Category Archives: RUSSIA

DNA From 3,800-Year-Old Individuals Sheds New Light On Bronze Age Families

DNA From 3,800-Year-Old Individuals Sheds New Light On Bronze Age Families

The diversity of family systems in prehistoric societies has always fascinated scientists. A groundbreaking study by Mainz anthropologists and an international team of archaeologists now provides new insights into the origins and genetic structure of prehistoric family communities.

Researchers Jens Blöcher and Joachim Burger from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have analyzed the genomes of skeletons from an extended family from a Bronze Age necropolis in the Russian steppe.

The 3,800-year-old “Nepluyevsky” burial mound was excavated several years ago and is located on the geographical border between Europe and Asia. Using statistical genomics, this society’s family and marriage relationships have now been deciphered.

Location of the burial site in the southern Ural region (ill./©: Joachim Burger)

The study was carried out in cooperation with archaeologists from Ekaterinburg and Frankfurt a. M. and was partly financially supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Russian Science Foundation (RSCF).

The kurgan (burial mound) investigated was the grave of six brothers, their wives, children, and grandchildren. The presumably oldest brother had eight children with two wives, one of whom came from the Asian steppe regions in the east. The other brothers showed no signs of polygamy and probably lived monogamously with far fewer children.

Fascinating snapshot of a prehistoric family

“The burial site provides a fascinating snapshot of a prehistoric family,” explains Jens Blöcher, lead author of the study. “It is remarkable that the first-born brother apparently had a higher status and thus greater chances of reproduction.

The right of the male firstborn seems familiar to us, it is known from the Old Testament, for example, but also from the aristocracy in historical Europe.”

The genomic data reveal even more. Most women buried in the kurgan were immigrants. The sisters of the buried brothers, in turn, found new homes elsewhere. Joachim Burger, senior author of the study, explains: “Female marriage mobility is a common pattern that makes sense from an economic and evolutionary perspective.

While one sex stays local and ensures the continuity of the family line and property, the other marries in from the outside to prevent inbreeding.”

The genomic diversity of the prehistoric women was higher than that of the men

Accordingly, the Mainz population geneticists found that the genomic diversity of the prehistoric women was higher than that of the men.

The women who married into the family thus came from a larger area and were not related to each other. In their new homeland, they followed their husbands into the grave. From this, the authors conclude that in Nepluyevsky there was both “patrilineality”, i.e. the transmission of local traditions through the male line, and “patrilocality”, i.e. the place of residence of a family is the place of residence of the men.

“Archaeology shows that 3,800 years ago, the population in the southern Trans-Ural knew cattle breeding and metalworking and subsisted mainly on dairy and meat products,” comments Svetlana Sharapova, an archaeologist from Ekaterinburg and head of the excavation, adding, “the state of health of the family buried here must have been very poor.

The average life expectancy of the women was 28 years, that of the men 36 years.”

A skeleton from the Nepluyevsky site (photo/©: Svetlana Sharapova)

In the last generation, the use of the kurgan suddenly stopped and almost only infants and small children were found. Sharapova adds, “it is possible that the inhabitants were decimated by disease or that the remaining population went elsewhere in search of a better life.”

Multiple partners and many children for the putative firstborn son

“There is a global connection between different family systems and certain forms of life-style and economy,” says Blöcher. “Nevertheless, human societies are characterized by a high degree of flexibility.” He adds, “in Nepluyevsky, we find evidence of a pattern of inequality typical of pastoralists: multiple partners and many children for the putative firstborn son and no or monogamous relationships for most others.”

The authors find additional genomic evidence that populations genetically similar to Neplujevsky society lived throughout most of the Eurasian steppe belt. Burger comments: “It is quite possible that the local pattern we found is relevant to a much larger area.” Future studies will show to what extent the “Neplujevsky” model can be verified at other prehistoric sites in Eurasia.

Rare 3,000-Year-Old Weavings Discovered In Alaska

Rare 3,000-Year-Old Weavings Discovered In Alaska

During excavations of an ancestral sod house on the shore of Karluk Lake, Kodiak Island, Alaska, archaeologists uncovered rare fragments of woven grass artifacts estimated to be 3,000 years old.

The fragments, which appear to be pieces of mats, are the oldest well-documented examples of Kodiak Alutiiq/Sugpiaq weaving.

Rare 3,000-Year-Old Weavings Discovered In Alaska
Weaving is a long-practiced Alutiiq art. Image credit: Patrick Saltonstall, Alutiiq Museum

“We were excavating a sod house beside Karluk Lake as part of a broader study to understand how Alutiiq people used Kodiak’sinterior,” said Saltonstall. “When we reached the floor, we discovered that the house had burned and collapsed.

The walls of the structure, which were lined with wood, fell into the building and covered a portion of the floor. This sealed the floor quickly and limited burning. As we removed the remains of the walls, we were surprised and excited to find fragments of charred weaving.

It looks like the house had grass mats on the floor. The pieces covered about a two-meter area at the back of the house, perhaps in an area for sleeping,” Alutiiq Museum Curator of Archaeology Patrick Saltonstall explained in a press release.

Weaving is a long-practiced Alutiiq art, but one that is difficult to document archaeologically as fiber artifacts are fragile and rarely preserved.

The Alutiiq Museum’s extensive archaeological collections contain grass and spruce root baskets that are as much as 600 years old but nothing older.

Detail of ca. 3,000-year-old grass matting from ancestral Alutiiq house by Karluk Lake. Image credit: Patrick Saltonstall, Alutiiq Museum

The house that produced the weavings was radiocarbon-dated to about 3,000 years old. The style of the structure and artifacts found in association support this determination.

“It is likely that our ancestors worked with plant fibers for millennia, from the time they arrived on Kodiak 7500 years ago,” said April Laktonen Counceller, the museum’s executive director.

“It makes sense. Plants are abundant and easily harvested, and they are excellent materials for making containers, mats, and other useful items. It’s just very hard to document this practice. This wonderful find extends our knowledge of Alutiiq weaving back an additional 2400 years.”

Close inspection of the woven fragments shows that their makerslaid down long parallel strands of grass (the warp) and then secured them with perpendicular rows of twining (the weft)spaced about an inch apart.

This technique created an open weave, also found in historic examples of Alutiiq grass matting. Small fragments of more complicated braiding may represent the finished edge of a mat.

The field crew carefully lifted the fragile woven fragments off the floor of the sod house and placed them in a specially made box for transport back to Kodiak and the Alutiiq Museum’slaboratory.

The sod house after excavation. The structure is oval and about 4 x 6 meters across. Modern sticks mark the locations of holes left by posts that once held up the structure roof. Image credit: Patrick Saltonstall, Alutiiq Museum

Here, they will be preserved, documented, and made available for study as a loan from Koniag—the regional Alaska Native Corporation for Kodiak Alutiiq people and the sponsor of the research. The corporation owns the land on which the excavation took and has been generously supporting archaeological studies in the region.

“Discoveries like these highlight our Alutiiq people’s innovation and resilience,” said Koniag President Shauna Hegna.“Koniag is humbled to partner with the Alutiiq Museum on critical projects like this.”

Denny, a mysterious child from 90,000 years ago, whose parents were two different human species

Denny, a mysterious child from 90,000 years ago, whose parents were two different human species

More than 90,000 years back in time, a unique child was walking the Earth. This individual was a young human hybrid. Scientists dubbed the ancient girl “Denny,” the only known individual whose parents were from two distinct human species!

The tiny arm or leg fragment belonged to Denisova 11, a 13-year-old hybrid hominin.

In 2018, researchers looking into Denisova Cave in the Altai mountains of Siberia located the skeletal remains of the Denny. With only a bone and teeth to work with, researchers were still able to identify who the individual was.

A new effort, called FINDER, has been launched to explore the Denisovans and the relationships between them, Homo sapiens, and the Neanderthals.

The purpose of the investigation is to gain a further understanding of the interaction between the three species. It is known that the three species interbred, but the study aims to provide further detail of the connections between them.

The purpose of the project, led by Katerina Douka of the Max Planck Institute in Jena, Germany, and a visitor at Oxford University, is to identify where Neanderthals lived when they interacted with Homo sapiens, and why they eventually went extinct.

Studying the history of the Denisovans is difficult due to the fact that the only archaeological site that has yielded their fossils is the Denisovan Cave in Siberia. Moreover, only a few fossils have been unearthed from this site, along with some Neanderthal specimens.

Tom Higham, the deputy director of Oxford University’s Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit and an advisor to Finder, remarks on how great the site is. He states that it is nice and cool inside, thus preserving the DNA in the bones. Unfortunately, he goes on to add that the majority of the bones in the cave were destroyed by hyenas and other carnivores, leaving a mess of tiny, unrecognizable bone fragments scattered across the floor.

Higham states that it is not possible to distinguish between the source of a piece of material, be it from a mammoth, sheep, man, or woman, without a thorough examination. He further explains that even if only a handful of finds are from humans, they are of great value as they provide a great deal of knowledge.

Artist’s reconstruction of the teenage Denisovan. John Bavaro / Fair Use

DNA sequencing of the ancient girl’s bones revealed her to be a product of two distinct species. Her mother was Neanderthal, and her father was a Denisovan. Denny had been living with various Neanderthals and Denisovans in the cave when she tragically passed away at a young age.

It is believed that Neanderthals and Denisovans separated from each other at least 390,000 years ago, making them both now extinct groups of hominins.

A photo of the Denisova Cave.

Analysis of the genome of ‘Denisova 11’ – a bone fragment from the Denisova Cave located in Russia – reveals that the individual had a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father. The father’s genome displays Neanderthal ancestry, belonging to a population linked to a later Denisovan from the cave.

The mother came from a population that is more closely connected to Neanderthals that lived in Europe than to the earlier Neanderthal discovered in Denisova Cave, indicating that migrations between eastern and western Eurasia of Neanderthals happened sometime after 120,000 years ago.

The new study published in the journal Nature indicates that interbreeding between Neanderthals and Denisovans was more common than previously assumed, considering the small number of archaic samples that have been sequenced.

It could be assumed that the extraordinary lineage of Denny suggests that Neanderthals and Denisovans were often engaging in interbreeding, though researchers caution against forming such speculations hastily.

It is evident that the DNA of Neanderthals and Denisovans are different, making it easy to distinguish between them. According to Douka, this suggests that interbreeding between the two did not occur frequently, as otherwise, their DNA would be similar.

It has been demonstrated by prior research that Denisovans and Homo sapiens interbred, yet the question of why this happened at Denisova is still unanswered.

It has been proposed that the cave could be seen as a border crossing for the two species, with the Neanderthals mostly located in Europe and the Denisovans in the east. Periodically, both species would find themselves in the cave at the same time, which could have led to relations between the two.

Detailed studies of Denny’s Neanderthal mom revealed that her genes had a special connection to Neanderthals in Croatia, which suggests that the predecessors of her mother may have been part of a group migrating east from Europe to Denisova – where she and Denny’s father met at the boundaries of their respective homelands.

This is a captivating image, yet more data is needed to authenticate it. Researchers don’t have direct proof that the Denisovans were mainly situated in the east of the cave, notwithstanding, the fact that their genetic material has been identified in the DNA of people in Australia, New Guinea, and different parts of Oceania, reinforces this concept and implies that future investigations for sites should be focused on eastern Russia, China, and south-east Asia.

Though scientists have limited knowledge about the extinct human species known as the Denisovans, experts have recently been able to construct the inaugural facial reconstruction to provide an image of what they may have looked like. This has enabled people to see a vision of what the Denisovans may have appeared to be.

Higham mentions that researchers have numerous inquiries they have yet to answer. For instance, where did the Denisovans extend to, and what is the earliest proof for their divergence from the common ancestor they had with Neanderthals 500,000 years ago?

It may take some time before scientists can locate a bone or two from different areas, but the potential benefits would be worth the wait.

A Siberian cave filled with mammoth, rhino, and bear bones is an ancient hyena lair

A Siberian cave filled with mammoth, rhino, and bear bones is an ancient hyena lair

Inhabitants of Siberia have stumbled upon a remarkable prehistoric time capsule in what paleontologists consider the largest hyena lair ever found in Asia. The cave was untouched for 42,000 years and held a variety of animal bones.

A Siberian cave filled with mammoth, rhino, and bear bones is an ancient hyena lair
The bones found inside the cave in Siberia date back 42,000 years. Image Credit: V. S. Sobolev Institute of Geology and Mineralogy.

Fossils of various creatures, both hunters and hunted, were discovered by paleontologists from the Pleistocene period (spanning from 2.6 million to 11,700 years ago). These include brown bears, foxes, wolves, mammoths, rhinos, yaks, deer, gazelles, bison, horses, rodents, birds, fish, and frogs.

On June 20, the scientists released a video clip (in Russian) of their discovery.

Residents of Khakassia, a republic in southern Siberia, discovered the cave five years ago, according to a translated statement from the V. S. Sobolev Institute of Geology and Mineralogy. However, due to the remoteness of the area, paleontologists weren’t able to fully explore and examine the remains until June 2022.

Paleontologists gathered approximately 880 pounds (400 kilograms) of bones, including two full cave hyena skulls. It is hypothesized that the hyenas resided in the cave due to the gnaw marks on the bones matching hyena teeth.

The skull of a cave hyena found inside the Siberian cave. Image Credit: V. S. Sobolev Institute of Geology and Mineralogy.

“Rhinos, elephants, deer with characteristic bite marks. In addition, we came across a series of bones in anatomical order. For example, in rhinos, the ulna and radius bones are together,” Dmitry Gimranov, senior researcher at the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said in the statement. “This suggests that the hyenas dragged parts of the carcasses into the lair.”

The researchers also found the bones of hyena pups – which tend not to be preserved as they are so fragile – indicating they were raised in the cave. “We even found a whole skull of a young hyena, many lower jaws, and milk teeth,” Gimranov said.

Bones of mammoths, rhinos, wooly bison, yaks, deer, gazelle, and many other species were uncovered in the Siberian cave. Image Credit: V. S. Sobolev Institute of Geology and Mineralogy.

The region of Siberia is teeming with ancient animal remains, which are generally too recent to have been fossilized.

The remains of these animals, including bones, skin, flesh, and even blood, often remain remarkably well-preserved, nearly unchanged from the time of their death. This is primarily due to the cold weather effectively preserving them.

Sent to Yekaterinburg for closer examination, the bones could reveal to researchers information about the flora and fauna of that time, what animals ate, and what the climate was like in this area.

Dmitry Malikov, senior researcher from the Institute of Geology and Mineralogy of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said in the statement.

“We will also get important information from the coprolites,” the fossilized feces of the animals, he added.

Ancient Siberian worm came back to life after 46,000 years, and began reproducing!

Ancient Siberian worm came back to life after 46,000 years, and began reproducing!

A novel nematode species from the Siberian permafrost shares adaptive mechanisms for cryptobiotic survival.

A report from the Washington Post detailed a remarkable discovery by scientists: a female microscopic roundworm had been preserved in the Siberian permafrost for 46,000 years, and when they revived it, the creature started reproducing via parthenogenesis – a process that does not require a mate.

Study site: a) location of the Duvanny Yar outcrope on the Kolyma River, northeastern Siberia, Russia. b) view of the upper part of the outcrop composed of ice wedges and permafrost silty deposits. c) lithostratigraphic scheme of deposits, showing the location of studied rodent borrow (red circle). d) fossil rodent burrow with herbaceous litter and seeds buried in permafrost deposits; (m a.r.l. = meters above river level). PLOS Genetics

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s press release discussed an organism that was in a prolonged dormancy called cryptobiosis for thousands of years. This state, which can be sustained for a long time, halts all metabolic processes, including reproduction, development, and repair.

In the PLOS Genetics journal published on Thursday, researchers identified a new species of worm based on their genome sequencing. They stated that the worm had not been previously classified.

It was recently reported by Live Science that nematodes such as Plectus murrayi and Tylenchus polyhypnus had been revived from moss and herbarium specimens after a few decades.

The new species, Panagrolaimus kolymaensis, however, had been in hibernation for tens of thousands of years.

The female of the species P. kolymaensis has a general morphology which is pictured here. PLOS Genetics

Holly Bik, a deep sea biologist, believes that millions of different species of nematode worms can be found in various habitats, such as ocean trenches, tundras, deserts, and volcanic soils.

Nevertheless, out of these, only 5,000 marine species have been documented by researchers.

Crow, a nematologist from the University of Florida who was unconnected to the research, suggested to the Post that this worm might be a species that vanished in the prior 50,000 years.

Crow commented that it is possible that the nematode is one which has yet to be described, as it is encountered frequently.

Scientists have been aware for some time that minuscule creatures, such as the one studied, have the capacity to cease their functions in order to endure even the most extreme conditions, hence the lack of surprise over the worm’s survival of all those years, as stated in the press release.

The PLOS Genetics paper concluded that nematodes possess capabilities that could enable them to survive for long periods of geological time.

Well-Preserved, 42,000-Year-Old Baby Woolly Mammoth Emerges From Yukon Permafrost

Well-Preserved, 42,000-Year-Old Baby Woolly Mammoth Emerges From Yukon Permafrost

A 42,000-year-old baby mammoth is set to go on display for the first time in Western Europe next month at the Natural History Museum.

The baby mammoth, found in Siberia by a reindeer herder in 2007, is little larger than a dog, and has been nicknamed Lyuba.

Lubya, who was named after the wife of the Siberian reindeer herder that found her, has been described as the most complete preserved mammoth in the world.

One month old when she died, the baby mammoth’s corpse was intact enough that fragments of her eyelashes remained as well as remnants of her mother’s milk in her stomach.

Palaeontologist Matthew McCurry at the exhibit.

“When they did the autopsy on her she is so complete that we could get a look at her insides and see her last meal,” Victoria Herridge, a paleobiologist from the Natural History Museum in London, told the Sunday Times.

“She had milk from suckling her mother and also remnants of faecal matter in her gut, which suggest she had been eating her mother’s dung.

This is something living elephants do as the dung provides the infants with microbes to help them ingest their food.”

Lubya, which means ‘love’ in Russian, is thought to have died after stumbling into a salty marsh bog and slowly drowning in the mud.

The mud then froze, preserving the body until herder Yuri Khudi and his son stumbled across it while searching for firewood by the Yuribei river in north-west Siberia.

Lubya will go on display from 23 May until 7 September 2014 as part of a new exhibition entitled Mammoths: Ice Age Giants. Other species in the exhibition will include the dwarf mammoth and the spiral-tusked Columbian mammoth.

Although some enthusiasts may be hoping that this remarkable specimen is well preserved enough to allow scientists to clone the mammoth, as Herridge notes Lubya’s DNA will have “deteriorated” significantly.

Despite the widespread belief that DNA is easily preserved and resurrected, recent research has shown that the molecule only has a half-life of about 521 years, making Jurassic Park-style cloning an impossibility for now.

Well-Preserved, 42,000-Year-Old Baby Woolly Mammoth Emerges From Yukon Permafrost
Registrars and preparators from the Field Museum join the team at Australian Museum to install the exhibit.

Siberian Princess reveals her 2,500-year-old tattoos

Siberian Princess reveals her 2,500-year-old tattoos

Siberian Princess reveals her 2,500-year-old tattoos
The mummy of a woman called the “Altai Princess” is in the museum of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Novosibirsk, Russia.

Tattoos aren’t just a trendy way for people to express themselves – they’re also apparently a time-honored tradition dating back almost three thousand years.

A Siberian mummy, who researchers believe was buried 2500 years ago, will show off her intricate ink when she finally goes on display this month, and her shockingly well-preserved body art makes her look surprisingly modern.

The mummified body of the young woman, believed to be between 25 and 28 years old, was found in 1993, researchers told The Siberian Times.

Since then she has been kept frozen in a scientific institute, but she will soon be available to the public to be viewed from a glass case at the Republican National Museum in Siberia’s capital of Gorno-Altaisk.

The woman, dubbed in the media as the Ukok “princes,” was found wearing expensive clothing – a long silk shirt and beautifully decorated boots – as well as a horse hair wig.

A sculptor’s impression of how Princess Ukok looked 2,500 years ago.

Archeologists told the paper that because she was not buried with any weapons she was not a warrior, and that she was likely a healer or storyteller.

Though her face and neck weren’t preserved, she was inked across both arms and on her fingers, in what researchers say was an indication of status.

Princess Ukok’s hand, as the scientists saw her first, with marked tattoos on her fingers. She was buried with two men and six horses. Because she was not buried with weapons, researchers think that she might have been a healer or storyteller.

“The more tattoos were on the body, the longer it meant the person lived, and the higher was his position,” lead researcher Natalia Polosmak told the Times.

The woman was buried beside two men whose bodies also bore tattoos, as well as six horses.

A drawing of a tattoo on a warrior’s shoulder.

Researchers think the group belonged to the nomadic Pazyryk people, and that their body art is something special even in comparison to other mummies who have been found wih tattoos in the past.

“Those on the mummies of the Pazyryk people are the most complicated and the most beautiful,” Polosmak told the Times.

This diagram shows the placement and greater detail of the princess’ tattoos.

“It is a phenomenal level of tattoo art,” she said. “Incredible.”

Not everyone was pleased that the mummy was uncovered.

This diagram shows placement of the princess’ tattoos on her shoulder.

Controversy erupted after she was discovered, as many believed she should not have been removed from her burial site. Some locals even believed her grave’s disruption caused a “curse of the mummy” which they blamed for the crash of the helicopter carrying her remains.

The “Altai Princess” mummy was found at the Gorny Mountain Altai by Natalya Polos’mak, a scientist of the Novosibirsk Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

“The Altai people never disturb the repose of the interned,” Rimma Erkinova, deputy director of the Gorno-Altaisk Republican National Museum told the Times. “We shouldn’t have any more excavations until we’ve worked out a proper moral and ethical approach.”

Tattoos that appear on the Princess’ hand. Because she was relatively young, researchers theorize, she had fewer tattoos.

Local authorities in the region have declared the area a ‘zone of peace,’ so no more excavations can be done in an effort to prevent plundering, though scientists believe there are many more mummies that can be found.

3,000-Year-Old “Charioteer” Skeleton With Special Belt Discovered In Siberia

3,000-Year-Old “Charioteer” Skeleton With Special Belt Discovered In Siberia

3,000-Year-Old "Charioteer" Skeleton With Special Belt Discovered In Siberia
The burial includes a distinctive hooked piece of bronze, probably once fixed to a belt around the waist, which is for drivers of horse-drawn chariots to tie the reins and free their hands.

Archaeologists in Siberia have discovered the untouched 3,000-year-old grave of a person thought to be a charioteer — indicating for the first time that horse-drawn chariots were used in the region.

The skeletal remains were interred with a distinctive hooked metal attachment for a belt, which allowed drivers of horse-drawn chariots to tie their reins to their waists and free their hands. This type of artifact has also been found in Chinese and Mongolian graves.

Aleksey Timoshchenko, an archaeologist at the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Live Science in an email that the object was found in its original placement at the waist of the person in the undisturbed grave. 

The burial was found by Russian archaeologists during their latest excavations in the Askizsky region of Khakassia in Siberia, where a railway is being expanded.

“This fact, along with direct analogies in burial mounds of China, allows us to determine their purpose a little more confidently,” he said.

Timoshchenko led the latest expedition to the Askizsky region of Khakassia in Siberia, where Russian archaeologists have already spent several years excavating areas ahead of the expansion of a railway.

The team discovered the charioteer burial and other graves this month near the village of Kamyshta.

Unknown object

Archaeologists think the “charioteer” burial is from the Lugav culture, which occupied the region about 3,000 years ago. But no remains of chariots have ever been found.

Oleg Mitko, an archaeologist at Novosibirsk State University in Russia who’s a consultant for the finds but not an expedition member, said objects like the “charioteer’s belt” had been found before but not understood.

“For a long time in Russian archaeology this was called a PNN — an ‘item of unknown purpose,'” he told Live Science in an email. But recent discoveries of Bronze Age charioteer burials in China, along with the remains of chariots and horses, indicated that “this object is an accessory for a chariot.”

No chariots had been found in Siberian burials, he said, and the hooked bronze belt plate may have been placed in the Late Bronze Age grave as a symbolic substitute.

As well as the distinctive bronze belt piece, archaeologists also found a bronze dagger and jewelry in the tomb.

Burial mound

The tomb of the “charioteer” was found among graves dated to about 3,000 years ago during the time of the Lugav culture, according to a translated statement.

The burial consisted of an earthen mound heaped over a roughly square stone tomb; a bronze knife, bronze jewelry, and the distinctive belt part was among the grave goods. 

Timoshchenko said the Bronze Age people of the Lugav culture were mainly engaged in cattle breeding and were replaced in the region in about the eighth century B.C., during the Early Iron Age, by Scythian people of the Tagar culture.

According to the statement, the latest excavations unearthed burials from three Bronze Age phases in the region: the earliest from about the 11th century B.C., as the Karasuk culture transitioned into the Lugav culture; a second, with the charioteer, from the Lugav culture itself; and a third after the eighth century B.C., from the early Bainov stage of the Tagar culture.