Talgar Alluvial Fan Dataset
Claudia Chang and Perry A. Tourtellotte

Archaeology Database
University of Pittsburgh
Email: cadb@pitt.edu

Survey Methodology and Preliminary Conclusions

In 1994 we began our field work in the Talgar area conducting excavations at Medieval Talgar and at the Saka Period site of Tuzusai. For three seasons we focused our research on Tuzusai excavations (see map of locations of excavated sites), during which we were forced to ask ourselves: "Where are the other settlement sites?"

Field survey, especially pedestrian surveys, is a distinctively Western methodology for finding ancient archaeological sites. We implemented our survey strategy of field walking on the Talgar alluvial fan (see map). This electronic document includes the preliminary results of our survey work from 1997 through 1999. At this time we still lack some important pieces of information. This information includes: (1) a ceramic inventory and typology of the Bronze Age through Medieval period ceramics collected from the survey; (2) an inventory of all artifact finds; and (3) estimations of the numbers of previously unrecorded kurgans found in the Talgar Region.

Soviet period archaeology—noted for its large excavation projects—tended to overlook the importance of doing archaeological surveys of bounded areas such as the Talgar alluvial fan (an area that extends from the foothills of the Zailiisky Alatau to the steppe approximately 14 km. north and covers an area of 180 km²). Nevertheless the strong geographical emphasis of Pre-Revolutionary Russian imperial scholars, as well as the Soviet period archaeologists, resulted in the compilation of archaeological monuments, important sites, cemeteries and necropoles (grave complexes), and tended to locate sites through the use of large-scale maps (1:500,000 scale) (Arkheologicheskaja Karta Kazakhstana 1960).

In Western archaeology, survey or systematic investigation of landscape surfaces in search of archaeological sites (graves, cemeteries, burial mounds, camps, settlements, shrines, paths, roads, artifact scatters, rock shelters) is the prerequisite for subsequent excavations or regional studies of archaeology. The two reasons why archaeological survey has become so essential in the practice of Western archaeology are: (1) the necessity to inventory and document all archaeological places on maps for the protection and preservation of such sites; and (2) the development of entire research programs based on the geographical distribution of archaeological places over local and regional landscapes.

The following sections describe the procedures used to carry out the Talgar Alluvial Fan survey, as well as some general conclusions on the Talgar settlement data.

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