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Saka Kurgans of Besshatyr – Kazakhstan

February 26, 2008

KurganThe Besshatyr kurgans complex (V-IV centuries B.C.) is one of the most impressive and best known historical monuments of Kazakhstan and the most significant remain of the hypertrophic funerary works of the classic Early-Iron Saka culture of Semirechie.

It is located in the territory of the National State Natural Park Altyn-Emel (Almaty province). The kurgans complex consists of 31 kurgans located 4 km from the right bank of the Ili river.

The biggest kurgans reach 15 m high with a diameter of up to 100 m. They were erected by stone and earth layers loaded above a wooden frame construction standing above a catacomb chamber reached by underground tunnel. The complex was studied in the years 1954-1961, but since that time, the monument has not been investigated, nor have any conservation-restoration-exhibition measures been taken.

The main objective of the fieldwork in 2008 is to focus on several basic tasks never done before, which are, in order of priority, as follows: geoarchaeological study (mapping, paleolandscape); archaeological study (excavation, possibly including the kurgan complex with the use of new technologies); restoration of former excavations and elaboration of some first plans and steps for conservation, accessibility and exhibition to visitors.

During the fieldwork the volunteers will have the opportunity to survey and visit the other interesting sites of the region: petroglyph sites, the high sand dunes, archaeological complex of the Chilik delta. Volunteers will be introduced to modern techniques of preliminary geographical study using satellite, aerial photography and detailed maps. Microlight flight will provide the possibility of aerial exploration and photography. Documentation will be provided by traditional and new advanced methods (GIS, digital-video).Minimum age
20 year old

Room and Board arrangements
The camp is in tents with a stationary camp and an itinerary one moving along the Chulak range and the Ili river. Volunteers should bring a sleeping bag, a mat, a sweater, some strong shoes, and a flashlight.

Dates:  15 July – 31 August 2008

Cost: $300 per week



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