ALTAI (Western Siberia) – The stone idols

ALTAI (Western Siberia) – The stone idols

The Altai researchers of the 18th-19th centuries often mentioned kurgan stelae they discovered called balbals or idols. Many of them had mongoloid faces carved into the stone. The discovered burial enclosures and kurgans were called “Chud graves” after the widespread legend of an ancient tribe of Chud. Later, mysterious rock inscriptions were found carved in thin lines with a pointed tool. Other objects were also discovered including iron-melting furnaces. It has taken time to study the mentioned sites in detail and attribute them to one common archaeological culture referred to as the Turkic Culture.

In the mid-first millenium AD, there were several developments in Altai that dramatically changed the course of history of the Eurasian continent. In 460 AD, “500 Ashina families” have been forcibly resettled from East Turkestan to the Altai Mountains. The families possessed a secret of iron production. Legend has it that the tribe was broken by their neighbors. Only one boy survived who had his legs cut off. A female wolf saved and nursed him to health. Impregnant by the boy and retreating in a cave, the wolf gave birth to ten sons. One of these was Ashina, a mighty and gallant warrior. His descendants came to Altai and managed to unite the locals to become the core of a new ethno-cultural group calling themselves “Turkic” people.

The Turkic people were mostly warriors. Skilled blacksmiths, they produced weaponry and armor gaining an advantage over their enemies.

The Turkic people were the first people in Siberia to develop and widely use writing (the 7th century AD). Similar to the Nordic one, the script was called runic. More than 90 runic texts were found in Altai.


Credit: Pavel Filatov ph.

Regione dell'Altai Siberia