Field seasons

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First field season

The expedition kicked off in 2011. Expeditionary camp was encamped on the shore of Eerbek water storage basin. Among the volunteers of the Russian Geographical Society are students of the St. Petersburg state university and Tuvan state university.

The first season ran from 25 May to 15 September, 2011. A total of 180 people, 86 of them were volunteers from Tuva, St. Petersburg, Moscow and Novosibirsk, worked in the camp. Operating personnel of about 40 people was also working in the camp.

Second field season

The Russian Geographical Society announced the international youth volunteer contest “Unveil mysteries of Valley of kings” in 2011 to involve volunteers in the expedition.

Students, post graduates young teachers and scientists from different countries sharing common interests for history, archaeology, geography and culture were invited to participate in the contests.

Those who had made it past the filter became the participants of the second field season of the Kyzyl-Kuragino expedition.

During second field season camp “Valley of kings” hosted 267 volunteers and camp “Yermak” hosted 210 volunteers.

Also this time the volunteer contest was held both for citizens of Russia and foreigners. A total of about 500 volunteers including 90 foreigners from 28 countries of the world (Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, the UK, Germany, Kirgizia, Columbia, Latvia, Mexico, Moldavia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, the USA, Ukraine, France, Estonia etc.) took part in the second field season.

Scale of the expedition was expanded in 2012. Works were carried out not only in Tuva (camp “Valley of kings”) but in Krasnoyarsk Krai (camp “Yermak”) as well. Institute for the history of material culture of the Russian academy of sciences (St. Petersburg) was the main executive of the scientific part of the works. Professional archaeologists have not only run the excavations but have taught volunteers as well. During three months of excavations of the Early Scythian Epoch burials in Tuva and Krasnoyarsk Krai the Russian Geographical Society volunteers attended about 12-15 lectures on archaeology.

Excavations have been performed at 12 burials simultaneously. More than 600 pieces were found during the works: bronze weapons (acenaces, calkers, knifes, arrowheads), bronze mirrors, decorated belts (Scythian “animal-style” bronze batches), buckles, closures, golden torcs, earrings, beads (carnelian, nephritis, kallait, glass etc.), horse harness elements, stone iron, whet stone and sink-stone fragments and many other objects, and 5 deer stones – unique monuments of the Early Scythian Epoch. Also, more than 200 fragments of ceramic ware, tailing and leather, animals’ bones, iron pieces, silicium and bone arrowheads, belt-hooks etc. were found. Golden (earring and pectoral - female lunate adornment worn on breast), bronze and stone findings were made.

Third field season

The Russian Geographical Society announced contest “Unveil mysteries of Valley of kings” to organize the third field season of the expedition. About 1500 applications from all over Russia and abroad were received in the space of 4 months. 600 volunteers were selected to participate in the expedition.

The third field season of the expedition took place at the territory of the Piy-Khem Kozhuun in the Republic of Tuva. The camp was located 100 km away from Kyzyl, at the center of Valley of Kings – ancient Scythians’ burial.

Tuvan expedition of the Institute for the history of material culture of the Russian academy of sciences jointly with the RGS volunteers made a rare discovery at the burial “White lake 3” located in Valley of Kings not far from the stow White lake (the Piy-Khem Kozhuun in the Republic) – medieval brigandine plate-armor. The fact that the armor was found in one piece makes it a unique finding. Armature of this type presented mostly fragmentarily (separated plates or pieces of armor).

Camp “Yermak” of the third field season was organized in Yermak district of Krasnoyarsk Krai with the participation of supporting and developing Fund of the Krasnoyarsk regional branch of the Russian Geographical Society.

Sayan expedition of the Institute for the history of material culture of the Russian academy of sciences found more than 8000 artefacts including lots of ceramics, different animals’ bones, tools and arrowheads.

Forth field season

1,500 applications from 74 subjects of the Russian Federation and 38 foreign countries were submitted to the International Youth Volunteer Contest "Unravel the Mystery of the Valley of Kings!" About 600 volunteers were selected during the contest to take part in the expedition.

The fourth field season of the project took place from June 3 to August 29, 2014. By tradition, two field camps were organized for volunteers. Camp "The Valley of Kings" was set up in natural landmark Sausken in Kyzyl district of the Republic of Tuva, near the village of Eerbek. Camp "Ermak" was, as during the past field season, set up in Ermakovsky district of Krasnoyarsk Krai.

After the three-month excavations in Tuva and Krasnoyarsk Krai many archaeological sites have been studied.

Tuva. In the barrows of the Scythian period ceramic and wooden vessels were found along with bronze and ivory jewelry belts, including the ones decorated in animal style, a bronze kelt (kind of an ax), knives, bone, wood and bronze arrowheads, stone beads, gold earrings and sewn patches. Iron stirrups, a saddle, daggers, arrowheads and a birch bark quiver, belts made of iron (some were inlaid with silver) were found in the barrows of the Middle Ages.

A unique discovery of the season is the Katylyg-5 settlement. The monument contains a cultural layer of the Hun-Sarmatian period: I century BC - I century AD. More than 1,000 square meters have been excavated.

Krasnoyarsk Krai. Sayan-Pogranichnoe - 4 (Barrow 4). A young woman with a baby was buried in the tomb. Archeologists discovered bronze earrings, a full bridle set: iron bits, bronze figure psals, silver and gold-plated bronze forehead plaques with floral ornaments and images of predatory animals, curly belt pads, and a piece of a silver Chinese mirror.

Kuyart-1. Undisturbed burial was found under the lay out of a barrow. The burial  was made according to the rite of cremation. A lot of (more than 100 items) accompanying implements including unique pieces of the Middle Ages (X-XII centuries AD) were found near the remains of the burning: a full arming set of an early medieval equestrian warrior: a saber, a kelt, a quiver full of arrows of different types, a knife, curly iron plaques of a military belt; as well as items of horse equipment - stirrups, bits, bridle sets, headband plaques, the iron base of a plume. Shields of many buckles are decorated with relief patterns.