Thomas Stöllner/Zeinolla Samaschev/Sergej Berdenov/Jan Cierny †/Jennifer Garner/Alexander Gorelik/Galina A. Kusch:
Miners' Graves in Bronze Age Tin Mines in Askaraly, Eastern Kazakhstan?
The question concerning the significance of burial offerings of tools in prehistoric societies forms the centrepiece of the article and is discussed by way of example against the background of a broad research debate using new finds in eastern Kazakhstan. There, during excavations carried out by the German Mining Museum in Bochum, the Margulan Archaeological Institute as well as the Eastern Kazakhstan Local Heritage Museum, a series of stone sledge-hammers was discovered that were placed in the bronze age graves of the Andronovo culture. The field of graves in Mastau Baj (Askaraly) is situated within a region used in the same period for tin mining. We therefore are dealing definitely with the deceased of the mining community in Askaraly. The burial offering of sledge-hammers, however, is unusual, and refers to the communal aspect: they were found not only in the burial boxes, but especially next to them and in the stone circles around the graves. It is thus a matter rather of a communal ritual. Therefore, the find is incorporated into the current research debate in a superficial way by asking only for the identification of craftsman or miner on the basis of such burial offerings. Rather, it is a matter of the extent to which social belonging and social norms are mirrored far more than individual status in the sense of individual achievement and life-history. This question thus touches upon the discussion about fragments from craftsmen's graves in elite graves of the metal ages in general.