In summer 2007, a team from Ghent University (Department of Geography, R. Goossens and A.D. Wulf and Department of Archaeology, J. Bourgeois and W. Gheyle), in collaboration with the Gorno-Altaisk State University and S. Marchenko (University of Alaska Fairbanks), conducted research from July 12 to August 12 in the valley of the Karakol River (Ongudai region, Altai Republic, Russian Federation).
In 1950, archaeologist S.I. Rudenko excavated two enormous Scythian kurgans (burial mounds) in the valley of Karakol, on the site of Bashadar. Although the site is located not higher than 1097 m asl, the tombs appeared to be frozen. The perfectly preserved grave goods and sarcophagus are still to be seen in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. But the Bashadar site is not the only place where kurgans are found in Karakol; hundreds of burial sites and ritual monuments are located in the valley, forming a rich archaeological landscape. The team of five archaeologists and two geographers first measured ground control points with a CNAV GPS-receiver, to process VHR historic CORONA satellite images and make a topographical map of the area. Then 1250 archaeological monuments were recorded, and localised with GPS. During the four weeks of fieldwork, only about half of the valley was surveyed due to the huge amount of monuments present. The team is planning to complete the work in the summer of 2008. S. Marchenko successfully downloaded all the temperature data loggers installed last year in the valley of Ulandryk (Kosh-Agatch region, Altai Republic). He installed data loggers in the Karakol Valley at the location of the Bashadar burial sites. These loggers will provide data for the annual temperature evolution in and around the huge kurgans of Bashadar (ca. 40 m diameter), that were at one time frozen.
Wouter Gheyle, Jean Bourgeois, Irénée Heyse (email@example.com)