Еxhibition "Gold of the North Caucasus" Еxhibition Gold of the North Caucasus

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Middle Ages, …xhibition "Gold of the North Caucasus"

The Middle Ages in the Northern Caucasus started with Huns invasion. The inflow of new population results in dramatic change of ethnic composition of the entire region. The nomadic tribes of Turkic-speaking Bulgarians and Khazars covered the entire steppe space from Caspian to Black Sea. The Central Ciscaucasia remained the area of Alani culture. The catacomb burials and related townsites are the main archaeological monuments of the Alani in the Northern Caucasus. Constant military conflicts with northern neighbors, frequent attacks of the Arabs fostered further development of local fortification art. Multiple settlements with strong stone fortifications show the unstable political situation in this region. The Alani fighting squads often took part in military conflicts between the Sasanian Iran and the Byzantine Empire. The core of the troops were horsemen armed with long swords, elaborate bows with sets of big shank arrow-heads and long spears. The most important attribute of the male outfit was a belt set, which was an indicator of its owner's social status. The warriors having a high social status wore belt sets decorated with dozens ornamented plaques, straps, tips. A specific peculiarity of Alani cultural monuments are the metal amulets, the roots of which go far back into the Bronze and Early Iron epochs. The pendants with birds' heads and anthropomorphic images are typical for early Middle Ages. In the 8th - 9th centuries new types of solar amulets appeared, including the human figurines fit into a ring. The round bronze mirrors, which were personal charms and were made in traditions typical for the Alani craft, remained popular.

Especially interesting is the analysis of the medieval Alani trading. On the basis of importing beads and silk from India, China and Syria one can clearly identify the Caucasian part of the Great Silk Road. Along this route Byzantine and Sasanian coins, Chinese silks and clothes, glass vessels from Egypt and Phoenicia, stone beads from India, glass signet-rings and bracelets from Georgia, jewelry from Byzantine Empire got to the Northern Caucasus. On the whole the period of the 6th - 10th centuries is an epoch of gradual growth and strengthening of the Alani in the Central Ciscaucasia.

A similar process took place in the North-Western Caucasus. The period of early Middle Ages is characterized by gradual penetration of Alani-Bulgarian peoples to the Trans-Kuban and Eastern Black Sea Coastal regions. The analysis of archaeological material showed a considerable ethnic merging at this time. Most evidently it was manifested in the burial ritual. Along with burials in ordinary ground pits, catacomb subMeotian burials and cremations were found. A ritually damaged items - weapons and parts of horse harness - were often found in the cremation urn burials. The burial implements, mainly belt sets, amulet pendants, mirrors and toilet articles, are similar to such items found in the burial complexes of Don region and Central Ciscaucasia, which proves the common ways of development of the material culture of different tribes incorporated in the Khazar Khanate.

The disintegration of Khazar Khanate and consolidation of heteroethnic population resulted in formation of an Early Adighe nationality at the end of the 10th century in the North-Western Caucasus. Under the conditions of permanent onslaught of steppe nomads and Alani the Kasozh union of tribes became established in the Trans-Kuban region. That was the beginning of the period of cultural, political and economic growth of the Early Adighe society. The 14th - 16th centuries were the golden age of the Adighe medieval culture. In the Meotian burials of Adighe nobility excavated in Adighe beautiful specimen of weapons, horse harness, locally made jewelry were found. The necessary attribute of female and male outfit were richly decorated belt sets. Multiple imported pieces of art, including the glass and silver utensils of Asia Minor and Venetian origin, give an idea of the development of trading relations of Adighe society with the rest of the world.

L. Noskova, Dr. of History
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