Category Archives: RUSSIA

Christian Cross Dashes Mummification Woman Hopes to Find Russian Fortresses

Mummified Woman with Christian Cross Dashes Hopes of Finding Russian Fortress

A woman with traditional Yakut clothes with a copper cross on her chest was found to be an unusually well preserved mummified body in summer 2019.

Lena River sandbank where the mummified woman was found.

The research team that worked on the discovery of the first Russian fortress constructed at Yakutia was surprised to see the level of preservation, considering that she had been buried in the sand rather than permafrost soil.

The copper cross on her chest was also a striking feature. We can assume that the woman was Christian.

There have been suggestions that graves on the site where the mummified woman was found – some 70km north of Yakutsk, the regional capital – were of an era that would allow them to be a burial site at the first Russian settlement in Yakutia.

It was founded in 1632 by Cossack Petr Beketov, one of Siberia’s most famous explorers, under the name Lensky Ostrog. Indeed earlier radiocarbon dating of the graves indicated that burials were from the years 1440 to 1670.

The copper cross found on the mummified woman.

Yet there has been a concern that these dates were not reliable, and now the discovery of the well-preserved Christian woman’s grave tends to suggest the burials here are later, from the mid-19th century. 

The woman – while Christian – was almost certainly ethnic Yakut and not Russian.

Mummified Woman with Christian Cross Dashes Hopes of Finding Russian Fortress
The body of the mummified woman.

The head of this year’s emergency excavation at the site Elena Solovyova, researcher at Arctic Research Centre of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), told The Siberian Times: ‘The woman buried in a wooden coffin was very well-preserved, including her soft tissues in the process of natural mummification.

‘I can’t quite understand yet why the body got mummified since sand is rather aggressive to all organic material; possibly because the woman was buried in winter.

‘Clothes she wore on the lower part of her body, including fur-lined shorts (a piece of traditional female underwear at the time in Yakutia) and long fur-lined leather stockings up to her hips have also preserved.’   

On these stockings, the woman had ‘torbasa’, traditional Yakut soft leather boots lined up with fur. Clothes on top of the woman’s body didn’t preserve. The only item she took with her to the afterlife was a copper cross on her chest. 

Excavations of the cemetery made by the ‘Russky Sever’ Foundation in 2014.

‘After we cleaned this cross, we noticed that it didn’t quite look traditional,’ said Elena Solovyova. 

‘We analyzed the inscriptions and came to the conclusion that they were made by a local Yakutian master because there were some ‘mistakes’ in the lettering.’

Elena Solovyova said: ‘We did not carry the full morphological research of this woman, even though there was a plan to take the skulls of people buried on this cemetery, to understand their anthropological type. 

‘I could not do this with ethical reasons. The woman was mummified, she wasn’t just scattered bones, and I could not make myself to separate her head from the body.

‘I’m certain that she was Yakut. She was quite short, about 150 centimeters, the aged woman laid to rest in a set of traditional Yakut clothes.’

Drawing of the Lensky ostrog

The find helped to understand that this burial could not be related to the first Russian settlement in Yakutia, as the researchers initially thought. 

As Elena explained, the more recent graveyard which they studied this summer could have been built at the place of a much older one, but the team hasn’t found any proof of it yet. 

The search goes on for this fortress which is a key site in the Russian history of Siberia. It existed only two years before being flooded when a decision was made to move to the site of Yakutsk. 

It was from Lensky Ostrog that in 1633 Tobolsk Cossack Ivan Rebrov with a detachment of Yenisei Cossacks led by Ilya Perfilyev, went down the Lena River and reached the shores of the Arctic Ocean. This was also the first Russian sea voyage from the mouth of the river Lena. 

17th-century warships linked to Sweden’s historic Vasa found

17th-century warships linked to Sweden’s historic Vasa found

Two wrecks suspected to be warships of the 17th Century were discovered by Swedish maritime archaeologists and at least one is likely the sister ship of the iconic Swedish vessel “Vasa”, which sank on its maiden voyage, the Swedish Museum of Wrecks said Friday.

“I saw the wall 5-6 meters high as I came down as the first divers … then I came up and there was a massive warship,” Jim Hansson, diver, and maritime archeologist told AFP adding, “it was a thrilling feeling.”

Both the wrecks are found outside the city of Vaxholm in the Swedish archipelago, a strait leading into Stockholm.

Pictures released by the Swedish National Maritime and Transport Museums show parts of the wrecks found in the waters outside Stockholm archipelago

At least one of the ships is believed to be the sister ship Sweden’s most famous warship the “Vasa,” a 69-meter ship carrying 64 cannons, which sank on its maiden voyage in 1628.

Named after one of Sweden’s kings, it was originally meant to serve as a symbol of Sweden’s military might but instead capsized after sailing just over 1,000 meters.

Vasa was salvaged in 1961 and is currently on display at the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, one of Sweden’s most popular tourist spots.

Vasa was salvaged in 1961 and sits in an eponymous Stockholm museum.

Three other ships were however ordered from the same shipwright: Applet (the Apple), Kronan (the Crown) and Scepter, and unlike their predecessor, they all served in the Swedish navy and participated in naval battles.

“We think that some of them were sunk in the area,” Patrik Hoglund, another maritime archeologist, and diver at the newly established Museum of Wrecks.

The ships are believed to have been sunk on purpose after they were decommissioned, serving as underwater spike strips for enemy ships.

The divers took wood samples of the ships which will be sent to a laboratory for dating.

“Then we can even see where the timber has been cut down and then we can go back and look in the archives and I think we have good chances to tell exactly which ship this is,” Hansson said.

Despite being centuries old, the wrecks — just like the Vasa — are in fairly good condition, thanks to the brackish waters of the Baltic Sea.

“We don’t have saltwater and some organisms that live in other waters don’t exist in the Baltic so it is very well preserved generally in our waters,” Hoglund said.

As the wrecks are better preserved in the sea, there are currently no plans to salvage them.

Roman made jewelry found on the body of a 2000-year-old barbarian woman from the Caucasus

Roman made jewellery found on the body of a 2000-year-old barbarian woman from the Caucasus

In the fine jewellery of the Roman Empire were the bones of an ancient barbarian woman who was almost 2,000 years old.

Located in the Northern Caucasus it is believed to have been a “high-ranking” within her family – perhaps a prominent warrior’s spouse, sister or mother, or chieftain.

She has found in a tomb of Kabardino-Balkaria’s mountains in Russia.have surprised archaeologists, in part due to the fact the jewellery was of Roman origin.

The ancient woman is probably from the Alans warrior people who made incursions into the Caucasus in the first and second centuries AD. Archaeologists say she was buried alongside a warrior and two other men

The archaeologist Anna Kadieva, head of an expedition at Zyukovo-2 burial site said that she had two rings on her fingers made with the use of very complicated technology.

‘Each of them is cast from the transparent white glass with golden fibres from the same material, with a dark glass installation in the middle.’

Ms Kadieva said the fact the jewellery was Roman-made is ‘beyond any doubt’.

She added: ‘It is quite expensive for the time, and priceless for the barbarian world because there was no glass production in the North Caucasus back then.’

The beads on her shoes were made of glass but also contained carnelian, an orange coloured mineral that is part of the Quartz family.

The woman was also discovered wearing a bright violet amethyst medallion as seen in this picture. The team say this would have been ‘priceless’ for the region as they had no glass blowing technology at the time

She was also discovered wearing a bright violet amethyst medallion.

‘This is a high-class gem worthy of its gold casing,’ said the archaeologist from the State Historical Museum of Russia.

The woman is probably from the Alans warrior people who made incursions into the Caucasus in the first and second centuries AD, the team speculated.

The warrior woman was found buried at the bottom of a deep tomb

‘We came to the conclusion that wealthy warriors from North Caucasus presented expensive jewellery to their loved ones,’ Ms Kadieva said.

‘The woman most likely was a close relative of the warriors – mother, wife, or sister – because the catacomb is a family burial.’

She was interred alongside a warrior and two other males.

‘It is not clear how they died, but given the integrity of the skeletons, the time between their deaths was short,’ she said. 

Further studies are being made into the finds.

Américas – Skeleton mystery solved: One-legged remains of Napoleon’s favorite general identified

Américas – Skeleton mystery solved: One-legged remains of Napoleon’s favorite general identified

DNA tests on a one-legged skeleton found under a dance floor in Russia have officially confirmed the identification of one of Napoleon’s favorite generals

In Smolensk, Russia, a team of French and Russic archeologists discovered the remains of General Charles-Étienne Gudin, one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s most admired military commanders.

The one-legged military man was killed by a cannonball when he was 44 on Aug. 22, 1812, according to LiveScience — and his remains were left buried until now.

Found on July 6 beneath the foundations of a dancefloor, the skeleton was indeed missing a left leg and also showed evidence of injury on the right leg — two essential details that suggest that these remains, in fact, belong to Gudin.

The body of Charles-Étienne Gudin was found on July 6 under the foundation of a dance floor in Smolensk, Russia. Gudin had been buried for more than 200 years.

Records from 1812 note that the man had his leg amputated below the knee after sustaining grievous harm during the Russian invasion. Upon his death, Napoleon ordered Gudin’s name to be inscribed on the Arc de Triomphe while his bust was put in the Palace of Versailles, and a Parisian street was named after him.

Meanwhile, his heart was removed and placed in a chapel in Paris’ Père Lachaise Cemetery as a token of honor.

A depiction of Charles-Étienne Gudin.

“It’s a historic moment not only for me but for our two countries,” said French historian and archaeologists Pierre Malinovsky, who helped find Gudin’s remains.

“Napoleon was one of the last people to see him alive, which is very important, and he’s the first general from the Napoleonic period that we have found.”

Bonaparte and Gudin were childhood friends and attended the Military School in Brienne together. Gudin’s death had a profound impact on his old friend. Napoleon reportedly cried when he heard the news and immediately ordered that the man receive high honors.

In July, the research team eagerly planned on testing the skeleton for DNA to officially lay all doubt about its identification to rest, Reuters reported.

“It’s possible that we’ll have to identify the remains with the aid of a DNA test which could take from several months to a year,” the Russian military-historical society explained. “The general’s descendants are following the news.”

A close-up of the one-legged skeleton now confirmed to belong to General Charles-Étienne Gudin.

According to CNN, Malinovsky has since eradicated any uncertainty. In November 2019, he revealed that he transported part of the skeleton’s femur and several teeth from Moscow to Marseille shortly after the excavation to conduct a detailed analysis.

The overnight trip concluded with a genetic comparison between the remains and that of the deceased general’s mother, brother, and son.

The resourceful scientist had simply packed the bone and teeth in his luggage to do so. The results were satisfactory, to say the least.

“A professor in Marseille carried out extensive testing and the DNA matches 100 percent,” he said. “It was worth the trouble.”

Malinovski said Gudin will likely be buried at Les Invalides. The historic compound of military monuments and museums will see the one-legged general in good company — as it also holds the body of Napoleon, himself.

Scientists discover unique carcass of extinct ‘pygmy’ woolly mammoth on island off Siberian coast

Frozen pygmy woolly mammoth carcass unearthed in Siberia could be proof of a new species of ice age beast

Scientists have discovered relics of Mammuthus exilis, or what they’re calling a “Golden mammoth”, named after the color of its seemingly strawberry blonde colored hair.

The discovery of the carcass proves the existence of a miniature or “dwarf” species of a woolly mammoth — something that’s never been seen by scientists before.

The remains of this “Golden mammoth” was about two meters (or about six and a half feet) in height, which is extremely small when compared to a typical woolly mammoth that was on average three meters (or around ten feet) tall.

The mammoth was found on Kotelny island in the Siberian region of Russia. Scientists have heard reports of smaller mammoths being found in this particular area before, but the discovery of this carcass solidified their existence.

Dr. Albert Protopopov of the Yakutin Academy of Sciences said that scientists “have had reports about small mammoths found in that particular area, both grown-ups and babies. But we had never come across a carcass. This is our first chance to study it.”

Dr. Protopopov working on Kotelny Island.
It has been preserved in permafrost for between 22,000 and 50,000 years. Picture: Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Sakha

Scientists have more to figure out, namely whether the discovery of the animal is a one-off or if mini woolly mammoths were specific to the region where the carcass was found.

The bones of what scientists believe were pygmy-sized woolly mammoths have been discovered in the Arctic region of Russia, but Dr. Protopopov believes that this “Golden mammoth” is an entirely new species of pygmy mammoth.

He believes that this species roamed the earth earlier and was not a rare breed, but an evolutionary adaptation specific to the location where it was found.

Dr. Protopopov was joined by a team of “paleontologists, archeologists, zoologists, botanists, entomologists and permafrost experts” on this expedition to Kotelny Island where the “golden mammoth” was discovered.

He told The Siberian Times, “I believe that this mammoth is related to the period of the heyday of the species, which was supposed to be in the Karginsky interglacial time (between 50,000 and 22,000 years ago).

Our theory is that in this period the mammoths significantly rose in numbers –  and this led to the biggest diversity of their forms. So we want to check this theory.”

Where the new species of the woolly mammoth was discovered makes this find all the more interesting. Koletny island, as well as much of the Russian Arctic region of Siberia, is completely frozen in the winter — including the sea.

An Arctic expedition was undertaken by Russia’s Defence Ministry on Kotelny Island.

The mammoth was found in what Dr. Protopopov describes as “an inaccessible place, and is almost completely buried in the ground in a tidal area,” making this discovery particularly remarkable.

Europe has been experiencing one of the hottest summer’s of record, and the extreme temperatures could have enabled the ice to melt enough to make this discovery possible.

It’s a find that has scientists extremely excited, and it’s quite possible that they have the unusually hot summer season to thank for that.

Excavation of the “Golden Mammoth” has been set to start in the summer of 2019, and it’s likely that scientists will be able to find more animals that have been as well preserved underneath the ice as this latest discovery.