Tashtyk culture

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A funerary mask from Tashtyk in Moscow State Historical Museum. See a color photograph on the Hermitage website.
More masks in Moscow

The Tashtyk culture was an archaeological culture that flourished in the Yenisei valley in Siberia from the first to the fourth century CE, perhaps equivalent to the Yenisei Kirghiz.[1] Located in the Minusinsk Depression, environs of modern Krasnoyarsk, eastern part of Kemerovo Oblast, it was preceded by the Tagar culture.

Tashtyk settlements and hill-forts have been unearthed throughout the Yenisei region, particularly the Sayan canyon area. Their most imposing monuments were immense barrows-crypt structures; these have yielded large quantities of clay and metal vessels and ornaments. In addition, numerous petrographic carvings have been found.

During his excavations of the Oglahty cemetery south of Minusinsk, Leonid Kyzlasov discovered a number of mummies with richly decorated plaster funerary masks showing Western Eurasian features, though this would not rule out some East Asian admixture, as revealed by ancient DNA (see below). There were also intact fur hats, silk clothes, and footwear (now in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg).

Some of the graves contained leather models of human bodies with their heads wrapped in tissue and brightly painted. Inside the models there were small leather bags probably symbolising the stomach and containing burned human bones. Scaled-down replicas of swords, arrows and quivers were placed nearby.


It is not known which language the Tashtyk people spoke, but evidence from comparative linguistics suggests that an early Turkic idiom may have been involved.[2]

Ancient DNA[edit]

Extracted mitochondrial DNA from five female Tashtyk remains of 100–400 AD from Bogratsky region, Abakano-Pérévoz I, Khakassia, revealed that four possessed the Western Eurasian HV, H, N9a, and T1 haplogroups, while the other carried the East Asian haplogroup C. The Western Eurasian Y-DNA haplogroup R1a1a was extracted from one male. The same haplogroup was found among the remains of the preceding Tagar culture. The study determined that the majority of the individuals had light hair and blue or green eyes.[3]


  1. ^ "Xipoliya Yanke Suo Jian Xiajiesi Monijiao" ("Siberan Rock Arts and Xiajiesi's Manicheism") 1998 Gansu Mingzu Yanjiu
  2. ^ Janhunen, Juha. "Khakas." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. 1996. Encyclopedia.com. (June 9, 2014).
  3. ^ C. Keyser et al. 2009. Ancient DNA provides new insights into the history of south Siberian Kurgan people, Human Genetics, vol. 126, no. 3 (September 2009), pp. 395-410.
  • Christian, David. A History of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia. Blackwell Publishers, 1999.
  • Leonid Kyzlasov. Tashtyk Era (Таштыкская эпоха). Moscow, 1953. Page 13.
  • "Oglakhty". Great Soviet Encyclopaedia, 3rd ed. 1969-1978.
  • "Tashtyk culture". Great Soviet Encyclopaedia, 3rd ed. 1969-1978.

External links[edit]