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Archaeo News 

7 February 2012
Nomads and Networks: Ancient Art and Culture of Kazakhstan

When one thinks of historic Kazakhstan, a vision of rough-riding, nomadic, gypsy-like people on horseback, traversing a vast, flat, steppe-like landscape, comes to mind. The ancient cultural and artistic achievements of this people might surprise you, however.
     The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University (ISAW) will present the first U.S. exhibition with a comprehensive overview of the unique nomadic culture of ancient Kazakhstan. On view from March 7 through June 3, 2012, 'Nomads and Networks: The Ancient Art and Culture of Kazakhstan' focuses on the peoples of the Altai and Tianshan regions from the eighth to first centuries BCE.
     Artefacts include bronze openwork offering-stands, superbly decorated with animal and human figures; petroglyphs marking important places in the landscape; and sophisticated gold adornments that marked the social status of those who wore them. A highlight is recently excavated, never-displayed material from a fourth-third century cemetery near the Russian/Chinese border, where permafrost conditions enabled the preservation of organic materials. Included here are such objects as saddles and expertly carved horse trappings that display hybrid mythical animals, among a variety of other artefacts.
     Kazakhstan has been inhabited since the Neolithic Age, and archaeologists believe that humans first domesticated the horse in this region. Horse-riding defined their activities, and equestrianism and horse-racing remains a national passion.

Edited from Popular Archaeology (3 February 2012)

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