Category Archives: RUSSIA

Eerie train graveyard gives a glimpse into the golden age of Soviet steam trains

Eerie train graveyard gives a glimpse into the golden age of Soviet steam trains

In Russia’s central Perm region, near the village of Shumkovo, a cemetery lies on the sidetrack. Instead of tombs and headstones, it is filled with trains from the 20th century.

There are dozens of steam locomotives, the oldest dating back to 1936 and the youngest from 1956. They sit on rusty rails, in the middle of overgrown vegetation.

During the Soviet era, the location served as a backup railway base in case of nuclear war. At that time, around 140 locomotives were docked there. But, as electric power replaced steam, these reserve trains hit the end of the line.

As railway authorities waned, maintenance work on the locomotives eventually came to a complete halt, leaving the way for rust.

Many of the trains have bought and taken away by Chinese owners. Others have been restored to become exhibits at museums and memorials.

Grigoriy Gordeyev has managed the place for 30 years and resists calls to have the locomotives scrapped down for metal.

“You can see for yourself how they (the locomotives) are living out their lives, just standing there,” he says.

“People are interested, they come here, take photos, observe. It’s our history after all.”

Visitor and photographer Alexander Osipov, also believes that the trains take you on a trip back in time.

“It’s like you go several decades into the past, especially when you get inside a steam train. There are all these levers, which someone touched, you get this feeling. You really feel that there are fascists and the Red Army are running just outside the window. It is all really very interesting,” he says.

According to museum manager Alexander Yemelyanov, Russian steam locomotives dating to early 20th century are a rarity nowadays.

“Trains were mass-produced technology and the attitude towards them was neither reverent nor very serious. They were sent to be melted for disposal. And unfortunately, many types of locomotives at the beginning of the 20th century were not preserved,” he explains.

Holding hands for 5,000 years, a couple with mysterious jade rings and dagger

Holding hands for 5,000 years, a couple with mysterious jade rings and dagger

An elderly couple who have held hands for the last five thousand years were revealed by archaeologists in a Bronze Age grave. The skeletons, thought an ancient dignitary and his wife or lover, were uncovered at a burial site overlooking Baikal lake in Siberia.

The elderly couple have been holding hands for the past 5,000 years

They were found decorated with unusual rings made of rare white jade, one of which was placed above the man eye socket. It is thought that the couple is from the ancient Bronze Age ‘Glazkov Culture,’ the oldest and deepest lake in the world that lived around Baikal.

Intriguingly, Russian scientists have not yet revealed details of a ‘metal implement’ discovered inside a leather pouch placed between the man’s kneecaps.

The skeletons are believed to be an ancient dignitary and his wife or lover

Three jade rings were found placed on the male’s chest, while a 20-inch jade dagger, made from the same rare stone, was also unearthed inside the grave.

Archaeologist Dr Dmitry Kichigin, of Irkutsk National Research Technical University, said the rings were ‘somehow connected’ with the pair’s ‘ideas about the afterlife’.

They were found decorated with unusual rings made from rare white jade

“In the grave we found male and female skeletons, lying on their backs, heads to the west, hand in hand,” he said.

“It would be very interesting to find out the purposes of the massive jade knife, which we found near the woman, was used for.

“We also found some metal implement in a small leather bag between male’s kneecaps.”

Pendants of red deer and musk deer teeth were found on the man’s skull, and around the feet.

But while the male skeleton is complete, rodents have destroyed the upper part of the female.

While the male skeleton is complete, rodents have destroyed the upper part of the female

Dr Kichigin said he believed the couple could be ‘an owner and his concubine’.

The burial site near the lake is at a ‘sacred place for ancient people’, where Neolithic remains were also discovered.

The couple are thought to be from the ancient Bronze Age ‘Glazkov Culture’

The precise location is being kept secret to avoid it being ransacked by treasure hunters.

“We can expect a lot of interesting discoveries on this archaeological site, so we plan to continue our work next year,” Dr Kichigin told The Siberian Times.

Female warrior was buried in the ‘riding position’ as if on a horse journeying into the afterlife 2,400 years ago

Female warrior was buried in the ‘riding position’ as if on a horse journeying into the afterlife 2,400 years ago

The burial of the Amazon with a headdress made of precious metal dated back to the second half of the 4th century BC was found by the members of the Don expedition of IA RAS during the examination of the cemetery Devitsa V of Voronezh Oblast.

The plate of the head dress (stlengis). The barrow №9 of the cemetery Devitsa V.

This is the first-ever found in Middle Don river, and well preserved ceremonial headdress of a rich Scythian woman, earlier archaeologists found only fragments of such headdresses. Valerii Guliaev, the head of Don expedition, announced the first results of the examination on the 6th of December at the session of Academic Council of IA RAS.

“Such headdresses have been found a bit more than two dozen and they all were in “tzar” or not very rich barrows of the steppe zone of Scythia. We first found such headdress in the barrows of the forest-steppe zone and what is more interesting the headdress was first found in the burial of an Amazon”, says Valerii Guliaev.

Cemetery Devitsa V which was called so after the name of the local village has been known since 2000s. It consists of 19 mounds part of which is almost hidden as this region is an agricultural zone which is currently ploughed. Since 2010 the site has been studied by the specialists of the Don expedition of IA RAS.

By the time of the excavation works the barrow №9 of the cemetery Devitsa V was a small hill of 1 m height and 40 m in diameter. Under the centre of the mound, the archaeologists found the remains of the tomb where the narrow entrance-dromos from the eastern side led to. In ancient times the tomb was covered by oak blocks which were laid crisscross and rested on 11 strong oak piles. The grave pit was surrounded by the clay earthwork taken from the ground during the construction of the grave.

One was a matriarch aged between 45 and 50 who was buried wearing her decorative Scythian ceremonial headdress known as a Kalaf with amphora-shaped pendants

In the barrow four women of different age were buried: two young women of 20-29 years old and 25-35 years old, a teenage girl of 12-13 years old and a woman of 45-50 years old. The burial was made simultaneously as one of the piles supported the floor of the tomb was in the dromos and completely overlaid the entrance so that it would be absolutely impossible to overtake it during next burials.

The burial was robbed in ancient times. The robbers broke into the tomb from the north when the floor had already fallen and the sepulchre was buried i.e. in 100 or 200 years after the barrow was filled. However, only northern and eastern parts of the tomb had been robbed where there were the remains of the teenager and one of the young women.

Apart from the spread remains we found in the northern part of the pit more than 30 iron arrowheads, an iron hook in the shape of a bird, fragments of horse harness, iron hooks for hanging harness, iron knives, fragments of moulded vessels, multiple animals’ bones. In filling the robbers’ passage the broken black lacquer lacythus with red-figure palmette dated back to the second –third quarter of the 4th c BC was found.

At the southern and western wall, there were two untouched skeletons laid on the wooden beds covered by grass beddings. One of them belonged to a young woman buried in a “position of a horseman”. As the researches of the anthropologists have shown to lay her in such way the tendons of her legs had been cut. Under the left shoulder of a “horsewoman”, there was a bronze mirror, on the left, there were two spears and on the left hand, there was a bracelet made of glass beads. In the legs, there were two vessels: a moulded cassolette and a black lacquer one hand cantharos which was made in the second quarter of the 4th c BC.

The 2,400-year-old female warrior was discovered at the Devitsa V ancient necropolis in Russia’s Voronezh region

The second buried was a woman of 45-50 years old. For the Scythian time, it was a respectable age as the life expectancy of a woman was 30-35 years old. She was buried in a ceremonial headdress, calathos, the plates of which were preserved decorated with the floral ornament and the rims with the pendants in the shape of amphorae.

As the researches have shown the jewellery was made from the alloy where approximately 65-70% was gold and the rest is the pollution of copper, silver and a small per cent of iron. This is quite a high percent of the gold for Scythian jewellery which was often made in the workshops of Panticapaeum from electrum, the alloy of gold and silver whereas the gold could be approximate of 30%.

Several vessels were found at the burial site including a black lacquer one-handed kanfar (left), a black lacquer ariballic lekif with red-figured palmette (centre) and a molded incense burner (right)
A giant bronze hand mirror the size of a frying pan (left) and iron spearheads (right) were also found buried at the site

“Found calathos is a unique find. This is the first headdress in the sites of Scythian epoch found on Middle Don and it was found in situ on the location on the skull. Of course, earlier similar headdresses were found in known rich barrows of Scythia. However, only a few were discovered by archaeologists.

They were more often found by the peasants, they were taken by the police, landowners and the finds had been through many hands when they came to the specialists. That is why it is not known how well they have been preserved. Here we can be certain that the find has been well preserved”, noted Valerii Guliaev.

Along with the older woman an iron knife was laid wrapped into a piece of fabrique and an iron arrowhead of quite a rare type, tanged with a forked end. These finds and also many details of the weapon and horse harness allow suggesting that the Amazons, women-warriors whose institution was in the Scythian epoch among Iranian nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes of Eastern Europe, were buried in this barrow. Such horsewomen probably were cattle, belonging and dwelling guardians while the men went to long-term warpaths.

“The Amazons are a common Scythian phenomenon and only on Middle Don during the last decade our expedition has discovered approximately 11 burials of young armed women. Separate barrows were filled for them and all burial rites which were usually made for men were done for them. However, we come across burials with four Amazons of such different age for the first time”, said Valerii Guliaev.

The burial was made in autumn at the end of the warm period. The researches done by paleozoologists of IA RAS helped to figure it out. In the grave pit, the bones of six-eight months old lamb were found which some time ago had been in a bronze cooking pot dag into the ground in the centre of the grave.

The robbers took the pot which was of great value and the bones greened from being rested in a bronze dish for a long time had been thrown away. Since the sheep usually lamb in March-April, it was concluded that the burial which the barrow had been filled for was done not later than November.

The finds in the burial have raised questions for scientists who still do not have any answers.

“We have come across an enigma: we have two women in their prime of life, one is a teenager and another is a woman quite old for the Scythian epoch. It is not clear how they could die at the same moment. They do not have any traces of bones injuries. These women’s bones have been spread. There are some marks of tuberculosis and brucellosis, but these illnesses cannot cause death simultaneously. That is why we still cannot understand what the cause of death was and why four women of different age were buried at the same time”, asks Valerii Guliaev.

Provided by Institute of Archaeology of Russian Academy of Sciences

The 2,500-Year-old ancient Greek city, now about one-third of the city is underwater

The 2,500-Year-old ancient Greek city, now about one-third of the city is underwater

The Foundation Oleg Deripaska Volnoe Delo and the Russian Academy of Archaeology uncovered parts of marble stele with inscriptions of ancient Persian King Darius I.

Discovered in the ancient town of Phanagoria, in the southern area of Krasnodar, the stele is assessed to date back to the first half of the 5th century B.C. Archaeologists doing excavations in the area say the find has good chances of becoming a world sensation.

The stele with a signature in the name of Persian King Darius I was unearthed in the centre of Phanagoria, the remains of an ancient Greek city near Crimea and the Black Sea during an archaeological expedition that has been supported by Volnoe Delo Foundation since 2004.

During excavations in Phanagoria was discovered foundations of the building, covering an area of 12 square meters. It is the building and call the temple that once stood on the site. In addition, there was discovered a temple, archaeologists were able to detect more than 20 burial complexes and the crypt, which is attributed to the Roman times. In this crypt were buried several generations, so we tell ourselves archaeologists.

The decoded inscriptions on the stele state someone made them in the name of the Persian King Darius I who lived from 550-486 B.C. The stele has an inscription in the ancient Persian language. The approximate assessment dates the find to the first half of the 5th century B.C.

The text contains a word unregistered before and roughly interpreted as the place named Miletus, one of the biggest cities in Ionia, a region known as Asia Minor now. Miletus stood at the head of the so-called Ionian uprising of Greek city-states against Darius I. It was suppressed in 494 B.C.

Fragments of a building dated 5th century with Roman holes

Archaeologists believe the king put up a marble stele in the city after his victory over the Greeks. The monument had a text on it, reporting on the king’s triumph. Later on, a fragment of the overturned and broken stele got to Phanagoria – quite possibly, as ballast on a ship that called into the Phanagoria port, since there is no natural stone of the kind on the Taman peninsula.

At present, the stele is undergoing scrutiny at the restoration laboratory of the Phanagoria Research and Cultural Center. The find has good chances of becoming a world sensation.

Darius I, a Persian ruler from the Achaemenian dynasty considerably expanded the territory of his country with the aid of wars against the Getae, Thrace, Lemnos, Imbros, and Macedonia. He was buried in the mausoleum built on the cliffs at Naqsh-e Rustam near Persepolis on his order and decorated with sculptures.

Apart from the stele, the archaeologists have found in the acropolis the remainders of ancient fortress walls, which in itself is an important even in classical archaeology.

The remains of the wall of a small structure are seen in the foreground.

Vladimir Kuznetsov, Doctor of historical sciences and the head of the Phanagorian expedition:

“The inscription on the stele made in the name of King Darius I is evidently devoted to the crushing of the Ionian revolt. The discovery places Phanagoria in the context of one of the most important events of ancient history, which had far-reaching consequences for the Greeks as well as the Persians, and makes it possible to trace the connections of this colony with other parts of the Greek world and analyze its significance in advancing Hellenistic civilization on the Black Sea coast”

Volnoe Delo Foundation, one of Russia’s biggest privately-held charity funds run by a businessman and industrialist Oleg Deripaska, has supported research activities in the 2550-year-old city of Phanagoria since 2004. The Foundation has allocated over $10 million to Phanagoria fieldwork over the past 15 years.

Now Phanagoria is one of the best-equipped archaeological expeditions in Russia with its own scientific and cultural centre, up-to-date equipment for above-ground and underwater excavation and diverse team of specialists involved in the fieldwork.

Phanagoria archaeological expedition.

Among the recent discoveries made at Phanagoria are remains of a palace of Mithradates VI dated the 1st century B.C., an ancient naval ram used by the army of Mithradates VI, a tomb with a stepped ceiling, the oldest temple unearthed on the Russian territory dating back to the 5th century B.C. and a number of submerged objects e.g. ancient city’s streets covered with sand, Phanagoria’s port structures, ship debris.

Excavation works cover several areas that include the 2,500-square-metre acropolis at the centre of the ancient city, the eastern necropolis, an ancient cemetery that served as a burial place from the very founding of the city, and a submerged part of the city. What makes the expedition unique is the mix of diversified specialists working together.

Apart from archaeologists and historians, there are anthropologists, soil scientists, paleozoologists, numismatists and other researchers. A complex approach to the study of Phanagoria’s cultural relics helps to restore the residents’ way of living, religious beliefs, economic cooperation, as well as their roles in military conflicts.

About Phanagoria

Phanagoria is one of the main antiquity monuments on Russian soil. Founded in the mid-sixth century B.C. by Greek colonists, the city has long been one of the two capitals of the Bosporan Kingdom, an ancient state located in eastern Crimea and the Taman Peninsula.

Phanagoria was the major economic and cultural centre of the Black Sea region, one of the biggest Greek cities, the first capital of Great Bulgaria, one of the main cities of Khazar Kaganate. It is also one of the ancient centres of Christianity.

Saint Andrew was believed to preach in Phanagoria. The city boasts the largest Jewish community in the Black Sea region: the first synagogue in Russia was built in Phanagoria in 16th century A.D.

In the 9-10th centuries, the residents abandoned the city for reasons still unknown. Phanagoria is surrounded by Russia’s largest necropolis covering an area of over 300 hectares. The total volume of the cultural layers is 2.5 million cubic meters of soil; the layer’s depth is up to seven meters. No single building has been erected in the city since ancient times, which has helped preserve the ruins and the historical artefacts.

Regular archaeological expeditions have been held in Phanagoria since the late 1930s. As of now, only two per cent of the city’s territory has been studied. Phanagoria is located in the Temryuksky District in the Krasnodar region.

39,000-Year-old Perfectly preserved Ice Age cave bear found in Arctic Russia

39,000 Year Old Perfectly preserved Ice Age cave bear found in Arctic Russia

Scientists at the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk, Russia, announced the discovery of a well-preserved cave bear on the New Siberian island of Bolshyoy Lyakhovsky, Anna Liesowska reports for the Siberian Times.

The adult bear lived its life sometime in the last Ice Age, at the same time as large animals like woolly mammoths, mastodons and sabre-toothed tigers.

When the bear died, permafrost preserved its soft tissues, organs and fur, making it the best-preserved example of a cave bear found yet.

This cave bear probably lived between 22,000 and 39,500 years ago, and researchers hope to get a better estimate with the closer study.

Previously scientists only had been able to discover the bones of cave bears that became extinct 15,000 years ago.

Scientists of the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk, the premier centre for research into woolly mammoths and other prehistoric species, hailed the find as groundbreaking.

In a statement issued by the university, researcher Lena Grigorieva emphasized that “this is the first and only find of its kind — a whole bear carcass with soft tissues.”

“It is completely preserved, with all internal organs in place, including even its nose,” Grigorieva said. “This find is of great importance for the whole world.”

A preliminary analysis indicated that the adult bear lived 22,000 to 39,500 years ago.

“It is necessary to carry out radiocarbon analysis to determine the precise age of the bear,” the university quoted researcher Maxim Cheprasov as saying.

The bear carcass was found by reindeer herders on Bolshoy Lyakhovsky Island. It is the largest of the Lyakhovsky Islands, which are part of the New Siberian Islands archipelago that lies between the Laptev Sea and the East Siberian Sea.

At about the same time, a well-preserved carcass of a cave bear cub has also been found in another area in Yakutia’s mainland, the university said. It didn’t describe its condition in detail but noted that scientists are hopeful of obtaining its DNA.

Recent years have seen major discoveries of mammoths, woolly rhinos, Ice Age foal, several puppies and cave lion cubs as the permafrost melts across vast areas in Russia’s region of Siberia.

300 Million Year Old Machinery Found in Russia

300 Million-Year-Old Machinery Found In Russia, Experts Say Aluminum Gear Not The Result Of Natural Forces, May Be Extraterrestrial

The Voice of Russia and other Russian sources are reporting that a 300 million-year-old piece of aluminum machinery has been found in Vladivostok. Experts say a gear rail appears to be manufactured and not the result of natural forces. 

According to Yulia Zamanskaya, when a resident of Vladivostok was lighting the fire during a cold winter evening, he found a rail-shaped metal detail which was pressed in one of the pieces of coal that the man used to heat his home. Mesmerized by his discovery, the responsible citizen decided to seek help from the scientists of the Primorye region. After the metal object was studied by the leading experts the man was shocked to learn about the assumed age of his discovery.

The metal detail was supposedly 300 million years old and yet the scientists suggest that it was not created by nature but was rather manufactured by someone. The question of who might have made an aluminum gear in the dawn of time remains unanswered.

The find was very much like a toothed metal rail, created artificially. It was like parts are often used in microscopes, various technical and electronic devices say writer Natalia Ostrowski at KP UA Daily. 

Nowadays, finding a strange artifact in coal is a relatively frequent occurrence. The first discovery of this sort was made in 1851 when the workers in one of the Massachusetts mines extracted a zinc silver-incrusted vase from a block of unmined coal which dated all the way back to the Cambrian era which was approximately 500 million years ago.

Sixty one years later, American scientists from Oklahoma discovered an iron pot which was pressed into a piece of coal aged 312 million years old. Then, in 1974, an aluminum assembly part of unknown origin was found in a sandstone quarry in Romania.

Reminiscent of a hammer or a support leg of a spacecraft “Apollo”, the piece dated back to the Jurassic era and could not have been manufactured by a human. All of these discoveries not only puzzled the experts but also undermined the most fundamental doctrines of modern science.

The metal detail which was recently found by Vladivostok resident is yet another discovery which perplexed the scientists. The coal in which the metal object was pressed was delivered to Primorye from Chernogorodskiy mines of Khakasia region. Knowing that the coal deposits of this region date 300 million years back, Russian experts inferred that the metal detail found in these deposits must be an age-mate of the coal.

Another question that interests Russian scientists is whether the aluminum alloy is of Earthly origin. It is known from the study of meteorites that there exists extra-terrestrial aluminum-26 which subsequently breaks down to magnesium-26. The presence of 2 percent of magnesium in the alloy might well point to the alien origin of the aluminum detail. It could also be evidence of some past, unknown civilization on Earth. Nonetheless, further testing is needed to confirm this hypothesis.

It is the first such finding in coal made in Russia, according to anomaly researcher and biologist Valery Brier, who took microscopic samples of the aluminum for testing.  Valery Brier performed X-ray diffraction analysis of the metal. It showed very pure aluminum with microimpurities of magnesium of only 2 – 4 percent.

The find is very much like a toothed metal rail, created artificially. It was like parts that are often used in microscopes, as well as various technical and electronic devices.

While exploring core samples (rock samples) that were raised from a 9-meter depth during the drilling of the seabed to support the bridge on a Russian island near Cape Nazimova,  strange metal alloys were discovered that were “preserved” in the prehistoric sandstone (age – 240 million years old).  

The  pieces of special alloys had an unusual composition and were clearly not used in the drilling machinery. The alloys, said Brier, were artificial and constructed by intelligent beings.  

Reconstruction of the item found near Cape Nazimova

Not so long ago in Russia a mechanical device was found in volcanic rock which was dated 400 million years before the current era (B.C.E)

It was found on the remote Kamchatka Peninsula, 150 miles from the village of Tigil, by archaeologists at the University of St. Petersburg among found strange fossils. The reliability of the finds has been certified. According to archaeologist Yuri Golubev the find amazed experts as it was some sort of a machine.

The most ancient vase on Earth was discovered in 1851 in Massachusetts when blasting in the quarry. It is a silver-zinc vase inlaid with fine silver in the form of the vine. The age of this vase, according to the rock in which it was found, is 534 million years old

Another strange artefact that was found in coal is the iron pot shown below. It was found in 1912 in Oklahoma in a piece of coal with an estimated age of 312 million years. 

In Romania in 1974, in a sandstone quarry of not less than 1 million years old was found aluminum parts, reminiscent of a hammer or a support leg landing spacecraft “Viking” and “Apollo”.

Never before seen strange 5,000-year-old clay figurine with a tattooed face and bone mask

Never before seen strange 5,000-year-old clay figurine with a tattooed face and bone mask

In Russia, a macabre was found it is a 5000-year-old mass grave containing the bodies of five decapitated individuals.  Archaeologists suspect the ancient Odinov culture in Siberia were head cultists.

Professor Vyacheslav Molodin said that the graveyard of Ust-Tartas 2 in the city of Novosibirsk comprises three decapitated adults and two teenagers. It is assumed that their heads were cut after death – and then kept for worship.

‘Odinov people definitely had a head or skull cult,’ said the archaeologist.

‘It is a characteristic feature of this culture that they had graves with cut off heads. They were perhaps put into a sanctuary, or buried separately in a different way.’

In another grave on the same site, an astonishing figurine has been found on the shoulder of an ancient woman who was laid to rest with her head on a man’s abdomen.

The skeletons of the ancient presumed lovers were cocooned together under a birch bark blanket for five millennia, but in this case, their heads were not severed.

The man lay on his back, she on her front, facing him in a timeless embrace. Perched on the female’s shoulder was a palm-sized clay figurine with a tattooed face.

Bronze Age statuette with a tattooed face was found on the shoulder of the buried ancient woman. It features a deep recess down its centre
Dr Molodin called the Bronze Age figurine discovery the ‘most astonishing find’ of the summer archaeological season this year
‘Interestingly, our anthropologists and genetics found that the Odino people were Mongoloids, yet the face of the figurine had clear Caucasian features. We don’t see the gender of the figurine, which is unusual, and we can’t say if it was dressed’, said Vyacheslav Molodin. Pictures: Novosibirsk Institute of Archeology and Ethnography

It has a mask made of bone – horse vertebrae – decorated with what appears to be an image of a bear’s muzzle, say scientists. Inside the grave, it had been placed on its front and had its head broken off.

It was then turned upside down so that it ‘looked up’ towards its owner in a bizarre ritual – something ‘yet unseen’ by Novosibirsk archaeologists. 

One side of the middle of the statuette also has a long narrow hole, which had a bronze plate and also some organic substance inside it.  Chemical tests are needed to establish more about what was placed inside that opening. 

Dr Molodin said the discovery was unique.

‘We’ve never come across anything like this, despite our extensive knowledge of the Odinov culture’s burial rites,’ he said to the Siberian Times. 

‘The woman must have been an unusual person to have such a figurine “escorting” her to the afterlife.’

Dr Molodin, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), called the Bronze Age figurine discovery the ‘most astonishing find’ of the summer archaeological season.

While the Odinov cattle-breeding people were Mongoloids, the face of the figurine ‘has obviously Caucasian features’ with ‘big eyes and a snub nose’, he said.

This was a tiered grave that had two more people buried beneath the loving couple that were facing each other.

It’s possible the palm-sized figurine was hoped to escort the ‘unusual’ woman to the afterlife. It had its head broken off so it ‘looked up’ at its owner in a bizarre ritual

Scythian Grave Unearthed in Southern Siberia

Scythian Grave Unearthed in Southern Siberia

A 2,500-year-old grave has been discovered in Siberia by archaeologists, with the remains of four people of ancient Tagar culture — two guerrillas including two warriors, a male and female  — and a stash of their metal weaponry.

Scythian Grave Unearthed in Southern Siberia
A man, two women and an infant were buried in this grave about 2,500 years ago in what is now Siberia.

The early Iron Age burial contained the skeletal remains of a Tagarian man, woman, infant, and older woman, as well as a slew of weapons and artifacts, including bronze daggers, knives, axes, bronze mirrors, and a miniature comb made from an animal horn, according to the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. 

The Tagar culture, a part of the Scythian civilization (nomadic warriors who lived in what is now southern Siberia), often buried its dead with miniature versions of real-life objects, likely to symbolize possessions they thought were needed in the afterlife. In this case, however, the deceased was laid to rest with full-size objects, the archaeologists said. 

It’s not yet clear how these individuals died, but perhaps an illness caused their deaths, the archaeologists said.

A team from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography found the burial in the southern part of Khakassia, a region in Siberia, ahead of construction work on a railroad.

The finding is remarkable, given that grave robbers have looted most known Tagarian graves, Yuri Vitalievich Teterin, head of the excavation, said in a statement. (Of note, this culture is different than the fictional “Targaryen” dynasty from the TV drama “Game of Thrones.”)

The remains of the man and woman, who likely died in their 30s or 40s, were laid down on their backs, with large ceramic vessels next to each of them. The man also had two sets of weapons (two bronze daggers and two axes), and the woman had one set, according to the statement.

The woman’s weapons, including a long-handled instrument, perhaps a hatchet or battle ax, were an unusual find; the Tagarians often buried their women with weapons, but those were usually long-range weapons, such as arrowheads, noted Oleg Andreevich Mitko, a leader of the excavation and head of archaeology at Novosibirsk State University in Russia. 

Some of metal grave goods found in the group burial.

The infant’s remains were in bad shape, the archaeologists found.

An aerial view of the burial mount at the foot of Mount Aar-tag.

“The remains of a newborn baby, no more than a month old, were also found in the burial, but fragments of its skeleton were scattered throughout the grave, possibly as a result of the activity of rodents,” Olga Batanina, an anthropologist at the Paleodata laboratory of natural scientific methods in archeology, said in the statement. 

At the man and woman’s feet, lay the remains of an older woman of about 60 years of age; her body was positioned on her right side, with her knees bent. Next to her, archaeologists found a small ceramic vessel and a comb with broken teeth. 

It’s unclear how these people were related to one another, but a forthcoming DNA analysis may reveal whether they had family ties. 

The Tagar culture lasted for about 500 years, from about the eighth to the third centuries B.C.; its people were spread across the Minusinsk Basin, a landscape that is a mix of the steppe, forest-steppe, and foothills, according to the statement. 

The archaeologists have a busy schedule ahead of them. Survey work in 2019 revealed more than 10 archaeological sites, nine of which were directly in the railroad’s development zone. This excavation is just one of those sites.