Τρίτη, 19 Οκτωβρίου 2010

Por-Bajin: Μυστηριώδη μεσαιωνικά ερείπια στο κέντρο μιας λίμνης στη Σιβηρία / Mysterious medieval ruins at the center of a Siberian Lake


Μια τεράστια, όσο και μυστηριώδη θέση ανασκάπτει ο αρχαιολόγος Heinrich Härke και η ομάδα του (Πανεπιστήμιο του Reading) στο νησί μιας απομονωμένης λίμνης στη Νότια Σιβηρία, στη ρωσική Δημοκρατία Tuva. Πρόκειται για τη θέση Por-Bajin, όπου η ρωσίδα αρχαιολόγος Irina Arzhantseva, υπό την αιγίδα του Πολιτιστικού Ιδρύματος Por-Bajin, επεσήμανε μια οχυρωμένη εγκατάσταση η οποία περιλαμβάνει τα ερείπια 30 κτιρίων.

Η εντυπωσιακή για τις διαστάσεις της θέση, το τείχος ορθώνεται ακόμη σε ύψος 12,19μ. και περιβάλλει έκταση 28 στρεμμάτων, ανάγεται στους Ουιγούρους, τουρκομανικό λαό της Κεντρικής Ασίας των οποίων οι απόγονοι ζουν σήμερα στη Δυτική Κίνα.

Κατασκευάστηκε στα μέσα του 8ου αι. μ.Χ. και αποτελεί δείγμα της οχυρωματικής αρχιτεκτονικής της περιφέρειας της αυτοκρατορίας των Ουιγούρων (742 – 848). Συνεπώς, παρουσιάζει τεχνικά γνωρίσματα που απαντώνται σε πολιτισμούς με τους οποίους οι Ουιγούροι είχαν επαφές, όπως οι Κινέζοι και οι Πέρσες.


English version 
University of Reading archaeologist Heinrich Härke has spent his career researching the European Dark Ages. But at the invitation of the Por-Bajin Cultural Foundation and archaeologist Irina Arzhantseva, Härke and a team of his students recently spent a season at a site in the mountains of the Russian republic of Tuva.

Russia's most mysterious archaeological site dominates a small island in the center of a remote lake high in the mountains of southern Siberia. Here, just 20 miles from the Mongolian border, the outer walls of the medieval ruins of Por-Bajin still rise 40 feet high, enclosing an area of about 7 acres criss-crossed with the labyrinthine remains of more than 30 buildings.

Por-Bajin ("Clay House" in the Tuvan language) was long thought to be a fortress built by the Uighurs, a nomadic Turkic-speaking people who once ruled an empire that spanned Mongolia and southern Siberia, and whose modern descendants now live mainly in western China.

Archaeologists conducted limited and inconclusive excavations at the site in the 1950s and 1960s, but Irina Arzhantseva of the Russian Academy of Sciences is now digging here for the Por-Bajin Cultural Foundation to find out just when the complex was built and why. The few artifacts unearthed at the site seem to date it to the mid-8th century A.D. During this period, Por-Bajin was on the periphery of the Uighur Empire, which lasted from A.D. 742 to 848 and was held together by forces of warriors on horseback.

Were some of those warriors once garrisoned at Por-Bajin? The Uighurs also might have built the site on an island for reasons other than defense. Perhaps the island was the site of a palace or a memorial for a ruler. Por-Bajin's unique layout, more intricate than that of other Uighur fortresses of the period, has led some scholars to suggest that it might have had a ritual role.

States ruled by nomadic peoples often had symbiotic relationships with neighboring civilizations. In the Uighurs' case, China exerted a strong influence on their culture. The Uighurs even eventually adopted Manichaeism, a religion popular in China at the time that combined elements of Buddhism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism, the Persian religion based on the teachings of the prophet Zoroaster. The site is highly reminiscent of Chinese ritual architecture of the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618–907), so it's possible Por-Bajin might have had something to do with Manichaean rites.


Determining how the site was used might also help archaeologists understand why it was abandoned. There is some evidence of a great fire at Por-Bajin, but could there be other reasons the Uighurs eventually left?

The excavation of the site's central complex could be key to answering the questions of just how the site was used and why it was abandoned. Russian archaeologist Olga Inevatkina of the Museum of Eastern Art, Moscow, leads the work.

The central area consists of two large courtyards surrounded by a series of small yards along the walls. In one of the large courtyards lies a complex consisting of two pavilions. The larger pavilion was likely used for ceremonial purposes, while the smaller one could have been a private residence. Each of the small yards in turn has a building in the center, a layout that was typical of Chinese religious or ritual sites of the period.

As they dug, they werw puzzled that they couldn't seem to find an occupation layer, or a level that would contain artifacts that date to when Por-Bajin was actually used. In fact, there was a surprising dearth of artifacts overall. The only finds so far from two seasons have been a stone vessel, an iron dagger, one silver earring (probably a man's), several iron tools, iron balls from a warrior's flail, lots of β, and a handful of pottery sherds from the site's main gate.

During their time there, they did not manage to add to that tally, nor did they find a proper occupation layer while cleaning three rooms in the complex. But they did uncover destruction debris left behind by a fire, and helped reconstruct the sequence of the building's construction and collapse.

Πηγή / Source: Archaeology

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