The Research Project
Xiongnu – the name denotes one of the most powerful tribal alliances of mounted nomads, who founded the first great nomad empire between the 3rd and 4th centuries BC, long before Genghis Khan. This was a state whose boundaries were only ever determined by the outcome of constant combat. Namely, its greatest foe was China or the Han Dynasty, which had ascended to become a great empire, prominently by means of battle with Asian Huns. A clear indicator of the power the Xiongnu tribal alliance must have wielded. But everything that we know about the Xiongnu, was documented by their enemy, the Chinese. The mounted nomads themselves did not know any scripture. So are these sources of information reliable? What counts as propaganda and what as the truth?
Russian archeologist Natalya Polosmak now wants to get to the bottom of things and reconstruct the world of the Xiongnu. Who were they? What was their familial and social structure like? Which religion did they belong to? Did they adhere to a social hierarchy? What role was played by women? How did the mounted nomads succeed in controlling the largest section of the Silk Road? Did they have contact to the West?
Natalya Polosmak has found a way to solve this puzzle: graves. But she does not excavate any graves; she examines the graves of Xiongnu rulers, which can be up to 18m deep. Due to the highly unique conservation conditions used in the graves, organic materials provide evidence, which otherwise would have simply decayed.
With this new evidence uncovered in the Xinognu graves, Natalya Polosmak together with her team has turned over a new leaf in the history of these Asian mounted nomads. The film documents their fascinating work.
Prof. Dr. Nataliya PolosmakLocation