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Pazyryk Horseman From Central Asia

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Pazyryk horsemen and steppe nomads (like Scythians), lived (6-4th C B.C.) in the Altai Mountains by China, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia. (More below...)
Pazyryk Horseman. c 300 B.C. Detail from a carpet in the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.

Pazyryk Horseman. c 300 B.C. Detail from felt in the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.

Photo by PHG
Pazyryk is the name of an ancient people who used the stone covered burial mound or "kurgan" typical of Scythian, Sarmatian, and the Siberian Pazyryk cultures. Pazyryk is the location of a chain of 26 such kurgans covering about a half mile. Beginning in the 1920s, archaeologists excavating the Pazyryk burial mounds have found the embalmed body of a tattooed man from c. 300-290 B.C., textiles, wagons, horses, bridles, saddles, and more artifacts, preserved by having been frozen.

Xavier Jordana, of Spain's Universitat Auto'noma de Barcelona, led a 2-year study of the Pazyryk burial mounds that examined the causes of death of 10 individuals, as reported in archaeologydaily.com/news/index.php?/Think-your-life-is-bad-Archaeologists-show-us-worse.html (Archaeology Daily). Jordana says half the sample died violently, either in battle or as sacrificial victims, and there seems to have been an effort at scalping.

For information on the art and excavations in this area of permafrost, see:

  • Early Cultures of the Lands of the Scythians, by Boris Piotrovsky The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin © 1973 The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • The Chinese Mirror from Pazyryk, by John F. Haskins Archives of the Chinese Art Society of America © 1964.
  • State Hermitage Museum : Southern Siberia/Pazyryk
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