Arkaim is situated
near the city of Chelyabinsk in the Southern Urals, just north of Kazakhstani
border. It was constructed by the ancient people at the junction of
Karaganka and Utyaganka Rivers.
Etymology of Arkaim
Arkaim gets its name from the dominant terrain feature in the area.
The Turkic word "arka" means "ridge" or "foundation". It is a
reference to a high hill that is situated 4 km (2.5 miles) South of
the ancient settlement. However, many followers of pseudoscientific
and national pagan mysticism in modern Russia give false
explanations that have base in reality.
History of Arkaim discovery
The Arkaim archeological site was discovered accidentally in 1987 by
civil engineers and archeological expedition (S.G. Botalov and V.O.
Mosin) during their survey before dam construction. Initially the
discovery of Arkaim was ignored by a public, but thanks to active
position of Hermitage director B.B. Piotrovsky the site was
preserved. New finds quickly gained interest in the society.
Archaeologists and scientists from Chelyabinsk under supervision of
Gennadii Zdanovich were given only 12 months to complete the survey
and rescue archeological digs in the area. The magnitude of Russian
Stonehenge convinced the authorities to stop multi- million
construction of Bolshe- Karaganskoe dam and thus prevented
construction of the reservoir here that would otherwise flood the
plain. The site is generally dated to the 17th century BC, although
some scientists suggested dates as early as the 20th century BC. The
people who built this impressive structure belong to Sintashta-
shows significant planning and order in its construction that may
suggest well- organized hierarchal society. Covering 20,000 sq
meters (220,000 sq ft) the city was surrounded by two circular walls
and a 2 m (6.5 ft) deep moat. The walls have a diameter of 160 m
(520 ft) with a thickness of 4- 5 m (13- 16 ft). They were
constructed from timber frames filled with soil and strengthened by
unburned clay bricks. Approximately 1500- 2500 residents lived in
two rows of large houses that lined the perimeter of the city with
central square reserved for religious festivals and probably served
as a market square. Remains of bonfires around the main plaza
apparently had an important symbolic meaning.
Arkaim contained a temple and a possible observatory that stood in
the center of the settlement. According to archaeologist Konstantin
Bystrushkin that excavated the site ancient people who lived here
could track 18 astronomical events that included sunsets and
sunrises on the days of the equinox and solstice and many others.
These were important milestones in the lives of agricultural society
that depended strongly on the time of the annual cycles. It was very
important to plant seeds at the right time. Short lived warming
could mislead people into believing that the spring is finally here.
Days later their harvest could be completely wiped out by a sudden
freezing winter front.
Arkaim residents were primarily an
agricultural society that grew millet and barley in the fields
surrounding the settlement. Intricate and complex irrigation and
drainage system is still visible in certain places. Scientists also
discovered a complex sewage system that protected the city from
regular floods. Water was simply diverted away from a settlement and
instead covered the agricultural fields.
In addition to
human remains, archaeologists discovered remains of numerous pets,
cattle and even horses, indicating that residents of the city could
travel at far distances. Additionally, several anvils and molds for
metal products indicate that Arkaim inhabitants were skilful in