Category Archives: RUSSIA

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.

Meet Sparta, the 28,000 Year Old Perfectly Preserved Lion Cub

Meet Sparta, the 28,000 Year Old Perfectly Preserved Lion Cub

Scientists say the remains of a lion cub, named Sparta and found in Siberia in 2018, are 28,000 years old and in excellent condition.

Meet Sparta, the 28,000 Year Old Perfectly Preserved Lion Cub
A cave lion cub named Sparta, which was found preserved in Siberia’s permafrost. Cave lions have been extinct for thousands of years. Photograph: Reuters

They say the lion cu, may still hold some of its mother’s milk inside it.

The cub was a female cave lion that researchers named Sparta. Her remains were discovered in the permanently frozen ground at the Semyuelyakh River in Russia’s Yakutia area.

The findings were part of a study published in the journal Quaternary.

According to the study, the cubs were found fifteen meters away from each other. However, scientists claim many generations separated them. The research showed that Boris lived around 43,448 years ago.

Boris, a male cave lion cub, lived and died about 15,000 years before Sparta. Photograph: Reuters

Cave lions died out thousands of years ago. The two cubs, aged one to two months old, were found by mammoth tusk collectors. Mammoths were large, hairy prehistoric elephants with very long tusks.

“To my knowledge, this is the best-preserved frozen specimen from the last Ice Age ever found,” study author Love Dalén, an evolutionary geneticist at Stockholm University’s Centre for Palaeogenetics, tells NBC News. “Sparta is in near-perfect condition.”

Cave lions coexisted with early humans for thousands of years, according to the study. For example, the Chauvet Cave in France depicts cave lions drawn on walls. The early cave paintings are estimated to be more than 30,000 years old.

The coloration of cub fur appears different than that of mature cave lions, requiring further study to determine if aging causes changes. Researchers also noted similarities in the fur between the big cats and lions of the Ice Age that still roam the savannas of Africa.

The species is thought to have smaller manes than African lions while adapting to colder climates.

Other lion cubs found in Siberia

Two other lion cubs have also been found in Siberia’s Yakutia area in recent years.

Valery Plotnikov is one of the study’s writers. He told Reuters that Sparta was so well-preserved that her fur, organs, and skeleton were still intact.

“The find itself is unique; there was not any other such find in Yakutia,” he said.

Plotnikov added that the scientists hope to find evidence of mother’s milk inside Sparta in order to learn about the diet of cave lions.

There have been numerous other similar discoveries in Russia’s larger Siberian area in recent years.

Climate change is warming the Arctic faster than the rest of the world. That increase in temperature has melted the ground in some areas that were permanently frozen.

A 42,000-Year-Old Foal Entombed in Ice Still Had Liquid Blood in Its Veins

A 42,000-Year-Old Foal Entombed in Ice Still Had Liquid Blood in Its Veins

A 42,000-Year-Old Foal Entombed in Ice Still Had Liquid Blood in Its Veins
Over the past month, scientists have made more than 20 unsuccessful attempts to extract viable cells from the foal’s tissue Semyon Grigoryev/North-Eastern Federal University

Last August, a group of mammoth tusk hunters unearthed the nearly intact remains of a 42,000-year-old foal during an expedition to Siberia’s Batagaika crater.

Preserved by the region’s permafrost, or permanently frozen ground, the young horse showed no signs of external damage, instead retaining its skin, tail, and hooves, as well as the hair on its legs, head, and other body parts.

Now, the Siberian Times reports, researchers from Russia’s North-Eastern Federal University and the South Korean Sooam Biotech Research Foundation have extracted liquid blood and urine from the specimen, paving the way for further analysis aimed at cloning the long-dead horse and resurrecting the extinct Lenskaya lineage to which it belongs.

To clone the animal, scientists would need to extract viable cells from the blood samples and grow them in the lab. This task is easier said than done: Over the past month, the team has made more than 20 attempts to grow cells out of the foal’s tissue, but all have failed, according to a separate Siberian Times article. Still, lead Russian researcher Lena Grigoryeva says, those involved remain “positive about the outcome.”

The fact that the horse still has hair makes it one of the most well-preserved Ice Age animals ever found, Grigoryev tells CNN’s Gianluca Mezzofiore, adding, “Now we can say what color was the wool of the extinct horses of the Pleistocene era.”

In life, the foal boasted a bay-colored body and a black tail and mane. Aged just one to two weeks old at the time of his death, the young Lenskaya, or Lena horse, met the same untimely demise as many similarly intact animals trapped in permafrost for millennia.

The scientists extracted liquid blood samples from the 42,000-year-old animal’s heart vessels Semyon Grigoryev/North-Eastern Federal University

The scientists extracted liquid blood samples from the 42,000-year-old animal’s heart vessels Semyon Grigoryev/North-Eastern Federal University

The foal likely drowned in a “natural trap” of sorts—namely, mud that later froze into permafrost, Semyon Grigoryev of Yakutia’s Mammoth Museum told Russian news agency TASS, as reported by the Siberian Times.

“A lot of mud and silt which the foal gulped during the last seconds of [the foal’s] life were found inside its gastrointestinal tract,” Grigoryev says.

This is only the second time researchers have extracted liquid blood from the remains of prehistoric creatures.

In 2013, a group of Russian scientists accomplished the same feat using the body of a 15,000-year-old female woolly mammoth discovered by Grigoryev and his colleagues 2013, as George Dvorsky reports for Gizmodo. (It’s worth noting that the team studying the foal has also expressed hopes of cloning a woolly mammoth.) Significantly, the foal’s blood is a staggering 27,000 years older than this previous sample.

The NEFU and South Korean scientists behind the new research are so confident of their success that they have already begun searching for a surrogate mare to carry the cloned Lena horse and, in the words of the Siberian Times, fulfill “the historic role of giving birth to the comeback species.” It’s worth noting, however, that any acclaim is premature and, as Dvorsky writes, indicative of the “typical unbridled enthusiasm” seen in the Russian news outlet’s reports.

Speaking with CNN’s Mezzofiore, Grigoryev himself expressed doubts about the researcher’s chances, explaining, “I think that even the unique preservation [of] blood is absolutely hopeless for cloning purposes since the main blood cells … do not have nuclei with DNA.”

He continued, “We [are] trying to find intact cells in muscle tissue and internal organs that are also very well-preserved.”

What the Siberian Times fails to address are the manifold “ethical and technological” questions raised by reviving long-gone species. Among other concerns, according to Dvorsky, scientists have cited the clone’s diminished quality of life, issues of genetic diversity and inbreeding, and the absence of an adequate Ice Age habitat.

It remains to be seen whether the Russian-South Korean team can actually deliver on its ambitious goal. Still, if the purported July 2018 resurrection of two similarly aged 40,000-year-old roundworms “defrosted” after millennia in the Arctic permafrost is any indication, the revival of ancient animals is becoming an increasingly realistic possibility.

The newly discovered fossils are 200,000 years old in Denisova Cave

The newly discovered fossils are 200,000 years old in Denisova Cave

The newly discovered fossils are 200,000 years old in Denisova Cave

Scientists have discovered the earliest remains of a human lineage known as the Denisovans. Researchers have identified stone artifacts connected to these ancient ancestors of contemporary humans using these 200,000-year-old bones for the first time, according to a new study.

The DNA study of a tooth and a little finger bone discovered in a cave named Denisova in Siberia’s Altai highlands provided our first tantalizing sight of the Denisovans in 2010.

The fossil record of these mysterious individuals is extremely limited, with only four bits of bone and teeth and a jawbone discovered in Tibet.

Their DNA, however, has indicated that they had a common ancestor with the Neanderthals and our species, Homo sapiens, some 765,000 years ago.

After this ancestor population split, our branch of the human family tree remained in Africa, while the Neanderthal/Denisovan branch moved into Eurasia.

By 430,000 years ago, the Eurasian branch had split, giving rise to the Neanderthals in western Eurasia and the Denisovans in the east. It’s unclear why the Denisovans and Neanderthals split, but a recent theory argues that when the Arctic ice sheet moved southwards to the Black Sea, cutting Europe off from Asia, it split the early humans into the east and west groups indicated above.

We now know that Denisovans are bred with modern humans in at least two places: in East Asia and further south-east in Indonesia or Australasia.

Denisovan cave.

Three more Denisovan fossils have been unearthed in Denisova Cave by experts. Scientists believe they are roughly 200,000 years old, making them the oldest Denisovans yet discovered. Previously, the oldest known Denisovan specimens ranged in age from 122,000 to 194,000 years.

In the new study, researchers analyzed 3,800 bone fragments from Denisova Cave. They searched for proteins they knew were Denisovan based on previous DNA research.

The experts discovered five human bones among the remains. Four of them had enough DNA to be identified: one was Neanderthal, and the other three were Denisovan. Two of these fossils may have come from the same person or from related people, based on genetic similarities.

“We were extremely excited to identify three new Denisovan bones amongst the oldest layers of Denisova Cave,” study author Katerina Douka, an archaeological scientist at the University of Vienna in Austria, told Live Science. “We specifically targeted these layers where no other human fossils were found before, and our strategy worked.”

One of the Denisovan bones was found in Denisova Cave in Siberia.

The age of these Denisovan fossils was calculated by the researchers based on the stratum of soil in which they were discovered. This stratum also contains a plethora of stone objects and animal bones, which might provide important archaeological insights about Denisovan life and behavior. Previously, Denisovan fossils were only discovered in levels devoid of such archaeological material, or in layers that may have also held Neanderthal material.

These newly discovered Denisovans lived in a time when, according to a prior study, the temperature was warm and similar to today’s, and they lived in a habitat that featured broad-leaved woods and open grassland. The Denisovans may have eaten deer, gazelles, horses, bison, and woolly rhinoceroses, according to butchered and burned animal remains discovered in the cave.

“This is the first time we can be sure that Denisovans were the makers of the archaeological remains we found associated with their bone fragments,” Katerina Douka said.

The stone artifacts discovered in the same strata as these Denisovan fossils are largely scraping implements that may be employed to deal with animal skins. The raw materials for these things most likely originated from river silt right outside the cave’s entrance, and the river most likely aided the Denisovans in their hunting efforts, according to the experts.

There are no direct analogs to the stone tools associated with these new fossils in North or Central Asia. They do, however, bore some similarities to artifacts discovered in Israel between 250,000 and 400,000 years ago – a time period associated with key advances in human technology, such as the widespread use of fire, according to the researchers.

The researchers published their findings online in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

A secret stash of tsar’s gold worth billions was found in an old rail tunnel near Lake Baikal

A secret stash of tsar’s gold worth billions was found in an old rail tunnel near Lake Baikal

Royal discovery made after 99-year-old code is broken by Siberian mathematics genius.

A formal statement is due around noon in Moscow on Saturday when the first pictures of the gold will be revealed to the world’s media.

The former tunnel and at an undisclosed location in the Irkutsk region is today under the protection of the Russian national guard after the sensational discovery exactly a century after Tsar Nicholas II was deposed. 

Rail carriages packed with gold bullion bearing the Romanov insignia along with ‘other treasures’ – in the possession of anti-Bolshevik forces as they retreated from the Red Army after the Russian Revolution – were hidden in 1918, according to sources quoted by multiple Russian news agencies. 

At least one ‘crown once worn by the last Russian emperor’ is in the collection, it was reported early today. 

Unlike last year’s claim of Nazi gold hidden in Poland, today’s report is ‘genuine and verified by competent state organs’ under direct Kremlin orders, said a source close to the discovery.

A formal statement is due around noon in Moscow on Saturday when the first pictures of the gold will be revealed to the world’s media.

The former tunnel and at undisclosed location in Irkustk region is under the protection of the Russian national guard.

The first consignments will be moved to the Russian Central Bank within hours. The treasure has been claimed already by the Russian state in a closed-door court case beginning at 00.01 on Saturday in Irkutsk under tight security.

The stash ‘more than compensates for the cost of sanctions imposed by Western governments’, said an informed insider early today.

The location of the gold was discovered after a secret code giving the coordinates of the location in the Irkutsk region – originally found deep in the Stalin era – was cracked by a 21-year-old mathematics protege who studies in Tomsk.

The document was seized from a Kolchak aide in 1919 and has lain for years in a Russian national archive in Moscow. 

Russia’s gold pictured in vaults of Kazan State Bank in 1918.

Over the decades, experts have failed to understand the bizarre instructions written in Russian, French, and English. 

‘It was simple once I understood the importance of the numbers 1 and 4 and their complex interrelationship,’ said the student in an interview with TASS news agency.  

The mathematics genius, who has not been named because he is also a ‘hacking maestro’ suspected by the FBI of involvement in penetrating Hillary Clinton’s emails, took less than one hour to crack the decades-old formula designed to inform royalists the location of the treasure.

Since the defeat of Admiral Alexander Kolchak, leader of the White Russian forces, there has been speculation about the tsar’s gold, and where it was stashed. 

In the months leading up to July 1918, when abdicated ruler Nicholas II and his family were shot on Lenin’s orders, it is estimated that 73% of the world’s largest gold reserves were held in Kazan, a city on the Volga River, before most was shifted further east into Siberia.

It had been moved here for security reasons during the First World War.

Alexander Kolchak.

Grainy pictures from the vaults of a Kazan bank highlight that gold and other precious metals of untold value were held here. It is known that huge stocks of gold were removed to Omsk in Siberia by train on 13 October 1918.

One month later Kolchak was proclaimed Supreme Ruler of the country and Omsk was briefly the capital city of anti-Bolshevik Russia. 

One theory is that as the gold was transported east from Omsk and some of the suspected 1,600 tons of royal bullion sank into Lake Baikal near Cape Polovinny after a train accident. 

Mini-submarines scored Lake Baikal in 2010 for a cargo of gold that was reported to have fallen from a derailed train into the lake. 

Separate claims suggested gold was carried towards Imperial China by troops loyal to Kolchak across frozen Baikal in the winter of 1919-20. 

Other claims suggested gold was buried in the Krasnoyarsk region. 

Mini-submarines scored Lake Baikal in 2010 for a cargo of gold that was reported to have fallen from a derailed train into the lake.

Mini-submarines scored Lake Baikal in 2010 for a cargo of gold that was reported to have fallen from a derailed train into the lake. Pictures: Channel 1 TV, The Siberian Times 

In 1928, a New York court was told that the gold was elsewhere – buried in woods near Kazan.

There have been claims the value of tsarist gold could be as much as $80 billion.

Provisional estimates from the site in the Irkutsk region suggest the stash is worth a little less than $30 billion.

In Medieval burial ground, a rare embroidered Deisis depicting Jesus Christ was discovered

In Medieval burial ground, a rare embroidered Deisis depicting Jesus Christ was discovered

In Medieval burial ground, a rare embroidered Deisis depicting Jesus Christ was discovered

Russian archaeologists have uncovered a rare embroidered Deisis depicting Jesus Christ in a medieval burial ground.

46 graves have been dug up during excavations; one of them contained a woman who was buried with an embroidered Deisis depicting Jesus Christ and John the Baptist and was between the ages of 16 and 25.

The discovery was made during the construction of the Moscow-Kazan highway, where archaeologists found an 8.6-acre medieval settlement and an associated Christian cemetery.

The iconography of Jesus Christ known as Deesis, which can be translated from Greek as “prayer” or “intercession,” is one of the most potent and prevalent images in Orthodox religious art.

The composition of the Deisis unites the three most important figures of Christianity. A tripartite icon of the Eastern Orthodox Church showing Christ usually enthroned between the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist.

Photo: Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences

The fabric is 12.1 cm long by 5.5 cm wide and is composed of two parts joined by a vertical seam made of a woven gold ribbon with a braided pattern.

The fabric’s lining did not survive, but a microscopic examination revealed birch bark remnants and needle punctures along the lower and upper edges.

In the center of the fabric is a frontal image of Jesus Christ making a blessing gesture, and to the right of him is John the Baptist praying. A second figure, probably Mary, was once on the left, but it has since disappeared, according to the inspection.

The archaeologists believe the embroidered fabric was once a dark silk samite headdress.

Similar examples include the embroidered crosses and faces of saints discovered in the Karoshsky burial ground in the Yaroslavl region, as well as the Ivorovsky necropolis near Staritsa that features an image of Michael the Archangel wielding a spear.

Scientists dissect 3,500-year-old bear discovered in Siberian permafrost

Scientists dissect 3,500-year-old bear discovered in Siberian permafrost

A brown bear that lay almost perfectly preserved in the frozen wilds of eastern Siberia for 3,500 years has undergone a necropsy by a team of scientists after it was discovered by reindeer herders on a desolate island in the Arctic.

Scientists conduct an autopsy of a fossil brown bear with the geological age of 3,460 years, found in the permafrost of northern Yakutia by reindeer herders in 2020, in Yakutsk, Russia February 21, 2023.

“This find is absolutely unique: the complete carcass of an ancient brown bear,” said Maxim Cheprasov, laboratory chief at the Lazarev Mammoth Museum Laboratory at the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk, eastern Siberia.

The female bear was found by reindeer herders in 2020 jutting out of the permafrost on Bolshoy Lyakhovsky Island, part of the New Siberian archipelago around 4,600 km east of Moscow.

Because it was found just east of the Bolshoy Etherican River, it has been named the Etherican brown bear.

The extreme temperatures helped preserve the bear’s soft tissue for 3,460 years, as well as remains of its final repasts – bird feathers and plants. The bear is described as being 1.55 metres (5.09 ft) tall and weighing nearly 78 kg (12 stone).

“For the first time, a carcass with soft tissues has fallen into the hands of scientists, giving us the opportunity to study the internal organs and examine the brain,” said Cheprasov.

The scientific team in Siberia cut through the bear’s tough hide, allowing scientists to examine its brain, internal organs and carry out a host of cellular, microbiological, virological and genetic studies.

The pink tissue and yellow fat of the bear was clearly visible as the team dissected the ancient beast.

They also sawed through its skull, using a vacuum cleaner to suck up the skull bone dust, before extracting its brain.

“Genetic analysis has shown that the bear does not differ in mitochondrial DNA from the modern bear from the north-east of Russia – Yakutia and Chukotka,” Cheprasov said.

He said the bear was probably aged about 2-3 years. It died from an injury to its spinal column.

It is, though, unclear how the bear came to be on the island, which is now divided from the mainland by a 50 km (31 mile) strait. It may have crossed over ice, it might have swum over, or the island might still have been part of the mainland.

The Lyakhovsky islands contain some of the richest palaeontological treasures in the world, attracting both scientists and ivory traders hunting for woolly mammoths.