In 2001 an integrated research expedition of Rostov State University, the Donskaya Arkheologia journal and the Center for the Study of Eurasian Nomads (USA) proceeded the investigation of the Chastyie Kurgany burial ground. The expedition comprised two groups: a group of Rostov University students (headed by Prof. V.Ye.Maksimenko) and a group of international volunteers (headed by V.V.Klyutchnikov). The international group included professionals and amateurs from Russia, the USA, Great Britain, France and Sweden. Dr. Jeannine Davis-Kimball (USA) took part in this work. Rostov State Film Studio shot a documentary on the expedition. The work was also filmed by the Omni Productions film crew (USA). The expedition dug out six barrows: one belonging to the 4th century B.C., three referred to the Khazar epoch, and two to the Polovtsian (Kipchaks) time.
1. Barrow No. 4 (dug up by the group of students). Dated to the 4th century B.C. Height: about 25 cm. The barrow was largely ruined by ploughing and repeatedly robbed. The buried male lay in supine position with his head southward (although the head itself was missing). The age of the buried man made about 40-45. There was an iron arrow-head in the pelvic area, while another arrow-head of the same type was found in the thigh-bone zone. Probably these arrows gave occasion to the man's death. Besides, several dozens of arrow-heads of a different type and remains of a sword were found. There were also bones of a horse and a ram. The most interesting find was the gold facings of a missing wooden cup.
2. Barrow No. 2 (dug up by the international group). Can be referred to the Khazar culture and dated to the first half of the 8th century A.D. It was surrounded by a little ritual ditch of a semi-square shape. The barrow was robbed in antiquity, the human bones and the bones of animals were all mixed up by the robbers. The buried person was a male of about 35-40. The skull had a gold foil plate in its mouth. The burial place also contained a silver belt cover plate, bone bow facings, two arrow-heads, an iron stirrup and some fragments of iron articles of a vague origin.
3. Barrow No. 3 (dug up by the international group). Can also be referred to the Khazar culture and dated to the first half of the 8th century A.D. It was surrounded by a little ritual ditch. The barrow was robbed in antiquity, the human bones and the bones of animals were mixed up by the robbers. The buried person was a male of about 25-35. There were also three bronze belt cover plates and fragments of iron articles.
4. Barrow No. 9 (dug up by the group of students).
Can also be referred to the Khazar culture and dated to the first half of the
8th century A.D. There was no ritual ditch. The barrow was robbed in antiquity.
There also was a gold earring, pottery fragments and two arrowheads.
These Khazar time mounds are the most northern ones among those known in the region.
5. Barrow No. 8 (dug up by the group of students). Can be referred to the Polovtsian (Kipchaks) culture and dated to the early 13th century. It had a stone shell. The burial chamber separated from the entrance well by a wooden partition, had a wooden coffin with a mature male's remains. There was a well-preserved bow and a birch bark quiver with arrows in the coffin. The coffin cover had remains of a saddle and stirrups on it. The footsteps of the entrance well had a horse skeleton with well-preserved bit remains.
6. Barrow No. 11 (dug up by the international group). Can
also be referred to the Polovtsian (Kipchaks) culture and dated to the early 13th century.
It had a stone shell. The barrow had two burial places. Burial place No.1
belonged to a male and had the same construction and implements (yet worse
preserved) as the burial place of barrow No.8.
Burial place No.2 belonged to a female. It was arranged in a pit with shoulders which had two wooden overhead cover billets lying on them. A female skeleton lay stretched in supine position in a coffin on the grave floor. Apart from iron knife debris and a birch bark fragment in a roll, no other articles could be found there.
In the event the preliminary dating of the barrows (late 12th - early 13th centuries) is confirmed, this will be the first case of registering such stone constructions in the lower Seversky Donets basin of the pre-Mongol period in the Polovtsian (Kipchaks) history
On the work of this international group in 2002 see>>
CHASTIYE KURGANY – 2000
CHASTIYE KURGANY – 2001
CHASTIYE KURGANY – 2002
CHASTIYE KURGANY – 2003
CHASTIYE KURGANY – 2004