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Sensors (Basel). 2019 Jul 11;19(14). pii: E3074. doi: 10.3390/s19143074.

Integrating Remote Sensing and Geophysics for Exploring Early Nomadic Funerary Architecture in the "Siberian Valley of the Kings".

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Department of Archaeology, University of Sydney, The Quadrangle A14, 2006 Sydney, Australia.
Institute of Archaeological Sciences, University of Bern, Mittelstrasse 43, 3012 Bern, Switzerland.
Institute for the History of Material Culture, Russian Academy of Sciences, Dvortsovaya nabereznaya 18, 191186 St. Petersburg, Russia.
Cantonal Archaeology Aargau, Industriestrasse 3, 5200 Brugg, Switzerland.
Archaeological Institute, University of Cologne, Albertus-Magnus-Platz, 50923 Cologne, Germany.
State Key Laboratory of Information Engineering in Surveying, Mapping and Remote Sensing, Wuhan University, Luoyu Road 129, Wuhan 430079, China.


This article analyses the architecture of the Early Iron Age royal burial mound Tunnug 1 in the "Siberian Valley of the Kings" in Tuva Republic, Russia. This large monument is paramount for the archaeological exploration of the early Scythian period in the Eurasian steppes, but environmental parameters make research on site difficult and require the application of a diversity of methods. We thus integrate WorldView-2 and ALOS-2 remote sensing data, geoelectric resistivity and geomagnetic survey results, photogrammetry-based DEMs, and ortho-photographs, as well as excavation in order to explore different aspects of the funerary architecture of this early nomadic monument. We find that the large royal tomb comprises of a complex internal structure of radial features and chambers, and a rich periphery of funerary and ritual structures. Geomagnetometry proved to be the most effective approach for a detailed evaluation of the funerary architecture in our case. The parallel application of several surveying methods is advisable since dataset comparison is indispensable for providing context.


Early Iron Age; Scythian; Siberia; applied geophysics; burial mound; early nomadic; funerary architecture; steppe

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