Arkaim is an archaeological site in Russia, situated in the steppe of the Southern Ural.
It was discovered in 1987 by a team of archaeologists led by Gennady Zdanovich, preventing the planned flooding of the area for the creation of a reservoir.
Arkaim is attributed to the early Proto-Indo-Iranian of the Sintashta culture, which some scholars believe represents the proto-Indo-Iranians before their split into different groups and migration to Central Asia and from there to Persia and India and other parts of Eurasia (see Indo-Iranian migration theory).
Scholars have identified the structure of Arkaim as the cities built “reproducing the model of the universe” described in ancient Aryan/Iranian spiritual literature, the Vedas and the Avesta.
The structure consists of three concentric rings of walls and three radial streets, reflecting the city of King Yima described in the Rigveda. The foundation walls and the dwellings of the second ring are built according to swastika-like patterns; the same symbol is found on various artifacts.
Arkaim is designated as a “national and spiritual shrine” of Russia and has become a holy site for Rodnover, Zoroastrian and other religious movements.
The fortified citadel of Arkaim dates back to the 17th and 16th centuries BCE. More than twenty other structures built according to similar patterns have been found in a larger area spanning from the southern Urals’ region to the north of Kazakhstan, forming the so-called “Land of Towns“.
Structure of Arkaim
Arkaim was a circular stronghold consisting of two concentric bastions made of adobe with timber frames and covered with unfired clay bricks.
Within the circles, close to the bastions, sixty dwellings stood, The dwellings had hearths, cellars, wells and metallurgical furnaces. They opened towards an inner circular street paved with wood. The street was lined by a covered drainage gutter with pits for water collection.
At the center of the complex was a rectangular open space. The complex had four entrances, consisting of intricately constructed passages and oriented towards the cardinal points.
Evidence suggests that the complex was built according to a plan, which indicates that the society had a developed structure of roles and had leaders with great authority.
Religious movements and mysticism
The discovery of Arkaim reinvigorated the debate about the original homeland of the Indo-Europeans, seemingly confirming its location in central Eurasia.
After their discovery, Arkaim and the Land of Towns have been presented as the “land of the Aryans“, the center of statehood of a monarchical type, and ultimately the model for a new spiritual civilization harmonized with the universe. Agencies related to the Russian Orthodox Church have been critical of such activities of Arkaim’s archaeology.
The discovery of Arkaim and the Land of Towns has fueled the growth of schools of thought among Rodnovers, Rerikhians, Zoroastrians and other movements which regard the archaeological site as the second homeland of the Aryans, who originally dwelt in Arctic regions and migrated southwards when the weather there became glacial, then spreading from central Eurasia to the east, south and west, founding other civilisations.
According to them, all Vedic knowledge originated in the southern Urals. Some of them identify Arkaim as the Asgard of Odin spoken of in Germanic literature. The Russian Zoroastrian movement identifies Arkaim as the place where Zoroaster was born.