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Title: Early niche graves in the Turfan Basin and Inner Eurasia
Author: Timperman, Ilse
ISNI:       0000 0004 6500 5523
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2016
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This PhD research analysed mortuary variability at Yanghai and the Turfan Basin to understand the emergence of lateral niche graves around 200 BCE and its significance in an Inner-Eurasian context. This research relates to a larger niche grave debate which has existed for decades. Attributes of 519 graves at site level and 150 graves at regional level were fed into a specially designed database. More than 5300 entries were collected at the lowest possible level, so that they could be aggregated at any time to the desired research constructs. This made it possible to look at the data from multiple perspectives, views or paradigms. A fivefold set of parameters was assessed related to grave architecture, human remains, animal remains, grave goods and chronology. The results suggest the Yanghai niche grave occupants represented an emerging pastoralist elite skilled in mounted shooting, who controlled the Turfan Basin and part of the Tianshan area from c. 200 BCE onward. They depended on the Jiaohe Goubei elite who occupied a strategic position and borrowed their power from a clever navigation between western and eastern powers. Jiaohe Goubei showed close connections with the Balikun grasslands. The niche grave practices of both areas probably originated in the Hexi Corridor but also showed different affiliations. Another niche grave centre in the Yili Basin was not responsible for the emergence of this grave type in the Turfan Basin, but triggered instead a series of events west of the Tianshan. Analysis of Yanghai demonstrated that the introduction of niche graves did not result in a sudden replacement of the local population. Adoption by locals was more important than migration and there was a close symbiosis between shaft and niche grave occupants. The regional analyses indicated a differential integration of niche grave practices by different communities in the Turfan Basin.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral