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Early Iron Age

Early Iron Age

The Iron Age – the third after stone and bronze centuries the large archaeological period. Its first stage received the name the early Iron Age.

So the major era in the history of the mankind which beginning coincides from the beginning of wide application of this metal was called. Since the beginning of the I millennium BC up to the present iron is a basis of material culture of all mankind. All important opening are connected with this metal in the field of production technology of this time.

Iron - special metal. It has higher, than copper, melting temperature. In pure form gland in the nature isn't present, and process of its smelting of ore is very difficult because of its infusibility.

The beginning of the early Iron Age in Kazakhstan falls on the VIII-VII centuries BC.

To approach of the early Iron Age on open spaces of Eurasia there are really global changes in life of steppe ethnoses. This era coincided with transition of the pastoral, cattle breeding and agricultural tribes living in steppes from Mongolia in the east to Danube in the West, to mobile forms of a cattle breeding economy at the heart of which the strict system of a seasonal regulation of pastures and water sources lies. These special forms of maintaining a steppe cattle breeding economy in an europocentrical science of new and latest time receive the name "nomadic", «a semi-nomadic economy».

Transition to new forms of maintaining a cattle breeding economy grew out of development of economy of tribes of the bronze age living in special conditions of steppe ecosystems. Bases of this form of managing developed already the period of final bronze, during a begazy-dandybay era. According to experts, to transition to mobile forms of cattle breeding promoted not only internal development of the population of steppes, but also an shrinkage of steppes owing to gradual climate change. For that era this transition was the phenomenon progressive, it gave the chance to use natural resources of steppes as much as possible.

From the beginning of the early Iron Age in steppes of Eurasia created large breeding associations. Collision of their interests, specific relationship with the surrounding settled and agricultural people generating a certain militarization of their societies. On the historical arena there are people which Greeks and Persians call "Scythians", "juice", “Sauromates”. Thanks to the ethnic relationship, an identical level of development and a conduct of life, close connections, close cultures are created. During a scythian-saka era in material culture of tribes there are special types of arms, horse equipment, the peculiar art which has received the name « scythian-saka animal style» is widely adopted. Sometimes these three parties of material culture of the steppe population of the early Iron Age call «a Scythian triad».

The steppe population of the early Iron Age quickly develops, metallurgy, a trading exchange prospers. There are representatives of a rich breeding top: "tsars", military nobility. The big "imperial" barrows, difficult tombs where considerable products on the value, among which ornaments, the weapon are buried with the dead representatives of the nobility extend, etc.

In a modern science opinions on achievement of society of the steppe population of the early Iron Age of an early national level are expressed. Concerning a level of development of the steppe people of the I millennium BC the Siberian scientists offered the term «Steppe civilization».

In the territory of the Central Kazakhstan this era is presented by monuments of tasmolin archaeological culture. Known Kazakhstan archeologist M.K.Kadyrbayev defined its chronological framework the VII-III centuries BC, allocating two stages in its development. Characteristic type of monuments of tasmolin culture are so-called barrows with "moustaches". These are the difficult funeral and funeral complexes constructed from a stone. They usually consist of three parts: a big barrow, a small barrow and stone paths in the form of semi-arches ("moustaches"), length from 60 to 200 m. These "moustaches" adjoin barrows and always are turned to the east. Under a big barrow in a soil hole, depth about two meters are burial of the person. In a small barrow remains of horses – skeletons, or their parts, clay vessels, as a rule, meet. And sometimes only fire traces in the form of coals and the burned soil.

For what barrows with "moustaches" were under construction? The hypothesis of astronomical purpose of barrows with "moustaches" is known. According to the biologist and the enthusiast of archeology P.I.Marikovsky, barrows with "moustaches" were ancient observatories and served for supervision over the star sky, the sun and the moon, for definition of seasons. It is possible that complexes with "moustaches" could be used for astronomical definitions, but it hardly was the main thing at their construction. Sometimes such barrows are at distance of several kilometers from each other, on some burial grounds is available on two barrows with "moustaches". Why to build two "observatories" when for supervision over the sky it is enough and one? M.K.Kadyrbayev's opinion which considered is most reasonable that complexes with stone "moustaches" were constructions of funeral and ritual appointment and reflected ideas of the solar cult existing at tasmolin tribes.

As a whole, the tasmolin culture is studied on the basis of materials of kurgan’s burials. The data which have laid down in a basis of the characteristic of this culture, form three known blocks: а) arms subjects; б) horse harness; в) cult products, ornaments and life subjects. In the society of tasmolints there were fine masters of bronze business. From bronze all leading categories of material culture are executed. Iron products (knifes, psalm, plaques) appear already at the first stage (the VII-VI centuries BC) . Tasmolin tips of arrows of an early stage - twofeather socketed and threefeather with rather long scape - genetically go back to tips of begazy-dandybay culture. Daggers with the form of the bar, fungoid pomel and a figured hilt are characteristic; fighting type-setting belts. A bit enters into a horse bridle with the in the form of the stapes terminations, bronze or horn psalm with three openings. Among subjects of a cult there are disciform Gold figures of tigers, bronze sculptures are typical for applied art tauteke, the figures of a wild boar engraved on a bronze mirror and an elk, horn buckles in the form of the wild boars curtailed into a spiral. In the form of a figure of a wild boar the handle of one massive mirror with a figured side is cast. By the end of an early stage there are multifigured compositions in style so-called «a zoological puzzle». One of them - a plot on a horn buckle - finds surprising analogy in aldybel monuments of Tuva. The jewels decorated with equipment grain and incrustation are found. At the second stage there are changes in material culture: the standard form of bronze threeshovel  socketed tips of arrows comes, mirrors decrease, iron etc. is much more widely used. The third, korgantay stage, is the period of end of tasmolin culture. Along with preservation of some old elements of culture (tips of arrows, bridle plaques, etc.), there is a number of an innovation, especially in a funeral ceremony (intra sepulchral head altars).

The Tasmolin culture of the early Iron Age occurred in all territory of the Kazakh low hill. The studied monuments, determine the western border of culture near Ulytau's mountains, southern - by Northern Betpakdal and Northern Pribalkhash, east — on prishidertinsk and bayanaul steppes and further to the South to Shubartau. In these limits there are open and known barrows of tasmolin culture. There are adjacent territories where in the future opening of monuments of this culture (steppe spaces to Shyngystau's ridge is expected).

In this big territory tribes of the early Iron Age were settled non-uniformly. The main part of the population concentrated in mountain-steppe areas.

In the early Iron Age when tasmolin tribes widely lived the new progressive type of managing – nomadic cattle breeding extended. Almost for three millennia it became the main occupation of inhabitants of steppes. Nomads mastered all territory of steppes, created powerful nomadic associations which became prototypes of future nomadic empires.



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