A pyramid dating from the early Scythian-Saka period was discovered in the Karaganda region of Kazakhstan. The pyramid is situated on a hill overlooking the Taldy River in the Set district of Karaganda, where excavations were conducted by archaeologists from the local university over four excavation seasons.
According to researchers, the pyramid served as a mausoleum for a ruler of the Begazy Dandibay culture, a Late Bronze Age civilization that flourished during the final phase of the Andronovo period (2000-1150 BCE).
Thriving between the 13th and 10th centuries B.C. in the present-day central regions of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, this civilization is distinguished by its distinctive burial customs, such as the use of kurgans and megalithic mausoleums.
Within the burial chamber of the pyramid, the archaeological team has uncovered a plethora of artifacts, including adorned ceramic vessels, a bronze and gold-ringed arrowhead, and a fragment of pottery bearing markings resembling an early writing system. These discoveries, coupled with the identification of a skull believed to belong to a chieftain from the Andronovo tribe, further support the hypothesis that the pyramid functioned as a royal burial site.
Based on analyses of these findings, Dr. Aibar Kassenali reported that the pyramid’s structure is dated between the 14th and 12th centuries BCE. “Examining the cut stones found in the pyramid, the size of the mausoleum, and the fact that such a large structure was built during the Bronze Age in such a arid region as the steppe is an indication of the high understanding of art and rich spiritual beliefs that the Begazy Dandibay communities had reached,” said Dr. Aibar Kassenali.
A proto-settlement was also discovered in the region during the excavations. Dr. Aibar Kassenali added, “This settlement, covering an area of 15 hectares, existed chronologically during the same historical period as early Mycenaean Greece and the advanced stages of city-states in the Middle Kingdom of Egypt. The settlement features a series of walls, a planned road network, and water collection systems.”
Furthermore, Dr. Aibar Kassenali noted that the pyramid, as evident from rock paintings, served not only as a burial area but also as a sacred space where religious ceremonies were held for the Andronovo communities.
The accounts of ancient historians such as Ctesias of Cnidus and Diodorus of Sicily, detailing the Scythian-Mede wars and the rule of Queen Zarina, offer historical background to the importance of pyramid-shaped tombs in the area.