Husband and wife team Claudia Chang and Perry Tourtellotte, archaeologists and members of the Sweet Briar College community, were honored recently for their work in the Republic of Kazakhstan. Chang, a professor of anthropology, and Tourtellotte, an independent archaeologist, were each presented two medals on July 1.
The first medal was awarded by the Republic of Kazakhstan’s ministry of higher education and science at a scientific conference celebrating the 10th anniversary of the nation’s capital, Astana.
The second, a large silver medallion depicting a mounted warrior, was presented by the L.N. Gumiyou Eurasian National University in recognition of their contributions to historical science in the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Others who received the awards were from Russia, Uzbekistan and other independent republics of the former Soviet Union.
Chang and Tourtellotte have studied the Talgar Region of southeastern Kazakhstan since 1994, focusing on the late Iron Age through the medieval periods (600 BC to 1350 AD). Although the era is often called the “Early Nomadic Period,” Chang and Tourtellotte have discovered the nomads were not as nomadic as previously thought.
“Previously, local archaeologists believed that ancient people of the Iron Age were primarily nomads who kept sheep, goats, cattle and horses,” Chang wrote in a statement. “Through the use of Western archaeological methods, such as botanical analysis of soil deposits, specialists working with [us, we] discovered the presence of wheat, barley, millet and rice at settlement sites dating from 800 B.C. to A.D. 100.
“The recovery of animals bone and subsequent analyses demonstrate that the ancient Iron Age inhabitants of southeastern Kazakhstan participated in livestock production of sheep, goats, cattle and horses, as well as the farming of fertile valleys, probably using both rainfall and irrigation agriculture.”