The international archeological and geographical expedition «Kyzyl-Kuragino» had been held by the Russian Geographical Society each summer from the year of 2011. That is one of the most scale projects of the Russian Geographical Society, the aim of which is to save the unique objects of cultural and historical heritage in the area of the railway road «Elegest - Kyzyl – Kuragino» building. Field exploration conducted by the employees of the Institute of History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences, revealed in the region more than a hundred ancient monuments previously unknown.
Tatiana, a researcher of the Institute of History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences:
«I have been going on expeditions from my childhood. I do not have a dream to find treasures – such as gold and diamonds, for instance. The monument itself, the culture itself – are really important for me. I would like to touch those things that people in the II-nd century B.C. touched. When you are finding the artefacts, you realize that they were used by such people as we are, but in another time level. This feeling is impossible to express in words!»
«The route of the future railway goes through the very center of Asia, where were germinating and perishing various cultures and civilizations, which influenced the course of human history: right here the culture of nomads had been formed, which spread over all European steppes up to the Black Sea, where its carriers got the name of Scythians», - the scientific director of the expedition, deputy director of the Institute of History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences Natalia Solovieva tells.
In order to save invaluable for the science artefacts, the scientists needed assistants. On the initiative of the President of the Russian Geographical Society Sergey Shoygu it was decided to bring volunteers for work. The international contest named «Discover the mysteries of the Valley of Kings» was held for selecting the volunteers. The organizers had to make a difficult choice – as more than 1500 girls and boys from all over the world applied for participation in the project annually. There were deployed two camps for the volunteers in summer: «The Valley of Kings» in the Republic of Tuva and «Ermak» in the Krasnoyarsk region.
The opening ceremony of the archeological seasons were held with the personal participation of Sergey Shoygu. «I will not tell you what expects you in the expedition, - the President of the Russian Geographical Society told the participants of the expedition before the beginning of one of the stages of excavations. – But I can emphasize that there are the hundreds of finds, including unique things, there are the hundreds of acquaintances, that is great friendship between the young people from different countries, from different universities, cities of Russia, that is a great memory, which is being input by them and which they pass to the following who are willing to get to the expedition».
The word had been coordinated by the scientific employees of the Institute of History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences. According to the schedule the volunteers had to work till the dinner, however, a lot of them were coming back to the excavations in order to help the archeologists till the late evening.
Valery (Germany), a volunteer:
«My friends couldn`t believe in the beginning: «What for is Siberia to you?! That is too far and it is too cold there». But it was found out that it is very hot here in summer. And also a very friendly people are living here, and the nature is marvelous».
Anika (Germany), a volunteer:
«There is absolutely different view of the Scythians in Europe. I got to know here where they came from, the way they lived. That is invaluable knowledge and experience».
Besides, the scientists read the lectures of the Scythian history and were telling about the unique discoveries which had already been made in Tuva. There were different master-classes and excursions included to the program of the field changes. Everyone who was tired of the saturated educating program, were actively connected to the entertainment program: sporting events, film screenings, competitions and charades, amateur concerts, fishing ...
Besides the professional skills and outlook extension the boys and girls were gaining new friends, choosing their profession and even were creating families here.
Sergey (Russia), a volunteer:
«I am grateful to all thanks to who this unique project took place, and we became its part! I would like more international projects as this, because when taking part in them, we do not only enrich our knowledge in some specific field, but are getting acquainted with the mentality and culture of other nations, the representatives of which are working hard side by side and are living with us as well. We all are studying the culture of our oldest, and possibly, unified ancestries».
Viktoria (Russia), a volunteer:
«I would like to thank the Russian Geographical Society for such a breathtaking opportunity, which you have provided to me and to the hundreds of other volunteers! I warmly thank you for found friends, amazing august which I spent with my back to the side of the sun. There is one thing that I exactly realized – that it was enough the month in Siberia unfortunately. I will be working hard at my diploma to have an opportunity to get there for the whole summer, where I used to feel myself being «real», where I was engaged in a really important activeness».
«Invaluable material on the ancient cultures of the region from the Paleolithic to the Middle Ages has been collected during the expeditionary works. These excavations, certainly, will enrich the domestic science in the sphere of the history of Central Asia and will help to preserve the unique cultural and historical heritage of our civilization», - Natalia Solovieva is convinced.
Mikhail (Russia), a volunteer:
«I have always been attracted by nature. I worked in tourism, went hiking, clambered all the Chelyabinsk region (Sinegorye Ridge, Mount Taganay). Besides the craving for nature I wanted to get acquainted and communicate with new people. I am very much satisfied with the trip to Ergaki park! In spite of the vagaries of weather, it impressed me much».
Sergey (Russia), a volunteer:
«I came to the excavations twice. I couldn`t help feeling the magic atmosphere of these places. And for the second time I came back not alone already – four of my friends were lit up by this idea. The expedition for me – is a method to spend my holiday actively. Here you are having a rest, and working, and getting knowledge – that is difficult to combine all that in some other place I think».
The most precious findings will take their place in the National Museum of Tuva after being studied by the specialists. And while you may get acquainted with them on the website of the Russian Geographical Society, on the private webpages of the volunteers and at the exhibitions. Thus, in summer of 2015 there worked the photo exposition «Archaeological and geographical expedition «Kyzyl-Kuragino»: mysteries and treasures of the Scythians» in Moscow underground at the «Vistavochnaya» station.
Pavel (Latvia), a volunteer:
«A couple of years ago on the «Moya planeta» TV-channel I saw a reportage about the first season of the «Kyzyl-Kuragino expedition». I immediately had the desire to get acquainted with the nature of Krasnoyarsky region. I was impressed by the weather variability, and, of course, the beauty of local places. I was pleasantly surprised by the fitted camp, delicious and qualitative meals. The aim of this trip for me was the willing to change, to turn round, at least, one of the sides of my life for 180 degrees, to come up to such kind of things, which were not previously dealt with.
Sasha (Romania), a volunteer:
«As I am an archeologist, sooner or later there had to appear Scythians in my life. And as soon as that happened (I began studying the Scythian group, inhabiting the territory of modern western Romania, in the Iron Age), there appeared the necessity in mastering of Russian language. That is why participation in this expedition – is an ideal chance for me. I visited the volunteer camp «Ermak» twice. First time I set myself an objective – to come back here whatever happens. And my dream came true!».
The «Kyzyl-Kuragino» expedition is over. All the artefacts which had been found during the project were sent to the St. Petersburg Institute of History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The scientists will be studying this heritage during a long time. On the opinion of the archeologists, some of the discoveries, which were made during the expedition, may cardinally change the representation of the life of our ancestors.
More than 500 leading Russian and foreign scientists and archeologists and more than 2500 volunteers from 50 countries had taken part in the expedition for these 5 years. There are young people amongst them who had been taking part in the expedition for the four years in a row.
The expedition became the laureate of the Award of the Russian Geographical Society in «Natural and cultural heritage» nomination in 2014.
However, on opinion of the President of the Society Sergey Shoygu, the main things in this project nevertheless are not the impressing finds of scientists, but that fact that «there are more interested people in our country than indifferent».
We sincerely thank all the members of the expedition. Thank you for being with us!
This expedition is over, but there are a lot of interesting projects onwards.
Nina (Russia), a volunteer:
«Tuva caught me, caught on the hook. It would be desirable to return here again and again. There are a lot of interesting people on excavations – from Germany, Estonia, Czech Republic. And they do not seem to be strangers there. We all communicate each other, and the language is not even always needed».
Kaisa (Estonia), a volunteer:
«I have been dreaming to visit Siberia for a long time, to become the participant of the real expedition. This project of the Russian Geographical Society is a great combination of the both aspects of my dream. Here I enjoyed absolutely everything: nature, expedition specifics, meals, kind and open people, the opportunity to improve my Russian».
The photos are provided by the participants of the «Kyzyl-Kuragino» expedition