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Gold of the Great Steppe (Hardback)

People, Power and Production

Hobbies & Lifestyle > Art

Imprint: Paul Holberton Publishing
Pages: 160
Illustrations: 80
ISBN: 9781911300915
Published: 28th November 2021



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This catalogue accompanies an exhibition which presents artefacts from burial mounds of the Saka people of East Kazakhstan, who, over 2,500 years ago, lived lives rich in complexity.


The Saka people occupied a landscape of seemingly endless steppe to the west, bounded by mountains to the east and south. Known to be fierce warriors, they were also skilled craftspeople, producing intricate gold and other metalwork. Their artistic expression indicates a deep respect for the animals around them – both real and imagined. They dominated their landscapes with huge burial mounds of sophisticated construction, burying their horses with elite members of their society. Recent excavations and analyses, led by archaeologists from Kazakhstan, have demonstrated that by looking through a scientific and social lens at what the Saka left behind we can paint a picture of a complex society. We can start to understand how it affected the way people lived, how they travelled, the things they made and what they believed in.


Including contributions from experts at Nazarbayev University, Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, and the University of Cambridge, this publication details the results of new archaeological research from East Kazakhstan. It is richly illustrated with photographs of intricate gold artefacts in the Saka-Scythian animal style, landscape and aerial photography of the burial mounds, and details of the excavations and analyses. Grounded in decades of careful study, papers by the two leading Kazakhstani archaeologists of the East Kazakhstan region, Professors Zainolla Samashev and Abdesh Toleubayev, demonstrate current archaeological thinking in Kazakhstan today. These papers are complemented by material from a team of international scholars, which contribute the results of new scientific analyses on the artefacts, and wider Eurasian perspectives on the Saka people and their practice of horse burial.

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