Category Archives: RUSSIA

Scythian Burial With Golden Headdress Found in Russia

Scythian Burial With Golden Headdress Found in Russia

Once again scientists have found evidence supporting the existence of Amazon warriors who have previously been considered merely mythological characters.

Archaeologists from Russia currently conducting excavations in the Voronezh region have discovered an intriguing grave that belongs to a Scythian Amazon warrior. It’s a valuable historical discovery that sheds new light on the importance of fierce ancient female warriors.

The beautiful ceremonial headpiece placed on the head of the deceased woman makes this finding even more fascinating.

Since 2010, archeologists of the Russian Academy of Science Institute of Archeology have studied the Devitsa V burial mound in the district of Ostrogozhsky, and there they have found many interesting discoveries. This time they uncovered a burial that had been looted, but not entirely.

Inside burial mound, Maiden V archaeologists unearthed two well-preserved female skeletons. On tiled beds covered with grass beds, the women were put to rest. One of them was under his left shoulder with a bronze mirror. By her left side were put two spears and a necklace made from glass beads.

General view of the burial.

The other woman, who was between 45 to 50 years at the time of her deaths, had been adorned with a beautifully preserved headpiece, consisting of stamped gold plates with floral ornaments, as well as rims with amphora-shaped pendants.

Golden ceremonial headdress before restoration.

This type of ceremonial headdress is called a calaf and archaeologists have unearthed similar headpieces, but only in the richest “royal” mounds of Scythia (Chertomlyk, Tolstaya Mogila, Deev mounds, mounds near the village of Aksyutintsy, mound No. 8 of the Pesochinsky burial ground).

“Such head dresses 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 head dress in the barrows of the forest-steppe zone and what is more interesting the head dress was first found in the burial of an Amazon”, says Valerii Guliaev, the head of Don expedition.

“Found calathos is a unique find. This is the first head dress 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 head dresses 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.

This finding suggests the woman was a Scythian warrior. The complex history of the mysterious Scythian culture is slowly being reconstructed. The Scythians flourished from about 700 to 300 B.C. but their origins are still debated. The Scythians never developed a written language or a literary tradition, making it troublesome to piece together their historical records.

Polish and Russian archaeologists have previously suggested an ancient necropolis located in the vicinity of Mangerok in the North Altai in Russia could be the ‘cradle of the Scythians’. Some think the Scythians originated from the Central Asian region of Persia, as a branch of the ancient Iranian peoples expanding north into the steppe regions from around 1000 B.C.

“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, said Valerii Guliaev.

These nomadic warriors were often in conflict with their neighbors, particularly the Thracians in the west and the Sarmatians in the east.

The Scythian invaded Eastern Europe and archaeologists are now learning more about these skilled, ancient equestrian archers.

The Scythians were, just like the Parthians skilled horse archers and some scholars suggest they were the first people in history to wear trousers.

The discovery of the female Scythian warrior strengthens the theory the Amazons were real. Ancient Greek authors wrote the Amazons were huntresses, founders of cities, rivals and lovers of adventurous men. They battled the Greek hero Heracles and fought alongside the Trojans in the final hours of Troy, but many have wondered whether the Amazons really existed.

Left: A while back archaeologists found remains of an Amazon warrior in Armenia. Right: Female warrior.

Recently, archaeologists found a grave of an Amazon warrior who lived in the kingdom of Urartu in the Highlands of Armenia. The latest discoveries of graves belonging to ancient fearless female warriors confirm the Amazons did not exist in the realm of mythology but were real beings of flesh and blood who fought alongside men.

Scientists Reawaken Cells From a 28,000-Year-Old Mammoth

Scientists Reawaken Cells From a 28,000-Year-Old Mammoth

Her name is Yuka: an ancient woolly mammoth that last lived some 28,000 years ago, before becoming mummified in the frozen permafrost wastelands of northern Siberia.

But now that icy tomb is no longer the end of Yuka’s story. The mammoth’s well-preserved remains were discovered in 2010, and scientists in Japan have now reawakened traces of biological activity in this long-extinct beast – by implanting Yuka’s cell nuclei into the egg cells of mice.

“This suggests that, despite the years that have passed, cell activity can still happen and parts of it can be recreated,” genetic engineer Kei Miyamoto from Kindai University told AFP.

In their experiment, the researchers extracted bone marrow and muscle tissue from Yuka’s remains, and inserted the least-damaged nucleus-like structures they could recover into living mouse oocytes (germ cells) in the lab.

In total, 88 of these nuclei structures were collected from 273.5 milligrams of mammoth tissue, and once some of these nuclei were injected into egg cells, a number of the modified cells demonstrated signs of cellular activity that precede cell division.

“In the reconstructed oocytes, the mammoth nuclei showed the spindle assembly, histone incorporation, and partial nuclear formation,” the authors explain in the new paper.

“However, the full activation of nuclei for cleavage was not confirmed.”

Despite the faintness of this limited biological activity, the fact anything could be observed at all is remarkable, and suggests that “cell nuclei are, at least partially, sustained even in over a 28,000 year period”, the researchers say.

Calling the accomplishment a “significant step toward bringing mammoths back from the dead”, Miyamoto acknowledges there is nonetheless a long way to go before the world can expect to see a Jurassic Park-style resurrection of this long-vanished species.

“Once we obtain cell nuclei that are kept in better condition, we can expect to advance the research to the stage of cell division,” Miyamoto told The Asahi Shimbun.

Red and green dyed proteins around a mammoth cell nucleus (upper right) in a mouse oocyte (Kindai University)

Less-damaged samples, the researchers suggest, could hypothetically enable the possibility of inducing further nuclear functions, such as DNA replication and transcription.

Another thing needed is better technology. Previous similar work in 2009 by members of the same research team didn’t get this far – which the scientists at least partially put down to “technological limitations at that time”, and the state of the frozen mammoth tissues used.

To that end, the researchers think their new research could provide a new “platform to evaluate the biological activities of nuclei in extinct animal species” – an incremental progression to perhaps one day, maybe, seeing Yuka’s kind roam again.

45,000-year-old Cave Lion Figurine Uncovered At Denisova Cave

45,000-year-old Cave Lion Figurine Uncovered At Denisova Cave

Three months ago a group of archeologists from the Novosibirsk Institute of Archeology and Ethnography performed a groundbreaking discovery in the Altai Mountains.

An upper paleolithic artist created between 40,000 and 45,000 years ago the precious little figure – of 42 mm long, 8 mm thick and 11 mm high – of a Cave Lion (Panthera Spelaea, Lat).

It was located in the 11th layer of the Denisova cave South Gallery. This is the oldest zoomorphic sculptural image ever found in Siberia and in Northern and Central Asia.

The Lowenmensch figurine or Lion-man of Hohlenenstein-Stadel found in 1939.

The exact age has not yet been verified, but Siberian archeologists have provided a cautious datation that implies that this could be the oldest animal figure in the world.

The head of the lion is missing the hind legs, groin back and belly are visible, decorated with a design of eighteen rows of notches. There are two extra rows with four notches on the lion’s right side.

 

Aged approximately 45,000 years, this might be the world’s oldest animal statuette.

‘The figurine depicts an animal with its tummy tucked in, its hind legs bent. It is either galloping, jumping or getting ready to jump. The animal is shown in a typical for big cats position for the moment when they are ready to catch a prey’, said Mikhail Shunkov, head of the Institute’s Stone Age Archeology Department.  

The mammoth ivory for the statuette was delivered from quite a distance away, Russian scientists say. It had to be carried for at least 100 kilometres from the northern footsteps of the Altai Mountains. 

Art objects made of mammoth ivory from the 24,000-year-old Mal’ta site in south-central Siberia.

After finishing the figurine, the cave artist used red ochre to paint it.  So far traces of it were found mostly around the stomach area – which even led to an idea that it could be symbolising a bleeding wound – but researcher Alexander Fedorchenko believes that most likely the whole animal was painted red. 

Remains of ocher were found only in the southern gallery of the Denisova cave.  In 2018 a ‘pencil’ and a marble stone with traces of ocher powder were discovered in the same area where later archaeologist unearthed the cave lion – making the trio the first set of such kind in the history of Siberian archaeology. 

It is still unclear if the figurine depicts a male or a female lion, as well as the purpose of the find. The archaeologists believe it is ‘too simplistic’ to assume this was a toy, but there is no proof that it could have been a cult item.

The artist’s identity is another question to be answered. The assumption is that it was a Denisovan, but as professor Shunkov added, ’45000 years ago was the time when Homo sapiens already wondered around Siberia, so it was quite likely that they could have influenced the Denisovans.’

Was this one of the first-known artistic collaboration then? 

The answer is yet to come, say archaeologists, but they are certain that by the style it was made the Denisovan Cave Lion doesn’t resemble anything previously found in the world. 

The closest in style are cave lions figurines from Vogerfelt Cave in south-west Germany, and from caves in south-west France. The Denisova Cave lies right at the border of the Altai region and the Altai Republic in the south of Western Siberia. 

The Denisovan Bracelet made of chloritolite and found in the Denisova Cave.

Locals call it Ayu Tash, which means Bear Rock.  Now world-famous, the cave first caught the attention of Soviet scientists in 1970s when they found first paleo-archaeological remains. 

It was inside the Denisova Cave in 2008 that Siberian archaeologists discovered a tiny finger bone fragment of ‘X woman’, a juvenile female believed to have lived around 41,000 years ago. 

The Denisova cave

The analysis showed she was genetically distinct from thick-browed Neanderthals and modern humans. The recent addition to the human family tree was christened Denisovan. 

Further research showed that the Denisovans were a sister group of Neanderthals. The two groups split from a common ancestor around 390,000 years ago. 

Like Neandertals, Denisovans lived until about 40,000 years ago.  The Denisova Cave is relatively small with a floor area of about 270m2.  It has three galleries – the cosy Central Chamber with high, arched ceiling and a hole that lets in natural light, the South Gallery and the East Gallery. 

The cave is nicely positioned above river Anuy, which must have given all three hominids – the Neanderthals, the Denisovans and the Homo Sapiens – some stunning sunset views over the past 120,000 years.  Now the site has a permanent research camp, a pride of Novosibirsk Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography. 

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.