Botai Horse Culture 3600 BC
Here is the Wikipedia article on the Botai Culture, which is far too shallow and forced me to look feverishly for much greater insight into this culture, which I’m researching for my upcoming novel. It’s not like this information is new, but a matter of public availability of the research.
I found a mother load of internet accessible Botai information curated by Dr. Sandra L. Olsen, (1 minute delay) who wrote “Horses through Time” which I ordered last night from Amazon in paperback (only available used) which cost me $7.78 including shipping. The title is also available on Kindle for $8.79, the format I prefer for novels, but not textbooks that might have pictures or charts (because I use an old paperwhite). This book is an anthology of writings by various authors, wherein Dr. Olsen wrote chapter 3 “Horse Hunters of the Ice Age,” and being an excavator at Botai sites and curator of the Carnegie Museum’s nascent (I hope) web site on the Botai excavations, I’d say she’s a safe bet as a world class expert. However, before charging off to study it—and blaming me that you fell asleep waiting—see my discussion below of that web site’s response time. Dr. Olsen appears to be a polymath, considering she’s a zooarchaeologist, has a more current archaeological project regarding Arabian Rock Art, and teaches neurobiology at Pitt.
Former Curator & Head of Section Sandra L. Olsen has left an orphan website on the Botai culture on the Carnegie Museum website, which deserves more funding to bring response times down, and to complete the uncompleted subtopics—given the Botai are the leading candidates to have first domesticated the horse. The titles of the work-in-process sections of the website are listed below, with my brief summary on each. Should you go to these sites, you will find wait times of nearly a minute (just tested at 60 seconds on my connection at 180 megabits per second). Therefore, if you are both patient and inquisitive, I recommend that you open the links simultaneously on your machine, then read them in order. I give only snippets below, to encourage you to go to the site for more.
Carnegie Mellon University Student illustration of Botai village 3600BC. Credit
1.1 HORSES AND HUMANS, (1 minute delay) including 1.2 THE BOTAI PEOPLE and 1.3 RECENT EXCAVATIONS. 7 maps and photos, including Kazakh mare milking at village of Kenetkul; statement that staff estimate horse domestication started ca. 3500 BC; use of copper radically changed their culture from nomadic hunters into sedentary villagers. Dates are AMS radiocarbon dated. Total excavations 70 houses at Botai, and one house each at Krasnyi Yar and Vasilkovka IV.
2.1 PALEOENVIRONMENT OF NORTHERN KAZAKHSTAN 5500 YEARS AGO, (1 minute delay) 6 photos and maps. “Environment at the time of occupation consisted of open steppe with scattered pine and birch woodland. The herb flora is typical of the steppe…” PLUS 2.2 SEDENTARY HORSE PASTORALISM. “the ancient people were sedentary pastoralists who raised herds of domesticated horses. They also had domesticated dogs, but no cattle, sheep, goats, or pigs.”
3.1 MAPPING WHOLE VILLAGES WITH REMOTE SENSING, (1 minute delay) including 3.2 RECONSTRUCTING BOTAI HOUSE STRUCTURES. 10 photos, sketches and maps related to Botai, Vasilkokva and Krasnyi Yar.
4.1 CERAMIC TRADITION, (1 minute delay) including 4.2 STONE TECHNOLOGY, 4.3 BONE ARTIFACTS, and 4.4 SHELL BEADS. A lot of material here, including 14 photos and figures. Unglazed, lightly fired pottery of bag shape assembled using the coil method.
5.1 DEATH AND THE BOTAI (1 minute delay) Discusses pit burial remains accompanied by 14 sacrificed horses; practice of plastering a skull much like those found at the Jericho site in Israel and the Ain Ghazal site in Jordan which date back thousands of years earlier than Botai. Map and 4 figures, including an illustration of the man’s face from whom one skull came.
6.1 KAZAKH ARCHAEOLOGY STUDENT TRAINING PROGRAM, (1 minute delay) including 6.2 INSTITUTIONAL COLLABORATION AND FUNDING and 6.3 RECOMMENDED READINGS. The future of archaeology at the sites. 2 photos.
Moreover, I found a work-in-progress page Welcome to Botai Discovery which has three sections: Where is Botai?; Rituals and Behavior; and How did the Botai people make cordage for clothing?
Thanks for visiting,
R. E. J. Burke