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Jul 6, 2017 - Science and innovations
FEFU archaeologists found medieval Jurchen burial ground in south of Primorye

Archaeologists of Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) have discovered a unique burial ground of the Jurchen in Shkotovo District in the south of Primorsky Krai. Experts say that the large burial ground of the Jin Empire era has been discovered in the area for the first time. The find dates back to the 12th-13th centuries and has already brought many interesting artifacts: fragments of ceramics, ornaments, arrowheads, coins, and other household items.

According to Eugene Nikitin, the head of the Museum of Archeology and Ethnography, FEFU Education and Research Museum, twenty-seven ancient graves were found at the excavation site.

“Most of them are round stone objects with the fragments of burned wood, inside of which there are two or three separate burials. They are accompanied by pottery, ornaments, and weapons. The remains of a horse were found in one of the burials, which, apparently, belonged to the deceased,” said Eugene Nikitin. “There are probably no bone remains there, since the Jurchen buried the ashes of the deceased.”

The interesting artifacts include fragments of several clay pots with an unusual ornament, decorative roof tiles, hunting and armor-piercing arrowheads, Chinese coins stamped between 1102 and 1106. After processing, all of them will replenish the fundamental collection of the FEFU Museum.

“We found ceramics of high, imperial quality from the golden age of the Great Jin Empire. A curious fragment of glazed pottery was discovered which was an indisputably very precious commodity in those days. Such items were not produced in the Primorye region but were delivered from South China,” said Eugene Nikitin.

“Ancient burials are accompanied by certain ritual objects and constructions, so we assume that it is a burial of people of high standing, not just laymen,” said Alexander Popov, Director of the Education and Research Museum, School of Humanities, Far Eastern Federal University. “It is known that not far from this place there was a large site of ancient settlement, but, unfortunately, it has already been destroyed. If you conduct a large-scale reconnaissance, you could find other settlements there and make a very interesting map of the archaeological area.”

The expedition involves 60 people: faculty members and researchers of FEFU, students of different areas and years of study, as well as high school students and volunteers. Excavations are carried out in an area of more than 5000 square meters. Experts point out that the medieval cultural layer lies close to surface and has been badly damaged by farming operations. So far only the tip of the 'archeological iceberg' has been uncovered but scientists plan to dig on to the very 'mainland' — to the layer without any traces of human presence.

Excavations in the south of Primorsky Krai are commissioned by Gazprom Corporation, which lays the gas pipeline to the Zvezda Shipyard in Bolshoy Kamen. Nikolay Lovygin, head of the Primorsky Production and Operation Department of Gazprom Gas Distribution Network of the Far East, said that 17 archaeological sites turned out to be on the way of the pipeline. They managed to circumvent 15 of them, and the FEFU scholars were trusted to the preservation of the two sites.

Work at the medieval site will continue for one more month. Then the group will move to the Solontsovaya 2 site, which refers to the Yankovo culture of the Paleometal Age (VIII–I century BC) and the Krounovka culture of the early Iron Age (V century BC–I century AD) . According to Alexander Popov, its study can bring even more finds that are interesting for researchers, telling about the ancient life and development of man in the area.