Tashtyk culture

Tashtyk culture

Tashtyk culture was an archaeological culture that flourished in the Yenisei valley (Minusinsk Depression, environs of modern Krasnoyarsk, eastern part of Kemerovo Oblast) from the first to the fourth century CE, equivalent to the Yenisei Kirghiz. It was preceded by 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. There were also intact fur hats, silk clothes, and footware (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.

Judging by the funerary masks, the Tashtyk tribes were Europoids, probably of mixed Turkic, Iranian, and Tocharian origin. With the help of the plaster masks in graves of the Tashtyk culture, we are able to trace back to the times of Yenisei Kirghiz.


  • 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 Encylopaedia, 3rd ed. 1969-1978.
  • "Tashtyk culture". Great Soviet Encylopaedia, 3rd ed. 1969-1978.

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