russian/english

Bronze Age

Two vast periods are usually distinguished: Chalcolithic (Copper-Stone Age), that is a transition period from the Stone Age to the Metal Age, and Bronze Age. The epoch of bronze is characterized by significant landmarks in the history of mankind. It is, in the first turn, the further spreading of agriculture and cattle-breeding, and mastering of a new material - metal: copper and its alloys. At the beginning of the metal period contacts among peoples, living on the vast territories had increased. This process was especially manifested on the territory of the Eurasian steppe, where the paleometal period initiated productive cattle-breeding economy. In many respects it was related with new technical developments, such as wheeled vehicles, and in the Late Bronze period - with using a horse for riding.

Bronze Age art

Bronze Age art has some specific features. It becomes more diverse and spreads widely geographically. Petroglyphs (rock paintings), painting on steles and plates, sculpture, small forms, ornament, using of artistic images for decoration of tools and household articles become general. In the art of that period one can trace, for the first time, vivid plots, related with the mythology of ancient peoples, Indo-Europeans among them. Ancient artistic images become a kind of "an imaginative language", sign system, familiar to family groups of population. This peculiarity of ancient art is especially manifested in ornaments and most of all in ceramic ornamentation traditions. It is impossible to describe the whole variety of the Bronze Age art in a short article, so only some, the most interesting examples will be touched upon.

Karakol

Many archaeological discoveries are made by chance. It's just the case with the famous painting of Karakol. While constructing a memorial in the center of Karakol village in the Gorny Altai, the builders found the remains of a chalcolithic barrow. The construction was held up and the monument was studied by archaeologists. Under the mound the remains of burials were discovered. They had been made in cists from stone plates, covered with similar plates. There were red paint traces on the skulls of the buried people. Not a single article to date the monument was found but the findings were really unique.

Red paint traces on the skull.
Karakol. Altai
Numerous drawings, engraved and painted, covered the walls of the cists. Almost all of them were three-color: ancient artists used red, white and black dyes.
What was drawn of the Karakol plates?
Anthropomorphic figures on the Karakol plates are really mysterious. Anthropomorphic and zoomorphic features are mixed up in all of them: bull horns, beast claws, muzzles, remarkably similar to the hare's ones, three-fingered arms - everything is closely interlaced in Karakol images. Such a combination becomes clear, if we assume, that all the figures are in ritual masks. This assumption is proved by the fact that these images are completely lacking the neck and the dimensions of the head are exaggerated - that is the very picture of a man in a ritual mask.
Another interesting peculiarity of the Karakol drawings is the combination of some projections (e.g. a full face, a body and legs in profile) in one figure. This impressive stylistic manner brings the Karakol drawings closer to ancient art of Egypt. In general the characters and plots of the Karakol drawings resemble outwardly ancient East art. Besides, near Ozernaya village in Altai a stele with carved representations of animal successions had been found. Their "ancient Egyptian" stylization surprised even famous Egyptologist, academician B.B.Piotrovsky, but certainly, there could be no any influence. In archaeology such concurrences are called phasic resemblance. It could be both accidental and related to general psycho-physiological laws of representative activity development.
As for interpretation of plots, represented on the plates of Karakol "tombs", it can be quite different. The only thing is obvious: these are mythological scenes, connected with cosmological notions of ancient people. It can be representations of divinities, called to help the dead to pass from the real world to the world of the dead.



Karakol

Karakol

Karakol

 


 

  

Музеи России -
Museums of Russia - WWW.MUSEUM.RU TopList