some heterogeneity of the population that left these graves. From that perspective, the exceptional similarity of the Tuzgyr series with the series of a known Khorezm origin provides an opportunity to express an important premise. It is that the south-western group of kurgans on the Tuz-gyr upland was left by a Khorezm pastoralist population which took part in the Greco-Bactrian events and then returned to the territory of its ancestral homeland. That is the reason which gave them an opportunity of not only unimpeded resettlement in Khorezm, but also a smooth entry into a variety of contacts with local authorities and local farmers of the Sarykamysh oases. Nevertheless, for some time (the duration can not be determined by the archeological dating methods) they retained a funeral tradition which they acquired during their stay outside of the Khorezm  territory (In this line of logics, the "actual Khorezmians" are genetical descendents of a blend of the western Timber Grave nomads with somewhat Mongoloid eastern "Saka" nomads. Another nomadic group, physically undistinguishable from the "actual Khorezmian" nomads, appeared in a compact area west of the Aral Sea roughly synchronously with the Greco-Bactrian conquest. They are the same people that populated Khorezm, are taken by the locals as their kinfolks, but unlike the Khorezmians, they preserved their old burial traditions. The group that fits the bill is nomadic Tochars/Yuezhi, and the statement that the timing "can not be determined by the archeological dating methods" is precisely the archeological determination of the timing, since the returning conquerors, even if they were badly beaten, would have brought with them a mass of the Greco-Bactrian artifacts, making the burials quite datable. The absence of these artifacts points to a period prior to the  Greco-Bactrian invasion. These communal burials are the consequences of the Tochars' unpleasant experience in being pursued by the heterogeneous Hun troops. The Huns made a deal with the Khorezmian chieftains, accepted their peaceful submission, and drove their old Tochar adversaries loyal to their Tele As leaders out of their domains, and drove them out for good. In the historical records, the sedentary Khorezmians are called Sogdians, and the nomadic Khorezmians are called Saka, Massagets, and Dahae for Tochars. In later sources, they are called Masguts and Digors. The Hun-Masgut symbiosis is recorded in the sources, and equally is recorded the absence of the Hun-Digor symbiosis).

The Sarykamysh necropoleis of the late Kangar time (150 BC-100 AD) allow us to also trace another parallel ethnogenetical line, associated with continuous cultural and historical development pastoral population in the Khorezm periphery. That line archaeologically and anthropologically clearly transpires in the materials of the ossuary cemeteries.

The massive shift to ossuary ritual (and, consequently, rejection of the previous burial traditions), occurred in the Khorezm left bank not before the end of the 2nd c. BC; however, the very possibility of such transition was prepared well in advance of its implementation, because few signs of the Mazdeist beliefs can be traced in the steppe funeral ceremony, including Saka-Massagetan cultural circle, from the ancient times. At the same time, these signs were in a dispersed, "suspended" state, and have not acquired yet a form of a strict canonical structure of the funeral ritual.

Speaking about reasons for a swift transition of large groups of the Khorezm people to the ossuary ritual, should be recalled a brilliant hunch of A.Rapoport, who in his 1971 monograph substantiated the dating of thr Khorezmian ancient ossuaries, 2nd c. BC. At that time the researcher did not yet know about the upcoming discoveries made during excavations on the Tarım-kai and Sakar-Chaga uplands, and made conclusions of a chronological plan based on the study of the written sources. In particular, he referred to the 1st fargard of Videvdat, written exactly in the 2nd c. BC. This passage, according to A. Rapoport, reflects claims of the Arshakid Iran's (i.e. Parthia, or at the most Persia) to a political and ideological hegemony, expressed in a desire to eliminate "sinful" funeral traditions in some countries, one of which (Chagra) could be Khorezm. A.Rapoport further suggests that it is in the the 2nd-1st c. BC in Khorezm entirely prevailed different forms of expository funeral ritual, for a long familiar to the Khwarezmians, and it turned out to be the only acceptable ritual for the Zoroastrian theorists (Rapoport, 1971, p.57-58). In the same context is apparently necessary to recall the B.I.Weinberg hypothesis about destruction of the Khorezm ancient religious structures as a result of a religious reform, and that the destruction date recorded archaeologically belongs to that time.

When external canonization of the Khorezm burials ossuary ritual in the late Kangar time, in the ritual are observed numerous reminiscent indicators that testify, firstly, about the recent canonization, and secondly, about a persistence of the ancient burial customs. First and foremost, we are talking about the construction of kurgan mounds over the ossuaries, about use of the fire in the funeral ceremony, the about the finds in the ossuaries of the accompanying inventory, the about the plans of the kurgans mirroring the concentric ring arrangement of the graves in the kurgans of the early Sarmatian time.

In ethnogenetical aspect, the conclusion based on data from paleoanthropology appear significant. It is that to the ossuary ceremony in the Khorezm  territory transitioned not only the groups of aboriginal people, but also other nomadic populations, who were sporadically settling in the territory subject to the State. However, the same data indicate that along with the processes of economic integration, and the cultural and ideological consolidation of the pastoralist periphery of Khorezm, in the state was actively developing, and by the first centuries AD was mostly completed, the formation of relatively homogeneous anthropological type, which in its basic characteristics is similar to the one that is inherent in the modern representatives of the northern populations groups of the Middle Asian interfluve race (Is not this something, the modern morphology of the Middle Asian population was relatively homogeneous by the beginning of our era, and did not change much over the next 2 millennia, even though it experienced multiple massive intakes of the Türkic populations. To name a few, these are various Huns of the Antique and Late Antique times, Karluks, Uigurs, Ogusez, Late  Middle Age Kimaks and Kipchaks, Uzbeks, and Nogais. On top of it, there were influxes of Mongolian stock, only the Y-chromosome of a single individual, Chingiz Khan, resides in the 10% of the  Middle Asia male populace. And there were other Mongols too. The mass relocations, depicted more like a flood in the historical literature, supposedly caused a nearly complete linguistic Turkification of the enormous in size Middle Asia, but osteologically-wise they had a nearly zero effect. Anybody in a sober state can see the absurdity of the scenario. Something must be wrong, either the modern physical anthropology is completely out of whack, unable to discern between the true Iranians and the Türks even on a high taxonomical level, or the Iranian paradigm is totally out of whack, conjured by over-enthusiastic 20th c. nationalistic or racistic sciences).

Kushan and Early Athrikh periods

The Kushan period in the history of Khorezm usually is dated within the 2nd-3rd cc. AD. The ceramic complexes of that period in the Khorezm settlements are already dated with the finds of coins (Vorobiev, 1959. P.65). Some researchers do not exclude a possibility of the Khwarizmian recognition of the Kushan power, but apparently that period was short-lived, as already in the 3rd c. AD Khorezm resumed minting of its own coins, and its sovereignty at that time is beyond doubt (Nerazik, 1974, p.43).

According to our data, the ossuary funeral tradition at that time was undergoing significant changes. By the 3rd century AD disappear massive construction of  kurgans with circular arrangement of ossuaries. Judging by the materials of the Sakar-Chaga 6 necropolis, ossuaries continued to be buried in the ground, but under very small and often indistinguishable from the surface mounds often were one, less frequently two or three ossuary vessels installed in the burial chambers that modeled side chambers or catacombs in miniature. Along with them is also known an ossuary communal burial in a large pit with dromos and wooden ceiling, which was supported by a complex system of columns, set on stone slabs that mimic bases.

The prevailing forms of ossuaries also change, are arriving new forms. In the late Kangar period, among the Khorezm ossuary necropolises predominated pot-like ossuaries, which coexisted with quite rare elongated box- and sarcophagus-like ossuaries, rarer with a statue. Now the picture is changing, the pot-like ossuaries are found only rarely, the statues disappear altogether, but sarcophagus-like forms become predominant. The covers of some ossuaries are decorated with sculptural images of the head of a horse, or birds (dove) with folded wings. Appeared the first "basin-shaped" ossuaries made from raw clay and smeared on the outside with white alabaster solution. However, in the cemeteries of that period we do not yet meet any yurt-like ossuaries or ossuary with square base, which are widely spred somwhat later. Some ossuaries were installed on the tops of the Early Saka time largest kurgans. These cases indicate a beginning in the formation of the ideas associated with exposing the ossuaries on the open, but high places. In later times, this idea is embodied in the construction of the nauses known, in particular, from the excavations in the vicinity of the Kang-kala fortress.

Along with that, in the materials of the Sakar-Chaga 6 ossuary necropolis can be traced that at that time the funeral traditions still carries many reminiscent signs from the previous eras. Among the ossuary graves are found not only synchronous burials with inhumation in the catacomb chambers, but also group split burials in paired side chamber niches, and in two cases the ossuaries were accompanied by incense burners, in the same category can be included a custom of  installing the ossuaries in not large pits with side chamber niches, an entrance to which was traditionally blocked with slabs of limestone.

The opinion of A. Rapoport (1996, p.73-74) that in the Kushan period, in Khorezm is ongoing a search for new forms of ossuaries, better conforming with the canons of orthodox Zoroastrianism, can be supported. The ossuaries gradually cease to be fetishes, the religious objects, and they more and more gain a single meaning, a container for bones, in a form of a house (yurt) or a parallelepiped sarcophagus on legs.

Considering the new materials and the dating of ossuaries cross-referenced with the stratified dating of the Khorezm monuments, the necropolis in the Kalaly-gyr 1 fortress must be "rejuvenated". The early period of its formation can be attributed to the time not earlier than the 3rd c. AD, and apparently the main period of functioning within the 4th c. AD.

From that time in Khorezm forms a new burial tradition, where first the ossuaries, and then also incomplete complement of human bones, sometimes only a skull, were exposed in the abandoned fortresses, or stacked in the crenels of the walls and towers.

A special place among the monuments of the Kushano-Athrikh (Afrosiab/Athrosiab ?) period in the left bank Khorezm occupy the burials containing pre-cleansed bones of people with artificially deformed ( ring-type deformation) heads. A benchmark monument in this sense is a cemetery Yasa gyr-4. The materials of that cemetery, together with numerous other data from the settlements and fortresses are directly related to the global changes in the ethno-political map of Kazakhstan, Middle Asia and N.Pontic steppes which followed the Hun invasion.

The archaeological, anthropological, numismatic and other data testify in favor of Syr Darya, and possibly a more eastern (down to the Northern Mongolia) origin of the newcomers (Nerazik, 1974, p.51-52; Weinberg, 1979b, p.177; Yablonsky, Bolelov, 1991, p.32-33).

E.E.Nerazik (1974, p.51 et seq.) cites a whole complex of archaeological evidence on the profound changes in the lives of the Khorezm people, which in the 4th-5th c. AD led to form a culture very different from the culture of that state in the Antiquity Period and Hellenism.

In the territory of the Amu Darya Sarykamysh delta, that period (2nd-3rd cc. AD) belongs to the final stages in the ethnogenesis of the early pastoral population in the Khorasmian periphery. At that time a deep and protracted crisis of the region pastoralist culture was again caused by purely environmental change, at that time occurred a new drying of the Amu Darya Sarykamysh delta, Sarykamysh Lake, and Uzboi channel. This process was traced by B.I.Weinberg (1991b, 1997). As a result, until the 10th century, on the abandoned lands of the ancient irrigation were developing aftermath landscapes. A new stage in the ethnogenesis was developing there from the 10th c. to the 16th century. But in the the 17th century, because of the environmental crisis, the local population once again was forced to leave the territory. A short-term development of irrigated landscape in the 19th c.- beg. of the 20th c. again ended with an environmental crisis (Glushko, 1996, p.35-36) which, despite all the factors of human influence, and largely due to these factors, continues to grow.

Thus, the objective process leading to creation of preconditions for the formation of a single ethnic group in Khorezm was never straightforward and ascending. It was periodically interrupted by external factors: environmental, military, political, forced social (potestar), and religious, which could act together or separately. Periodically, this process was realigned by the appearance in the territory of Southern Aral Sea region of new and new nomadic groups. A part of them, at each chronological period settling in the Khorezm periphery, accorded their cultural and genetic contributions to the development of the ethno-historical and anthropological situation in the region.

The main lines of the ethnogenesis in the pastoral periphery of Khorezm flowed in the general pattern of the human society development known from ethnology. Consequently, they, in turn, can serve as models for solving ethno genetic problems in other regions, especially in the oases of Middle Asia and Kazakhstan. Naturally, they must be modified in respect to specific ethnogeneses in the local areas.

A systematic approach to the study of materials of different periods cemeteries allowed to solve several ethnogenetic problems. The quality and reliability of conclusions made are contingent on the degree of modern archaeological and paleoanthropological knowledge of the region. So, The issues related to the absolute chronological attributes of individual funerary complexes remain contentious.

The weight of already accumulated scientific data is so large that a number of questions, including important ones in terms of general historical outline remained unaddressed in this study. They need special and more in-depth exploration. From that perspective, the author certainly does not consider this study as a final word. Nevertheless, it certainly caps a stage in the ethnogenetic study of of the Southern Aral burial sites in the middle of 1st millennium BC - middle of 1st millennium AD.

 
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3/10/2010
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