The editorial staff of the Donskaya Arkheologia journal in collaboration with Rostov State University and the Center for the Study of Eurasian Nomads (USA) is taking part in the work of two archaeological expeditions: at the Lower Don Chastiye Kurgany burial mound group and at the Zolotiye Gorki (Golden Hills) Khazar site of ancient settlement.
Lower Don Chastiye Kurgany
The burial ground named Chastiye Kurgany is located in the Belokalotvensky District of the Rostov Region, at a high divide of the Seversky Donets and Bystraya rivers. It has about thirty visible barrows on its territory. The excavations were started in 2000 by the lower Don group of the Don-land integrated archaeological expedition (chiefs: Dr of History, Prof. V.Ye.Maksimenko, and editor of the Donskaya Arkheologia journal V.V.Klyutchnikov). During the first year, one Scythian barrow (early 4th century A.D.) was dug up. The finds which appeared to be of great interest stimulated further work. Now two groups are working at Chastiye: students from the Rostov University and international volunteers.
All in all, during these years dug up were 16 mounds reflecting quite a number of stages in the ethnic culture of South-Russian steppes. The remains of the Early and Middle Bronze Age sanctuary and barrows, several barrows belonging to the Scythian, Khazarian and Polovtsian (Kipchaks’) times, Polovtsian times sanctuary were investigated here.
The Zolotiye Gorki (Golden Hills) Khazar site of ancient settlement is located in a picturesque right-bank Lower Don area. In the 8th - 10th centuries A.D. there was a fortress whose walls can be traced in fragments even today. Zolotiye Gorki is one of the very few known today fortresses of Khazar Kaganate times. There are about 5 such fortesses in the Lower Don region, none of them exept Sarkel was seriously excavated. But the territory of Sarkel was flooded and there is a reservoir now. So Zolotiye Gorki might become the first Khazar fortress of the region where prolonged scientific research is possible.
Systematic excavations of the site started in the summer of 2002 and continued in 2003 and 2004. Here geomagnetic prospecting was carried out. A total area of more than 500 square meters was excavated. The foundations of the stone buildings, two kilns, several burials were studied.
The work on the site of the ancient settlement will be proceeded in 2005.
The problem of identifying the proper Khazar monuments among the archaeological monuments of Khazar time seems actual. Inspite the lively discussion there is not a single tipe of burials correlates with Khazars for sure. Thus Khazars as the representatives of the state Khazar Kaganat culture are not archaeologically identified yet.
Very keen is a question about the archaeological information on Judaize of Khazaria (this fact is known only by written sources). Today (and it was confirmed on the 2nd International Colloquium of Khazar Studies) we have no archaeological facts about it. We do not know the burials with the signs indicating Judaists. We have no remains of corresponding religious monuments.
That’s why the special attention should be paid to the excavating and publishing of the new Khazar time monuments.