About clay, bricks and tepes…

October 28th, 2023 § 0

Central Asia, and especially the village environment, is an Eldorado of historical construction methods, mainly different forms of clay – unburnt bricks (“kirpič”) and plaster. In the villages, you can directly observe construction methods that are thousands of years old, which are traditional, fast and cheap.
As part of the ArcheoKyrgyz project, I mainly move around remote villages, where from time to time I photograph the mud walls of village houses – not only from a structural point of view, but also for the purpose of studying the processes of extinction (disintegration) of the original architecture.
In the attached gallery I present several photos of the finishing of houses – plaster daub, with the fact that I recorded the circumstances of its creation (when it was created) and whether the surface of the wall is protected from the weather (roof).

My ambition was to strike a correlation between the condition of the clay wall, time and the method of protection that would allow common conclusions. I’m skeptical for now, but it’s possible that my database needs to be more extensive…
Perhaps the most beautiful example of the speed of decomposition of a clay wall is captured in this picture: according to the testimony of local residents, the brick structure is about 40 years old, the roof (on the right) was damaged only a year ago. The right side of the wall is already structurally collapsed, some bricks still retain their shape, others have rounded and melted due to precipitation. How many more rains will it take for this pile of debris to turn into a shapeless mushy mass?

Which brings me to another thought. It’s surprising how many European experts consider the prehistoric tells (tepes) in Asia and SE Europe to be a remnant of waste disposal – I stared in complete disbelief at a specialist lecture on the Neolithic where this idea was clearly formulated. So, once and for all: the tepes of Asia and SE Europe are not the remnants of waste management, but melted mounds of building material that is typical for these areas – unburnt clay. That’s why real tepes do not occur, for example, in Central Europe, where the main building material was wood…

You see? This nice small tepe was a house/tower/whatewer made of bricks… but now only muddy amoeba

Small tepe, Karatay, South Kyrgyzstan.

Small tepe, Karatay, South Kyrgyzstan.


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