During 1994-1996 we conducted archaeological research in southeast Kazakstan 20 km east of Almaty. Our research was funded by grants from the National Geographic Society and the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. Our research focuses on the late Iron Age through the medieval Periods (600 BC to 1350 AD). During the past three summers we have conducted block excavations at Tuzusai with our colleagues from the Kazak National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Archaeology, The Central Museum, & The Ministry of Culture.
The Talgar area is watered by the Talgar River fed by the melt water of the Tien Shan Mountain glaciers. A large alluvial fan at the base of the Tien Shan Mountains marks the juncture between the foothills and the broad steppe. This alluvial fan is over 150 square kilometers in area and has excellent soil for cultivation. The contemporary city of Talgar is located at the base of the Tien Shan Mountains. Medieval Talgar is a UNESCO World Heritage Silk Road City.
Since 1994 I have co-directed an archaeological project on late Iron Age through Mongol period sites in southeastern Kazakhstan with Dr. Karl M. Baipaikov, Director of the Archaeological Institute at the Kazakh National Academy of Sciences. We have been researching the development of Eurasian steppe culture along the Great Silk Route and extensive caravan and trade networks between China, across Europe, Asia, the Mediterranean, and Central Asia that originated in the second half of the first millenium B.C. Our collaborative team of Kazakh and Western scientists and archaeologists have collected geological, environmental, and archaeological data from the Talgar region, an area about 25 km from the capital city of Almaty in Southeastern Kazakhstan. The medieval city of Talgar, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was a major Silk Route administrative center from the 9th century AD through the Mongol period (1350 AD). The city was located on the eastern side of the Talgar River, just below the foothills of the Tien Shan Mountains.
At this time we have completed three field seasons of excavations at Tuzusai, a late-Iron Age settlement 12 kilometers northwest of Talgar, near the northern most edge of the Talgar River alluvial fan. In addition, we have conducted archaeological survey east of Talgar in Soldier's Valley. The results from this survey include sites from the Bronze Age through the Czarist Period.
For more detailed information on our research, read our 1996 field report and take a look at our photographs.
During the summer of 1997, we will start the next three year phase of our research with a three year National Science Foundation Grant. We will conduct additional survey of the surrounding area of Talgar and two river systems to the east and test some of the sites located during the survey.
Join us by reading our updates during the 1997 field season as we learn more about the prehistory of the Talgar Area. Archaeological survey will continue during the fall of 1997 and the spring of 1998. Laboratory work and analysis will continue during the winter and spring of 1998. For further information contact:
Summer of 1997
Dr. Claudia Chang
Department of Anthropology and Sociology
Sweet Briar, VA 24595