Talk abstract details

Astronomical practice of Central Asian nomads and possible Pleiades, Orion Belt and Sirius alignments of the “moustached” kurgans
Nyssanbay M. Bekbassar


This work is part of general study of stone constructions of Central Asia, with a focus on their orientations.
Kurgans with mustache (kurgans with two bow-shaped stone ridges) were more than once on the focus of the archaeoastronomy. It was shown that each of them consist a series of solar and lunar alignments. Especially interesting is that among them were often found directions (except cardinal) pointed to the horizon with declinations about -16, 19 and 4 degrees. The first value closes to the declination of the Sun on the date of winter mid-quarter days; the second one close to the Moon’s declination in the period of minor standstill, the last one is about equinoctial Sun’s declination.
Is it possible that those alignments had been directed to the horizon positions of any stars or constellations, being calendar markers of Central Asian nomads?
Ethno historical records for the Central Asia provide that in 19-20 centuries people maximized observations of star phases (heliacal rise/set, achronal set and others) of some stars and constellations, mainly the Pleiades, Orion Belt and Sirius. The dates of those heavenly phenomena were used for the marking of seasons, making meteorological prognosis for planning of the start of seasonal economical works related to cattle-breading, hunting and agriculture.
It is interesting, that declinations of these asterisms were close to the listed ones above at the time when the kurgans “with mustache” came in begin (presumably 4-9 centuries AD). The analyze of their star phases at that time show us that they had marked the main times of nomadic economical year: heliacal setting of them at the same time which had happened in the middle of April coincided with both the revival of vegetation and the outset of warmer half of a year, with heliacal rising of the Pleiades (end of June-beginning of July) started the summer heat, whereas heliacal rising of Sirius indicated end of them. The simultaneous achronal setting of the three signified a beginning of the colder season (middle of November).
In the present communication will be discussed results of an analyze of possibility of astronomical alignments on mustached kurgans to the visual rising and setting positions of the main asterisms of Central Asian nomads, playing a great role in their astronomical practice.