Tsrpmummies's Blog

04 – Burials & Artifacts

Burial chambers excavated at Qizilchoqa are dated at around 1200 B.C. Most of the mummies were found placed on their backs with their knees drawn up to the chest. This position allowed the bodies to fit into small burial chambers. They are fully clothed, their clothing were remarkably colourful with the items mostly made from wool, they also had felt or leather boots and sometimes leather coats. The artifacts found in the chambers were inexpensive, they were buried with pottery and some simple everyday items: combs made of wood, needles of bone, spindle whorls for spinning thread, hooks, bells, loaves of bread, and other food offerings. These artifacts indicate that the deceased were peaceful people ,the items buried with them did not include weapons or much clues to their social status and wealth, however, had there been bronze items or other precious items, they probably would have been plundered by grave robbers long ago.

Sketch of Subashi female mummy (Original image from: http://www.karakalpak.com/images/postin16.jpg)

Although social status was not commonly shown, there are examples of social differentiation, at another cemetery called Subashi. Three female mummies with flowing brown hair wearing 13-inch pointed felt hats of brown wool with wide brims was excavated, the reminiscent of the headgear has been described as similar to those seen in Persian bas-reliefs, to those of the Saka culture and to witches hats. The females wore sheepskin cloaks, beneath they wore long sleeved blouses and magnificent woollen skirts fastened to their waists with a cord of four colours; reminiscent of the braids found in Qizilchoqa. The skirts reached their ankles they also wore a pouch with herbs. Some scholars state that perhaps they were healers or witch doctors or that they were royalty or priestesses, nonetheless their hats represented their role and status of prestige within the community.

(Original image from: http://i27.tinypic.com/25akbj4.jpg)

Clothing & Weaving

Anthropologist Irene Good, a specialist in early Eurasian textiles examined the cloth provided by Victor Mair from one of the excavated mummies, under a low-power microscope and discovered that the material was not wool at all. Wool comes from the undercoat of a sheep, instead this material appears to be spun from kemp the coarse outer hair of a sheep or goat. It was carefully dyed green, blue, and brown to make a plaid design and woven into a diagonal twill pattern that indicates that it must have been the product of a rather sophisticated loom. Good describes the technique as “characteristically European”, stating that the textile is “the easternmost known example of this kind of weaving technique” moreover, similar contemporaneous textile fragments, have been recovered from at sites as far west as Germany, Austria, and Scandinavia. Another hypothesis states that the early Tarim inhabitants must have imported their woolly sheep and their knowledge of wool-working from much farther west. The plaid twills found in the region bear a resemblance to the Proto-Keltic cloth found from the salt mines at Hallstatt and Hallein in Europe, suggesting that both the eastern and western “Keltic” clothing derived from a region around the Caucasus.

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