28/09/2021 - 30/01/2022

A unique opportunity: The Fitzwilliam Museum place archaeological finds discovered in the last three years by Kazakh archaeologists on a global stage for the first time. 28th September-30th January 2022.

Open to the public for free, the exhibition showcases artefacts from the remarkable burial mounds of the Saka people of East Kazakhstan. The Saka culture of Central Asia flourished 2,500 years ago and today, is largely unknown outside Kazakhstan.

Through the use of modern archaeological methods, scholars and scientists have been able to find and analyse not only burial mounds but also the remnants of settlements. We have been able to gain a better understanding, through latest excavations and analyses led by archaeologists from Kazakhstan, of how the Saka lived and travelled and their beliefs. They have been able to reveal a distinctive, advanced society, which continues to be uncovered.

The Saka occupied a landscape of seemingly endless steppe to the west, bounded by mountains to the east and south. As well as fierce warriors, they were also skilled craftspeople, producing intricate gold work. Their artistic language indicates their deep respect for the animals around them – both real and imagined. Their landscapes were dominated with huge burial mounds of ambitious construction, burying elite members of their society as well as their horses.

This exhibition will be built around material from three different burial complexes in East Kazakhstan: Berel, Shilikty and Eleke Sazy. Saka society included agriculturalists, pastoralists, nomads, settled people, warriors, those engaging in ritual practice, with immense technological skill and deep knowledge of wild and tamed animals. Only now are we beginning to gain an understanding of their culture and how it relates to the people who live in Central Asia today.

Five years ago, a large-scale and unique archaeological research programme was launched in the East Kazakhstan Region of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Identifying and excavating dozens of new archaeological sites to be studied. In 2019, the East Kazakhstan Regional Museum of Local History and the University of Cambridge began working together to arrange joint research projects and an exhibition drawing on material and studies from this important research programme.

This exhibition will bring to the UK Kazakhstani archaeological finds and research from three different burial complexes in East Kazakhstan: Berel, Shilikti and Eleke Sazy. It will allow visitors to discover the life and legacy of the Saka people, revealing their history like never before, and exploring points of resonance with Kazakh culture today.

2021 marks the 30th anniversary of the independent Republic of Kazakhstan, and this partnership between the East Kazakhstan Regional Museum of Local History and the University of Cambridge represents the growing application of archaeological science that is being driven by Kazakhstani researchers. Unlocking clues to the ancient past of this young country, new results from the collaboration will be included in the exhibition and digitally as an ongoing research exhibition legacy.

Discover the rich cultural history of this part of the world, through this unique opportunity, right here in Cambridge.

Location: The Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington Street. CB2 IRB.

Times: Tuesday - Saturday: 10:00-17:00 Sundays/Bank Holiday Mondays: 12:00-17:00.

Free Admission.

Available time slots and booking details can be found on their website.