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Поволжская археология

Zoroastrian Funerary Vessels from South Kazakhstan

Baitanayev B.A., Zheleznyakov B.A. (Almaty, Kazakhstan)

page 119–129

UDC 903/904 (574/575)


(427.91 Kb)
The paper describes two ceramic funerary vessels from Southern Kazakhstan. The first one is an oval elongated ossuary (solid, with no lid or ornamentation, on legs), discovered in the middle reaches of the Arys river. The second vessel is a khum with a lid and special lugs on the body for tying the lid, discovered near Shymkent settlement, possibly on its Early Medieval necropolis. This vessel is exhibited in the Museum of Local Lore of Shymkent.These unique findings are associated to the Zoroastrian/Mazdean burial technique of the Middle Syr Darya region. According to scientific information, since the 5th century AD the catacomb burial rite was replaced with the Naous rite across the entire right bank of the Syr Darya. This rite consisted in subsequent final burial of bone remains in ceramic vessels or other containers, or without them, in dedicated locations of the landscape, not associated with the active life of society. The discovery of the ossuary and funerary khum is extremely important for the reconstruction of the local version of the Zoroastrian funerary rite of the region practiced in the 5th – 8th centuries AD.


archaeologyossuarykhum – bone depositorynausSouthern KazakhstanArys river valley

About the author(s)

Baitanayev Bauyrzhan A. Academician of the National Academy of the RK. Doctor of Historical Sciences. Director of the Institute of Archaeology after A. H. Margulan. Dostyk Ave., 44, Shevchenko Str., 28, Almaty, 050010; Аl-Farabi Kazakh National university, al-Farabi Ave., 71, the Republic of Kazakhstan;

Zheleznyakov Boris А. Аl-Farabi Kazakh National university, al-Farabi Ave., 71, Almaty, 050040, Republic of Kazakhstan; A. Kh. Margulan Institute of Archaeology, Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Dostyk Ave., 44, Shevchenko St., 28, Almaty, 050010, Republic of Kazakhstan;