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Chinese Mirror from the Late Sarmatian Site Cherny Yar

Kraeva, L; Radivojevic, M; Ravich, I; Chernikova, L; Shuteleva, I; Shcherbakov, N; (2018) Chinese Mirror from the Late Sarmatian Site Cherny Yar. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Serija 4. Istorija. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnoshenija , 23 (3) pp. 176-188. 10.15688/jvolsu4.2018.3.16. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper provides the description and results of interdisciplinary research into the Chinese mirror from the elite Late Sarmatian burial mound Cherny Yar, located in the south of the Orenburg region (oblast) in the southern Urals, and dated by the 2nd – 3rd cc. AD. The mirror was found in a wooden case made of wooden twigs rolled in a spiral. It is a circular disc with a diameter of 17 cm with a loop-shaped handle in the center, and its outer surface is decorated with a complex ornament and symbols. We’ve conducted X-ray fluorescence analysis, optical and scanning electron microscopy with an energydispersive spectrometer, as well as linguistic analysis. The metallographic examination shows that the mirror was produced by casting in a low-heat-conducting clay mould or a stone mould, while its microstructure was characteristic for cast high-tin bronzes with lead. The object was cast and, most likely, quickly cooled. There are no traces of silver or tin coating on the mirror. The addition of lead was necessary to reduce porosity and improve fluidity, as well as to obtain the desired pattern from the mould. Both methods of studying microstructure (metallography and electron microscopy) confirm that, when it comes to mirror manufacturing technology, this sample could not be produced in the Sarmatian culture environment, but had analogies in other territories, such as China, in particular. This is also confirmed by a characteristic ornament and the presence of symbols on the mirror. The inscriptions on the mirror refer to the style of Zhuangshu, to its simplified version – Xiaozhuan. Symbols on the mirror show 12 signs, the so-called earthly branches, which are associated with 12 animals of the annual cycle, some of which are depicted side by side.

Type: Article
Title: Chinese Mirror from the Late Sarmatian Site Cherny Yar
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.15688/jvolsu4.2018.3.16
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2018.3.16
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: mirror, China, Sarmatians, Southern Urals, X-ray fluorescence analysis, scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive spectrometer.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10137847
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