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Stratum plus. 1999. № 5

L. S. Geraskova (Kiev, Ukraine— Bucarest, Romania)

The New Data in Study of Monumental Sculpture of Medieval Nomads

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Pages: 408-430

The sculpture of the medieval Turkic-speaking nomads of Euroasian steppes is one of the many sources that can provide information about culture, history, ethnic and social structure of the societies which left them. However, any knowledge of the primary location of these statues being lost, receiving this information  is made difficult, as the statues were subjected to secondary use and were moved from their primary places. The geological-petrographic method used for determination of rock of which the statues were manufactured helped restore the lost knowledge. Owing to the peculiarities of these rocks, the major number of statues were “linked” to their analogous outcrops. The materials used to manufacture the statues found “in situ” compared with their analogous outcrops showed that sculptures were not brought far from the place of their manufacture in antiquity. Mapping of the abruptions used in manufacture of the statues helped localise the places of possible quarries and workshops of sculpture manufacture. As a result, 6 areas in East-European steppes and 6 areas in Asian ones were distinguished. The results obtained based on geological-petrographic analysis were checked then by means of traditional archaeological methods, which confirmed the conclusions. The distinguished geological areas turned out to be represented by statues with explicit ethnographic peculiarities allowing seeing in them a reflection of actual ethnic processes in Middle Ages. East-European steppes allowed to distinguish two vast areas: the Black and the White Cumania, the two areas very well traced by sculptures material. Thus, the Black Cumania localised in the Donbass region and Caucasus foothills is chiefly represented by the statues of sitting persons without any “background”, their clothes ornamented with round lines or without any ornament. The White Cumania, with its centre in the Black Sea – Dnieper region, is mainly represented by statues of standing persons with the “background”. Their clothes are normally ornamented with broken lines. The statues of this group often have images of animals and horsemen. Asian steppes revealed peculiar features determining the sculpture of the Western and Eastern Turkic Khaganates (Nomadic Empires), as well as a region that by the percentage of various iconographic types of statues turned out to be very similar to the East-European region where the statues of Ancient Turkic type were spread. Use of geological-petrographic analysis allowed restoring partly the lost knowledge about the statues and obtaining conclusions that do not contradict the known historical facts.



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