Perry A. Tourtellotte

Tuzusai 20 years later; The life of an Iron Age archaeological site in Kazakhstan

Today is the day of Archaeology and also for Perry A. Tourtellotte and Claudia Chang (two American archaeologists) a memorable day. We have worked at the Iron Age site of Tuzusai from 1994-1996 and then from 2008 to 2014. Today we are excavating in the 2013-14 excavation block with 3 local workers, two high school students Ksenya and Tolik and Vitaly. We have been digging out the fill of a Pit house 9. The kids excavated a third of a large jug in the fill of this feature.

The upper features of this site consist of amorphous mud brick architecture, the lower features probably associated with the Saka period (ca. 400 BC to 200 BC) document early settlements of the eastern variants of the Scythians.  The later above ground architecture represents the Wusun period (ca. 100 BC to AD).  What is so important about Tuzusai, located about 25 km from the largest city in the Republic of Kazakhstan, Almaty—is the discovery of both cultivation of wheats, barley, and millets and the herding of sheep, goats, cattle and horses.  The architectural components is really important also since it does not conform to Herodotus’ notions of nomads living on wagons.