sábado, 1 de marzo de 2014

Polovtsian statues of Eastern Europe (Ukraine)

In 2008, a team of archaeologists and conservators from Poland and Czech Republic undertook maintenance work on a remarkable collection of anthropomorphic 11th and 12th century AD figures at the Veliklanadolskyi Forest Museum in Eastern Ukraine.
De Gruyter Open has now published the “Monumental Polovtsian Statues in Eastern Europe. The Archaeology, Conservation and Protection” by Aneta Gołębiowska-Tobiasz in an Open Access Book, presenting the well-documented and illustrated history of the research on the Cuman (Kipchak ) stone stelae.

Memorials to the dead

Anthropomorphic stelae such as these were erected as memorials to the dead and are found in both individual burial and cemetery contexts dating from the Neolithic right through to the Middle Ages.
The art of creating stelae has been recorded in several cultures before appearing amongst the Turkic peoples of Central Asia. Stone statues associated with the early Turks appeared in the vast territory of the Asian steppes that stretches from the southern foothills of the Ural Mountains, through Kazakhstan into Mongolia. Their origins and the cultural significance can be interpreted in a variety of ways, and many issues still remain regarding their construction and meaning.
The book seeks to uncover the phenomenon of the sculptures in relation to the migration of the Turkic nomads, from the perspective of archaeology and conservation, exploring the diffusion of the stelae, their evolution and the latest hypothesis of the sculptures relating not only to ritual beliefs but possible political significance.

Tradition disappeared

The tradition disappeared abruptly with the fall of the Polovtsians and the rapid spread of Islam. This book provides a new perspective for archaeologists and historians on these imposing and yet neglected monuments. “The book is not only innovative”,  says Igor Leonidovich Kyzlasov, Head of Medieval Archaeology at the Russian Academy of Sciences, “but it also accurately documents the complex process, and the results of restoration and conservation of the monuments“.
During fieldwork and rescue excavations carried out in the 1980s, mounds with burials belonging to the Pechenegs as well as Polovtsian kurgans were discovered.  The Polovtsians conquered the area of the Azov steppes relatively early in the 11th century AD.  The rich pastures and abundance of water in the new sprawling land under their control ensured the groups moved from nomadism towards seasonal horse pastoralism within a closed cycle of encampments. In addition to favourable environmental conditions, a crucial role was played by the density of old kurgan cemeteries located in the  watersheds of rivers. The Polovtsians used these previously  erected mounds as burial or cult places, often putting athropomorphic statues on their summits. In this way, they used the already sacred spaces during both funeral ceremonies.

The book is available to read, download and share open access here:


Source: Past Horizons: http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/02/2014/polovtsian-statues-of-eastern-europe

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