On the interface of steppe and urban civilization: Interdisciplinary research at Dzhankent (6th – 11th centuries AD)
The early medieval site of Dzhankent has been explored since 2011 in an international fieldwork project involving Kazakh, Russian and German researchers. Work carried out with a geoarchaeological approach has led to a revision of the old view, based on written sources, that this was the 10th century capital of the Oguz polity. The new results indicate that this settlement originated in the 6th century and was partly destroyed and abandoned in the 11th century. While it was an urban site from the late 9th / 10th centuries onwards, there are no traces of monumental buildings or of a lay-out typical of regional or nomad capitals. On the other hand, Near Eastern glass finds, Arab graffiti on pottery, and the earliest domestic cat of the region suggest far-flung connections of the town, perhaps linked to its location on the Northern Silk Road and its role in the north-south trade in livestock and slaves.