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0029 Explorations in Turkestan 1903 : vol.1
Explorations in Turkestan 1903 : vol.1 / Page 29 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000177
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In our earliest historical records we find the country occupied as now by dwellers in numerous cities, surrounded by deserts in which lived nomad peoples. The town dwellers seem to have been at least largely of Aryan stock and the nomads of Turanian.

Who were the contemporaneous and the successive dwellers in the many towns ? To what different races may they have belonged ? Whence did they come into the land ? What were their civilizations and what their relations to other civilizations and to those of the modem world ? These are our questions, and they can be answered only to a greater or less extent by a study of the results of excavation and in the concentrated light of comparative science in archeology, ethnology, and language and of survivals in arts and customs ; for the answers to some of these questions will be found rooted deep in the human strata of the ancient world. Asia abounds in the fragmentary survivals of stocks, arts, customs, and languages.

The vestiges of former occupation by man are varied in character—in the eastern mountains are pictographic inscriptions recalling those of American aborigines, some rock sculpturing, and rough stone idols. At Lake Son Kul Professor Davis describes stone circles, recalling some of the dolmen-like forms, and at Issik Kul submerged buildings were reported in the lake.

Along the river courses are abandoned canals which can no longer be supplied with water, and the Russian maps abound in indications of ruined towns, " forts," etc. The most important remains are the tumuli and the town sites..


The tumuli proper are accumulations of earth, of rounded, generally symmetrical form, often more or less elliptical in horizontal section. We met with them first along the base of the mountains east of the Caspian, but I saw none at a lower elevation than 25o feet above that sea. From this point eastward they abounded, with some interruptions, as far as to near Andizhan.. Generally they were largeioo to 200 feet long and 3o to 50. feet high. They are much more abundant east of the Oxus than to the west. At one point I counted fifteen in sight at once. Besides these larger tumuli, there are, especially along the Syr Darya in Fergana, localities with a great number of small mounds a few yards only in diameter, suggesting burial after battles.

Mounds more or less resembling the larger ones are described by De Morgan at points in northern Persia, and they occur through southern Siberia and on the plains of southern Russia and of Hungary. In all these countries they probably have different origins—different reasons for their existence. Those in Siberia and on the Black Sea have been extensively excavated. There has been some unsatisfactory excavation of those in Turkestan, mostly with unrecorded results. The kurgan at Anau, near Askhabad, which was trenched some years ago by General Komorof, afforded the best exposure of internal structure. It is nearly 200 feet long by 4o feet high and slightly elliptical in horizontal section. It consists of fine, horizontally_ stratified layers of made earth. Layers of silt and broken cobbles