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Image copyright: A.I. Solovyev

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This is a rather rare representation by A.I. Solovyev, of a warrior of the Indoeuropean Karasuk culture (c. 1500–700 BC) which flourished in South Siberia and Central Asia. Its core region was located in the Minusinsk Basin, on the Yenisey River and on the upper reaches of the Ob River. This culture was probably the cradle of the northern branch of the Proto-Iranians who became the ancestors of the Sakas, Scythians, Sarmatians, Dahae, Parni (Proto-Parthians), Alans and other nomad Iranian peoples.  Karasuk culture came from local varieties of the older Andronovo culture (2nd millennium BC) that was ancestral to the Proto-Indo-Iranian group.

Actually in the Karasuk culture region there was possibly an intermixture of the local Andronovo culture Indoeuropean tribes with an Altaic or Sinid group that came from Ordos (northern China). Exchange with the centres of the Far Eastern metallurgy introduced a new character of material culture (daggers and knives terminating in animal sculptures, series of ornaments) and stimulated the flourishing of metal industry in a wide area. The regions west of Minusinsk (Altai, Kazakhstan, and Kirghizia) show variations of Karasuk culture with strong local elements with which the persistence of the ancient racial type corresponds. Karasuk culture warriors used weapons and ornaments made of bronze and their main fighting force were the war chariots.

BC1700-1300Andronovo

A map of the Proto-Indo-Iranian Andronovo culture and its interactions with neighbouring groups, around 1700-1300 BC. Karasuk culture, a local variety of Andronovo, for some time co-existing with Andronovo proper, was located in the Minusinsk Basin, on the Yenisey River and on the upper reaches of the Ob River (Wikimedia commons).

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The Karasuk period persisted down to c. 700 BC. From c. 700 to c. 200 BC, culture developed along similar lines. A mounted-warrior element occurred, eventually replacing the war chariot, although the agricultural and cattle-breeding elements persisted. In the high Altai, Tien Shan, and Pamirs appeared graves of nomadic warriors with co-burial of horses. Regarding the local facies, or separate political confederations, cultures of this period are called Tagar in the region of Minusinsk, Maiemiric in Altai, Sauromatian (Sarmatian) in western Kazakhstan, Sakian in Tien Shan and Pamirs, and Massagetian in Khwarezm.

The depicted Karasuk warrior is armed with a javelin or short spear, short sword and dagger. A bow, a quiver and two shields are also depicted. His clothes are made mainly of leather and are complemented with bronze ornaments.

A.I. Solovyev deserves kudos for the reconstruction of such a difficult to restore warrior due to the scant archaeological evidence and the general lack of resources.

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Periklis Deligiannis

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