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Kangyu era jewelry found in Kazakhstan.

2,000-year-old Jewelry and Mirror from Enigmatic Kangyu Culture Found

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Archaeologists in Kazakhstan have unearthed significant historical artifacts from three burial mounds in the Tolebaitobe cemetery, Turkestan region. Among these finds is a remarkable bronze mirror from the Han dynasty, shedding light on the little known of Kangyu state and its connections with powerful empires of the time. 

Unearthing the Burial Mounds 

The excavation of the Tolebaitobe cemetery in Karaaspanskogo rural district, of the Turkestan region of southern Kazakhstan revealed three burial mounds, which have provided a treasure trove of artifacts. The find has been reported in a statement by the Turkestan regional government. One of the most notable discoveries is a bronze mirror found in a woman's grave. This mirror, dated to the Han dynasty, indicates the high social status of the deceased. Such items were typically reserved for the wealthy and influential. 

 The bronze mirror found in one of the burial mounds seems from its distinctive style to have been made in China during the Han dynasty, about 2,000 years ago.

The bronze mirror found in one of the burial mounds seems from its distinctive style to have been made in China during the Han dynasty, about 2,000 years ago. (Turkistan regional administration of Republic of Kazakhstan) 

The mirror is round with a hole in the center for threading, and its front side features eight arches. Similar mirrors have been previously discovered in Tillya Tepe, Afghanistan, and in the burial sites of Sarmatian kings in the Southern Urals, as well as in the tombs of the nomadic Xiongnu (Hunnu) from the Shanyu Asian Empire. These connections highlight the extensive trade and cultural exchange along the Silk Road during the Kangyu era. 

Artifacts from the Kangyu Era 

The Kangyu state, was a Central Asian polity that existed from the 2nd century BC to the 4th century AD. It was located in the Syr Darya basin, encompassing parts of modern-day Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan. The Kangyu people were known for their skills in horseback riding and archery, and engaged in trade and cultural exchanges along the Silk Road. They maintained a semi-nomadic lifestyle, although they established several fortified cities. The Kangju state played a significant role in the region's history, influencing neighboring tribes and states through both warfare and diplomacy. 

The researchers found that two of the three burial mounds had been plundered in ancient times, but the third mound contained valuable relics that have withstood the test of time. Among the discoveries were a jug, the bronze mirror, a fibula bone used as a pin in the Roman period, earrings, beads, a shoe, a belt buckle, and a bird-hunting arrowhead. 

The earrings, inlaid with gold, turquoise, and noble ruby, were made in the polychrome style and shaped like the moon, reflecting the artistry of the period. The decoration's lower edge, resembling grape seeds and sunlight, points to the intricate craftsmanship associated with the Sarmatian world and Kangyu culture during the 1st century BC to the 1st century AD. 

 The two gold earrings found in one of the burial mounds

The two gold earrings found in one of the burial mounds are crescent-shaped and inlaid with gemstones. The decorations on their lower edges are supposed to represent clusters of grapes. (Turkistan regional administration of Republic of Kazakhstan) 

Connections with Powerful Empires 

The artifacts unearthed at Tolebaitobe offer a glimpse into the Kangyu state's relations with other major empires. The Kangyu, which included Asiatic Sarmatians, Xiongnu (Hunnu), Kangyu, and later Saki, maintained diplomatic and trade connections with Rome, Byzantium, the Kushan Empire, and China. This interaction facilitated the exchange of goods, ideas, and culture along the Great Silk Road, contributing to the flourishing of large cities in the region. 

Professor Alexander Podushkin, the head of the archaeological expedition and a doctor of historical sciences, emphasized the historical significance of these artifacts. He noted that the discoveries would be transferred to the National Museum, where they would be preserved and studied further. The research team from the Ordabasin National Historical and Cultural Reserve also played a crucial role in this study. 

Significance of the Discoveries 

The findings at Tolebaitobe cemetery not only enrich our understanding of the Kangyu state but also highlight the interconnectedness of ancient civilizations. The bronze mirror, with its intricate design and historical context, serves as a testament to the wealth and influence of the Kangyu elite. The diverse array of artifacts, including Roman-era fibulae and polychrome earrings, underscores the cultural and economic exchanges that occurred along the Silk Road. 

These discoveries provide valuable insights into the social hierarchy, trade practices, and artistic achievements of the Kangyu people. They also offer a tangible connection to the broader historical narrative of Central Asia and its role in the ancient world's complex web of relationships. 

As these artifacts find their place in the National Museum, they will continue to inspire and educate future generations about the remarkable history of the Kangyu state and its connections with the great empires of antiquity. 

Top image: Kangyu era jewelry found in Kazakhstan. Source: Turkistan regional administration of Republic of Kazakhstan 

 
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