The ancient city of Ilibalyk.

The ancient city of Ilibalyk.

The ancient city of Ilibalyk.

29/12 2020

In 2020, in cooperation with Kazakh and US experts, IICAS continued the study of the Christian medieval necropolis that had been discovered on the grounds of the western artisanal settlement (or rabad) of the site of the ancient city of Ilibalyk.

In 2020, in cooperation with Kazakh and US experts, IICAS continued the study of the Christian medieval necropolis that had been discovered on the grounds of the western artisanal settlement (or rabad) of the site of the ancient city of Ilibalyk.

The main sponsors of the project are: Society for the Exploration of EurAsia (Switzerland), Institute of Archeology named after A. Kh. Margulan (Kazakhstan).

In previous archaeological seasons, data was obtained on the location of the necropolis, the design features of the graves, the typical pattern of the graves location, the funeral rite and burial inventory.

For the season of 2020, the researchers set themselves the following goals:

1.     to determine the extent area of the necropolis in the southern and eastern directions from the excavation site of 2019;

2.     to identify architectural objects on site IV (the western part of the artisanal settlement or rabad) related to the necropolis;

Three new excavation pits were started, i.e. Units Nos. 6, 7, and 12.

Units Nos. 6 and 7 are located east of the necropolis which was identified previously. Eventually, attributes of habitation were found within these excavations, as represented by ash pits, badrans, a lot of pottery debris, as well as one grave and two gravestones (kairaks). One of the gravestones bore an inscription.

The stone inscription is in Syriac and says "This grave belongs to Phebroniah the teacher" (translated by Dr. Mark Dickens).

 South of the excavation of 2019, a Unit 12 excavation was started. The excavation pit is sized 33 by 20 meters, and located lengthwise in the west-east direction.

As a result of the archaeological work on this excavation, a rectangular-footprint building was located with dimensions of 21 by 8.7 meters and wall thickness of about 1 meter. The building’s lengthwise orientation is from west to east.

This building has three rooms stretching from west to east and a courtyard to its north. The western main room had the dimensions of 11.6 by 6 meters. To its east, the main room had a platform-like adjacent auxiliary space attached to it with dimensions of 1.5 by 6 meters. The big eastern room had dimensions of 4.5 by 7.4 meters. In the course of excavation work, some earthenware juglets with a handle (chirags) and a metal lamp were found.

Based on the above, we can infer that on Unit 20 excavation site in 2020, a building of ritual nature was discovered which is geographically related to the necropolis. Considering findings of similar buildings in medieval Christian necropoleis, a conjecture can be made that this served as a church or a chapel. The artifacts found on this site enable us to date this building to the 13th or 14th centuries AD.

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The ancient city of Ilibalyk.
The ancient city of Ilibalyk.