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электронный журнал "Новые исследования Тувы"

Por-Bazhyn, the Uighur Fortress in Tuva

“Just be patient for a month and a half, and we will know the exact date of building of the Por-Bazhyn fortress by dendrochronology ( archeologic dating method by analysis of tree growth rings) – Tuvan scientist, Vladimir Petrukhin, a scientific worker from Institute of Slavic Studies, answered, when asked which was older, Kara-Bulgusun or Por-Bazhyn.

This question was asked on Aug. 3, at the press-conference concerning the international field seminar :Fortress Por-Bazhyn: Geoarcheology and preservation of cultural inheritance”, which was held for 4 days in the archeological camp in the Tere-Khol kozhuun. The seminar was dedicated to natural science methods in geoarcheology.

Many scientists from Austria, Great Britain, Hungary, china, Kazakhstan, Switzerland, Bulgaria, St.Petersburg, and Moscow participated in the seminar. ( July 28 – Aug. 2,2008)

Remember that the fortress Por-Bazhyn was the subject of multidisciplinary research expedition that started last year, initiated by Sergei Shoigu.

“The biggest paradox is that now that we have this tremendous amount of unique data about Por-Bazhyn, we have many more questions, hypotheses and problems than before we started the work, - admits Irina Arzhantseva, – for that reason we have been trying to get many scientists from different schools of thought and different countries to get involved in the search for the answers.”.

“The Uighur Khanate did not exist in isolation. Its cultural ties were spread from China to Central Europe, - says V. Petrukhin. – Was Por-Bazhyn the capital of the Uighur Khanate? Was it the oldest city? It is not possible to tell with total accuracy that something was the most ancient city. Once the development of civilization reached such a point that cities became necessary, a whole network of them showed up. It is very difficult to say exactly which is the oldest.”

“It is also complicated to recognize its functional purpose – was it a monastery, a palace, a summer residence -, says Istvan Fodor, from the National museum in Budapest, Hungary. – The cultural layer, that is, the evidence of daily human activities, is practically absent.”

This is also confirmed by the microbiologist Anna Ivanova. The natural sciences method of assay with the use of microscopic fungal growth, was used to determine with confidence that the human life activity on the island was minimal.

The fortress, built with the help of Chinese expert builders (confirmed by Dr. Chen Jianling, Institute of Archeology of Shanxi, China), was apparently quickly abandoned. Why? One of the possible versions states that the builders, who came from the south, suddenly encountered a phenomenon that was very unfamiliar to them – permafrost.

The island, on which the fortress was built, actually stands on a glacier.

And that is an unstable, undependable substance. One wrong move, and irreversible processes of fast melting begin, and the island can float away like Atlantis.

It is possible that this potential danger was what forced the Uighur Kagan to abandon a brand new town.

This is the version proposed by Dmitriy Subetto, from the department of physical geography RGPU. The unique aspects of the research of Por-BAzhyn consist especially of their complexity, says Irina Arzhantseva, chairman of dept. of Archeology of RAN Institute of ethnology and anthropology, who is the scientific leader of the project. –It is the first time in my memory that archeologists had this chance to form such a team of like-minded workers, but not just archeologists, but also architects, restoration experts, and natural science experts: geophysicists, geomorphologists, hydrologists, soil scientists, and experts in dynamics of permafrost.”

Report was presented about the geophysical sounding of the island and aquatorium

of the lake.

“The research proves that the lake originated by entirely natural means, - says geomorphologist Andrei Panin, vice-dean of geographic faculty of MGU, who participated in the expedition last year. – All the previous hypotheses about its artificial origins turned out to be a myth. Beautiful, but nevertheless a myth. Tere-Khol is 10,000 years old. The center of the island on which the fortress stands is a glacier.

The thawing of the underlying permafrost appears to be the main threat to this monument.

But I have to reassure you that water cannot reach the walls of the fortress sooner that in 100 years.”

It is known that the area of the island shrunk to one third of its area since the middle of 20th century.

“ It is an accomplished fact that Por-Bazhyn became a “brand”, which attracted the attention of scientists from the whole world, - Premier of Tuva, Sholban Kara-ool said at the opening of the seminar. As far as the perspectives are concerned, we have to make an effort to make this mysterious fortress not only an object of research by scientists, but also the center of attention for tourists, one of the points of economic growth of Tuva.”

During the study of the cultural inheritance of the fortress Por-Bazhyn, several unique objects were found: 9 clay reliefs with depictions of protector spirits, a man’s earring, a spearhead, a fragment of a stone chalice. In the opinion of the scientists, all these finds date to the 8th century CE. The scientific community agrees that the study and preservation of this historical and cultural monument is one of the most important projects in contemporary archeology. There has never been another such project in the Soviet Union or in Russia, there is no analogy to it in the whole world.

“We now have many more questions, hypotheses and problems than at the beginning of the project, says Irina Arzhantseva, - That is a well known , frequent algorithm of the process of gathering knowledge: the less you know, the clearer and simpler the ideas of solution of any problem. But when you know much more, the search for the correct answers seems to be infinite.”

Dina Oyun, translated by Heda Jindrak
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