Recent excavations at Iron Age kurgans (burial mounds) in eastern Kazakhstan have uncovered spectacular artefacts preserved beneath the permafrost. Once belonging to elite members of the nomadic communities who inhabited the Eurasian steppes in the 1st millennium BC, these objects bear witness to far-reaching networks of communication and cultural exchange extending across Central Asia and beyond.
Now Nomads and Networks: The Ancient Art and Culture of Kazakhstan – recently transferred from New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World – brings these communities back to life, showcasing some of the most significant archaeological discoveries made in the Altai and Tianshan regions over the last 15 years.
With over 150 objects spanning the 8th-1st centuries BC on display, the exhibition explores relationships between nomads, sedentary cultures, and the natural environment, placing the ancient steppe peoples of Kazakhstan within their wider cultural context. The archaeological treasures, ranging from elaborately decorated horse-tack and bronze offering-stands to golden belt-fittings and diadems, cast doubt on traditional views of nomadic peoples as being less sophisticated than their settled contemporaries.
Nomads and Networks: The Ancient Art and Culture
of Kazakhstan runs until 12 November
Address: 1050 Independence Ave SW, Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
Open: Monday – Sunday 10.00-17.30 Admission: free
This article is an extract from the full article published in World Archaeology Issue 55. Click here to subscribe