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Archaeologists have unearthed the skeletal remains of ancient warriors with spears and daggers during the construction of the Corridor 10 highway project in the region of Pirot in south-east Serbia. They have been dated as 2,500 years-old.
Prior to the Roman conquest of Serbia in the 1 st century BC, the region of Pirot was ruled by Thracians, a group of Indo-Europeans tribes which were first mentioned in the Greek Iliad as allies of the Trojans in the war against the Greeks.
''We have found three skeletal remains of warriors with spears, daggers and bronze ornaments, and decorations of various kinds,'' said Mirjana Blagojevic, archaeologist from Serbia's institute for the protection of cultural patrimony.
The significance of the finding lies in the fact that it is the first time archaeologists have found an entire corpse as normally remains were buried after cremation.
Two years ago, archaeologists uncovered an ancient suburb of Pirot called Suburbium and the remains of the legendary 2,000-year-old Roman road, Via Militaris. The skeletons were discovered in this district, close to what is now the border of modern day Bulgaria.
Amazing mummy discovery: High priest's 2,500-year-old remains uncovered
Archaeologists uncovered the 2,500-year-old remains of a powerful ancient Egyptian high priest in dramatic fashion on Sunday.
The opening of the priest’s stone sarcophagus was broadcast by the Discovery Channel during “Expedition Unknown: Egypt Live,” a two-hour live event. Archaeologists discovered what they describe as an “exquisitely preserved” mummy inside the sealed sarcophagus, covered in gold banding.
The incredible find was made at Al-Ghorifa, a remote site about 165 miles south of Cairo. Located within the inner chambers of the burial site, experts accessed the sarcophagus via a network of ancient tunnels.
Two other mummies were found at the site, one of which appears to be a female, discovered inside a “Family Tomb” alongside objects such as an ancient board game, the remains of a family dog and four jars containing the mummy’s organs.
Archaeologists opened a sealed stone sarcophagus to discover the high priest's mummified remains. (Discovery Channel)
In a statement, Discovery Channel explained that the third mummy discovered was not a high priest or well preserved. Nonetheless, objects in the tomb and inscriptions on the sarcophagus indicate that he was a singer in the temple of Thoth, an ancient Egyptian god.
Archaeologists also discovered an incredible 2,500-year-old wax head, which is thought to be a cast of “Irt Hrw,” one of the high priests.
The necropolis has been largely shrouded in mystery, although another high priest’s sarcophagus was discovered nearby in 1927. The mummy, however, was missing from the tomb.
Archaeologists also discovered a 2,500-year-old wax head, which is thought to be a cast of High Priest “Irt Hrw." (Discovery Channel)
Sunday’s live event kicks off the new season of “Expedition Unknown,” which premieres April 10 on Discovery Channel.
Egypt continues to reveal fresh details of its rich history. The secrets of a mysterious “Tomb of the Warriors,” for example, were recently revealed in a PBS documentary.
Archaeologists have also discovered the wreck of an extremely rare vessel that traveled the Nile around 2,500 years ago, solving an ancient puzzle.
The opening of the high-priest's sarcophagus was broadcast live by Discovery Channel. (Discovery Channel)
In another project, archaeologists recently found a large ram-headed sphinx that is linked to King Tutankhamun’s grandfather. In other projects, a teenage girl’s skeleton was discovered in a mysterious grave near the Meidum pyramid, south of Cairo.
Last month, experts announced the discovery of dozens of mummies in ancient desert burial chambers. Archaeologists also recently explained the strange brown spots on some of the paintings in King Tutankhamun’s tomb.
In January, archaeologists announced the discovery of ancient tombs in the Nile Delta north of Cairo. In a separate project, two ancient tombs dating back to the Roman period were uncovered in Egypt’s Western Desert.
In November 2018, researchers confirmed the discovery of eight limestone sarcophagi containing mummies at a site 25 miles south of Cairo. Last year, researchers also uncovered a "massive" building that was once part of Egypt’s ancient capital city.
In another project, archaeologists discovered a stunning sphinx statue at an ancient temple in southern Egypt.
Last summer, experts unlocked the secrets of a mysterious ancient ‘cursed’ black granite sarcophagus. The massive coffin, which was excavated in the city of Alexandria, was found to contain three skeletons and gold sheets with the remains.
Archaeologists also found the oldest solid cheese in the tomb of Ptahmes, mayor of the ancient city of Memphis.
A mummy buried in southern Egypt more than 5,000 years ago has also revealed its grisly secrets, shedding new light on prehistoric embalming practices.
Fox News’ Chris Ciaccia and The Associated Press contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers
Siberian Princess reveals her 2,500 year old tattoos
The ancient mummy of a mysterious young woman, known as the Ukok Princess, is finally returning home to the Altai Republic this month.
She is to be kept in a special mausoleum at the Republican National Museum in capital Gorno-Altaisk, where eventually she will be displayed in a glass sarcophagus to tourists.
For the past 19 years, since her discovery, she was kept mainly at a scientific institute in Novosibirsk, apart from a period in Moscow when her remains were treated by the same scientists who preserve the body of Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin.
To mark the move 'home', The Siberian Times has obtained intricate drawings of her remarkable tattoos, and those of two men, possibly warriors, buried near her on the remote Ukok Plateau, now a UNESCO world cultural and natural heritage site, some 2,500 metres up in the Altai Mountains in a border region close to frontiers of Russia with Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan.
They are all believed to be Pazyryk people - a nomadic people described in the 5th century BC by the Greek historian Herodotus - and the colourful body artwork is seen as the best preserved and most elaborate ancient tattoos anywhere in the world.
To many observers, it is startling how similar they are to modern-day tattoos.
The remains of the immaculately dressed 'princess', aged around 25 and preserved for several millennia in the Siberian permafrost, a natural freezer, were discovered in 1993 by Novosibirsk scientist Natalia Polosmak during an archeological expedition.
Buried around her were six horses, saddled and bridled, her spiritual escorts to the next world, and a symbol of her evident status, perhaps more likely a revered folk tale narrator, a healer or a holy woman than an ice princess.
There, too, was a meal of sheep and horse meat and ornaments made from felt, wood, bronze and gold. And a small container of cannabis, say some accounts, along with a stone plate on which were the burned seeds of coriander.
'Compared to all tattoos found by archeologists around the world, those on the mummies of the Pazyryk people are the most complicated, and the most beautiful,' said Dr Polosmak. More ancient tattoos have been found, like the Ice Man found in the Alps - but he only had lines, not the perfect and highly artistic images one can see on the bodies of the Pazyryks.
'It is a phenomenal level of tattoo art. Incredible.'
While the tattoos, preserved in the permafrost, have been known about since the remains were dug up, until now few have seen the intricate reconstructions that we reveal here.
'Tattoos were used as a mean of personal identification - like a passport now, if you like. The Pazyryks also believed the tattoos would be helpful in another life, making it easy for the people of the same family and culture to find each other after death,' added Dr Polosmak. 'Pazyryks repeated the same images of animals in other types of art, which is considered to be like a language of animal images, which represented their thoughts.
'The same can be said about the tattoos - it was a language of animal imagery, used to express some thoughts and to define one's position both in society, and in the world. The more tattoos were on the body, the longer it meant the person lived, and the higher was his position. For example the body of one man, which was found earlier in the 20th century, had his entire body covered with tattoos. Our young woman - the princess - has only her two arms tattooed. So they signified both age and status.'
The tattoos on the left shoulder of the 'princess' show a fantastical mythological animal: a deer with a griffon's beak and a Capricorn's antlers. The antlers are decorated with the heads of griffons. And the same griffon's head is shown on the back of the animal.
The mouth of a spotted panther with a long tail is seen at the legs of a sheep. She also has a deer's head on her wrist, with big antlers. There is a drawing on the animal's body on a thumb on her left hand.
On the man found close to the 'princess', the tattoos include the same fantastical creature, this time covering the right side of his body, across his right shoulder and stretching from his chest to his back. The patterns mirror the tattoos on a much more elaborately covered male body, dug from the ice in 1929, whose highly decorated torso is also reconstructed in our drawing here.
His chest, arms, part of the back and the lower leg are covered with tattoos. There is an argali - a mountain sheep - along with the same deer with griffon's vulture-like beak, with horns and the back of its head which has a griffon's heads and an onager drawn on it.
All animals are shown with the lower parts of their bodies turned inside out. There is also a winged snow leopard, a fish and fast-running argali.
To some, the clash depicted on the tattoes between vultures and hoofed animals corresponds to the conflict between two worlds: a predator from the lower, chthonian world against herbivorous animals that symbolise the middle world.
Dr Polosmak is intrigued at way so little has changed.
'We can say that most likely there was - and is - one place on the body for everyone to start putting the tattoos on, and it was a left shoulder. I can assume so because all the mummies we found with just one tattoo had it on their left shoulders.
'And nowadays this is the same place where people try to put the tattoos on, thousands of years on.
'I think its linked to the body composition. as the left shoulder is the place where it is noticeable most, where it looks the most beautiful. Nothing changes with years, the body stays the same, and the person making a tattoo now is getting closer to his ancestors than he or she may realise.
'I think we have not moved far from Pazyryks in how the tattoos are made. It is still about a craving to make yourself as beautiful as possible.
'For example, about the British. A lot of them go on holiday to Greece, and when I've been there I heard how Greeks were smiling and saying that a British man's age can be easily understood by the number of tattoos on his body.
'I'm talking the working class now. And I noticed it, too. The older a person, the more tattoos are on his body.'
FINDING THE ICE-CLAD 'PRINCESS'
'It was an international research programme, devoted to the Pazyryk Iron Age culture,' said Academician Vyacheslav Molodin, deputy director of Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences.
To modern man, the only way in is by helicopter, yet in ancient times this was on the 'southern steppe road' used by migrating nomadic peoples in the pre-Christian and Dark Ages.
'The burial mound with the 'princess' seemed to be half deserted, with big holes which border guards dug to use the stones.
'It seemed less than hopeful. But Natalya Polosmak was determined that we had to start working on it.
'To our utter surprise, there was an untouched burial chamber inside the mould.
'We started working on opening the 'ice lense' - the burial inside the mould was filled with ancient ice.
'We started to melt the ice. First the skeletons of six horses appeared, some with preserved wooden decorations on the harness, some with coloured saddles made from felt.
'On one of the saddles was a picture of a jumping winged lion.
'Then the burial room appeared from under the ice. It was made from larch logs. Inside stood a massive hollowed wooden log with a top, shut with bronze nails. Inside the log was all filled with ice.
'It was a tanned arm that appeared from under the ice first.
'A bit more work and we saw remain of a young woman, lying inside the log in a sleeping position, with her knees bent.
'She was dressed in a long shirt made from Chinese silk, and had long felt sleeve boots with a beautiful decoration on them.
'Chinese silk before was only found in 'Royal' burials of the Pazyryk people - it was more expensive than gold, and was a sign of a true wealth. 'There was jewellery and a mirror found by the log.
'The great value of Pazyryk burials is that they were all made in permafrost, which helped the preservation.
'It was quite unusual to have a single Pazyryk burial. Usually men from this culture were buried with women.
'In this case, her separate burial might signify her celibacy, which was typical for cult servants or shamans, and meant her independence and exceptionality.
'She had no weapons buried with her, or on her, which means that she certainly was not one of the noble Pazyryk women-warriors.
'Most likely, she possessed some special knowledge and was a healer, or folk tale narrator.
'From the inside the mummy was filled with herbs and roots. Her head was completely shaved, and she wore a horse hair wig.
'On top of the wig there was a symbol of the tree of life - a stick made from felt, wrapped with black tissue and decorated with small figures of birds in golden foil.
'On the front of the wig, like a cockade, was attached a wooden carving of deer.
'The princess's face and neck skin was not preserved, but the skin of her left arm survived, and we saw a tattoo, going all along it.
'She had tattoos on both arms, from shoulders to wrists, with some on the fingers, too. The best preserved of all was a tattoo on her left shoulder, featuring a deer with griffon's beak and a Capricorn's horns. A bit below is a sheep, with a snow leopard by its feet.'
It is said tattoos, once done, are for life. In this case, though, it was a whole lot longer. The experts say they were made with paint, partially concocted from the burned bits of plants, their soot or ashes which contained a high level of potassium. The drawings were pierced with a needle, and rubbed with a mixture of soot and fat.
WHAT RESEARCH ON HER BODY SHOWS
The experts say she died in her 20s, with the best guess at 25 to 28, and that this was 2,500 or more years ago, making her, for example, some five centuries older than Jesus Christ, and several hundred years the senior of Alexander the Great.
'She was called 'Princess' by the media. We just call her 'Devochka', meaning 'Girl'. She was 25-28 years old when she died,' said Irina Salnikova, head of the Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences Museum of Archeology and Ethnography.
'The reason for her death is unknown, because all her internal organs were removed before the mummifying. All we see is that there is no visible damage to her skull, or anything pointing to the unnatural character of her death.
'Her body is curled, so we cant say for sure how tall she was. Some estimate her to be 1.62 metres, others say she could have been as tall as 1.68 metres. We could not establish when the young woman has had her tattoos made, at what age. The horses, found by her burial, were most likely first killed, and then buried with her.'
In 2010 an MRI scan was conducted on the mummy, the first time this had been done on ancient remains in Russia. The final results of exhaustive analytical work has still not been released.
But Andrei Letyagin, chairman of the MRI Center of the Siberian department of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said: 'The cause of death remains unknown. I don't believe that it will be possible to find an answer to this question because there's no brain and no internal organs in the body.'
In all probability she did not die from injury. 'Her skull is fully preserved, and so are the bones,' he confirmed. DNA obtained from her remains is intriguing.
The Princess of Ukok is not related to any of the Asian races, the scientists are convinced. She is not related, evidently, to the present day inhabitants of Altai. Moreover, she had a European appearance, it has been claimed.
'There was a moment of gross misunderstanding when a legend came about this mummy being a foremother of people of Altai,' said Molodin.
'The people of Pazyryk belonged to different ethnic group, in no way related to Altaians. Genetic studies showed that the Pazyryks were a part of Samoyedic family, with elements of Iranian-Caucasian substratum.'
So perhaps more Samoyedic than Scythian.
'We tried to overcome the misunderstanding, but sadly it didn't work.'
Many locals in Altai were nervous from the start about the removal of remains from sacred burial mounds, known as kurgans, regardless of the value to science of doing such work.
In a land where the sway of shamans still holds, they believe the princess's removal led immediately to bad consequences.
'There are places here that it is considered a great sin to visit, even for our holy men. The energy and the spirits there are too dangerous,' warned one local. 'Every kurgan has its own spirit - there is both good and bad in them - and people here have suffered much misfortune since the Ice Princess was disturbed.'
It is nothing short of sacrilege to pour hot water on the remains of ancients who have survived in the permafrost for thousands of years, he said.
The 'curse of the mummy' even caused a crash of the helicopter carrying her remains away from Altai, some believe. Then in Novosibirsk, her body, preserved so well for so long, started to decompose.
Stories circulated that the princess had been stored in a freezer used to preserve cheese. Fungi began growing on the preserved flesh, it was claimed.
Whatever the truth, the scientists sought emergency help from the world-renowned Lenin embalming experts who worked on her remains for a year.
Back in Altai, many ills have been blamed on her removal: forest fires, high winds, illness, suicides and an upsurge in earthquakes in the Altai region.
Local woman, Olga Kurtugashova, said: 'She may be a mummy but her soul survives, and they say a shaman communicated with her and she asked to go home. That's what the people want, too.'
'Our ancestors are buried in these mounds,' insisted Rimma Erkinova, deputy director of the Gorno-Altaisk Republican National Museum as a war of words raged over the last decade. 'There are sacred items there. The Altai people never disturb the repose of their ancestors. We shouldn't have any more excavations until we've worked out a proper moral and ethical approach.'
THE CAMPAIGN FOR HER RETURN TO ALTAI
'She was a beautiful young woman, whom they dug up, poured hot water and chemicals upon, and subjected to other experiments. They did this to a real person,' complained Erkinova to the Irish Times newspaper in in 2004.
The same year, an Altai regional chief insisted: 'We must calm people and bury the Altai Princess.
'We're having earth tremors two or three times a week. People think this will go on as long as the princess's spirit is not allowed to rest in peace.'
Many wanted the princess to be returned from the Archaeological and Ethnographic Institute of Novosibirsk, some 600 km away, and restored to her original burial site.
After some 300 earth tremors in a six month period, the head of Kosh-Agachsky district Auelkhan Dzhatkambaev,appealed to the Siberian Federal District presidential envoy Leonid Drachevsky for this to happen.
Drachevsky travelled to Kosh-Agach and told residents that the mummies would not be returned, saying they were serving important scientific purposes, and that he was 'simply uncomfortable hearing about angry spirits, as if we were living in the Middle Ages'.
Erkinova's plan was different. 'We shall put the princess in a glass sarcophagus, so everybody can come and bow before her,' she said.
'This is a very painful issue. Altai's native people worry about their forbear. The Princess must return to us.'
People were angry, too, that the mummies were taken on a tour to Korea and Japan with one report saying the princess 'was met like a diva, with vast crowds, admirers on their knees and bouquets of red roses'.
Eventually a compromise was reached, though delays and arguments followed. Finally this culminates in this month's return of the princess not to her burial place but to the Altai museum.
'We agreed to give back the princess once the conditions for looking after it were right. That means proper accommodation with an air conditioner and a special sarcophagus,' said Molodin as long ago as 1997.
'Another condition was that this was our intellectual property and that we would have the right to use it for exhibitions and to study it. We're not doing this out of curiosity but in the interests of science. The soul is somewhere else and we're studying the remains. So I don't see a violation of any accepted social rule here.'
Finally, all now agree the princess is coming home.
BANNING MORE ARCHEOLOGICAL DIGS
The Altai authorities have now declared the remote mountain area from where the princess and her kinsmen were buried as a 'zone of peace' where no more excavations will take place, despite the near-certain treasures lying in the permafrost.
Such work amounts to plundering, they believe.
To Molodin, who found the male mummy several years after the princess, this deprives the world of a valuable scientific inheritance. He argues, too, that the issue is critical since global warming means the ancient bodies will decay.
Scientists reckon there are thousands of burial mounds here, hundreds of which date to the Pazyryk period, many of which may contain answers to questions about where we come from.
The Siberian Times thanks Dr. Natalya Polosmak, Elena Shumakova, Irina Salnikova and 'Science First Hand' Magazine for the images and drawings of tattoos.
DNA reveals 2,500-year-old Siberian warrior was a womanA hollowed-out log containing the corpse of a young individual who turned out to be a Scythian warrior girl interred with her combat gear, shown on the right: a bow, quiver, arrows, arrowheads, and an ax. Credit: Marina Kilunovskaya et al./Stratum Plus
The Scythians were an ancient warlike people living as nomads from the eighth century B.C. to the fourth century A.D. in the steppes between the lower Don and Danube. Most of what we know about Scythians comes from the ancient Greek reports of Herodotus, Hippocrates, and Pliny the Elder. Many Greek myths, including the accounts of Herodotus, mention a western tribe of warrior women living on the shores of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. However, until recently there was no confirmation of a similar phenomenon among the Scythians of Siberia.
The Saryg-Bulun burial site was discovered in 1988 during archaeological excavations off the right bank of the upper Yenisei, in the present-day Tuva Republic of Russia. Among those interred was a child aged between 12 and 14 years old, buried with full combat gear: a bow and arrows, and an ax. The favorable isolated environment resulted in the preservation of the organic material in the mummy of the assumed Scythian boy.
Traditionally, archaeologists working with ancient human remains infer sex from anatomical features and indirect clues, which are not always reliable. For example, the pelvic structure of men and women differs, though not as much in children. Or there might be some symbolic implements in the grave—a mirror or a spear, perhaps. Ironically, relying on such items for sex determination may make us even more gender-biased than our forebears from 2,500 years ago.
Archaeologists have come to this realization on multiple occasions since advanced genetic analysis techniques became available several years ago. As a result, it is becoming increasingly common to complement historical analysis with DNA assays, which have emerged as the standard procedure for sex determination making up for the potential deficiencies of the conventional approaches in archaeology.
To make use of these advanced tools, the archaeologists who originally unearthed the teenage warrior of Tuva over 30 years ago enlisted the help of researchers from the Historical Genetics Lab at MIPT, which is among the few laboratories worldwide capable of performing an ancient DNA analysis of such complexity.
"We were invited to investigate the paternal ancestry of the young warrior. And I have to say, we gave it our best. If only you'd seen how anxious it made us when at first things didn't work out," said Kharis Mustafin, the head of the MIPT Historical Genetics Lab. "When we examined the DNA fragments, we saw both short and long loci, but no loci associated with the Y chromosome. This led us to hypothesize that it might not be a male but rather a young woman buried in such a peculiar way. After a series of meticulous and detailed analyses that we performed using other techniques, we were able to establish that the remains indeed belonged to a young girl, apparently brought up as a warrior."
Three teeth and a skin fragment were made available to the researchers for genetic analysis. Following purification, the samples were ground into bone powder to extract DNA from. To determine the buried person's sex, the team performed a quantitative and qualitative DNA assay and analyzed an amelogenin gene via a molecular biology method known as polymerase chain reaction, which amplifies the initially low concentration of certain DNA fragments in the sample.
Since the study's publication, the team has made more progress analyzing the ancient warrior's genetic material. In an upcoming paper, pending peer review, the group led by Mustafin will report its findings concerning the maternal ancestry of the girl. There is also a larger-scale study in the makings, where the geneticists are again teaming up with their collaborators from the Institute for the History of Material Culture, who have retrieved about 70 new samples for DNA analysis dating from different epochs at a site not far from where the Tuvan Amazon was found.
Prior to their study of the Tuvan warrioress, the laboratory's team focused on genetic research into the medieval population of present-day Russia. The series of ongoing studies of Scythians marks a transition into the realm of truly ancient DNA analysis, with some of the samples dating back to 4,000 years ago. The findings offer a new look at the life and culture of Scythian tribes, as well as providing broader insights into the humanity's past.
Ancient Siberian grave holds 'warrior woman' and huge weapons stash
The grave holds the remains of a man, two women and a baby.
Archaeologists in Siberia have unearthed a 2,500-year-old grave holding the remains of four people from the ancient Tagar culture — including two warriors, a male and female — and a stash of their metal weaponry.
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 were 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.
Experts recreate a 2,500-year old Iron Age drink from ancient Germanic tombSource: Bettina Arnold.
Posted By: Dattatreya Mandal October 28, 2016
Back in the year 2000, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee archaeologist (and anthropologist) Bettina Arnold discovered a bronze cauldron inside a burial complex in Swabia, Germany – dating from 5th century BC. Interestingly enough, to her surprise, the inside walls of the vessel contained traces of an ancient brew. And after years of paleobotanical analysis, researchers and brewers have been able to recreate the Germanic drink concoction from Iron Age by identifying key ingredients of the original recipe.
The burial plot in question here pertained to a tumulus (Latin for ‘little hill’) that encompassed a mound of earth and cut stones constructed over a grave. Now while this grave in itself didn’t have a skeleton, possibly due to the remains being dissolved over millenniums by the acidic soil, the burial type alludes to an occupant who was probably an elite of the society. The occupant was also a male, as could be evidenced by the flurry of equipment (dating from circa 450 BC) inside the grave, including an iron sword, leather helmet with metal attachment (for feather crests) and two sturdy iron spears. In addition to these military objects, Arnold was witness to the aforementioned bronze cauldron. She made an interesting hypothesis relating to this incredible find (in her blog) –
The dead man in Tumulus 17 Grave 6 had been sent into the afterlife not only with his weapons but with about 14 liters of an alcoholic beverage that he could have used to establish himself as an important person in the next world as he had been in this one.
The original bronze cauldron. Source: Bettina Arnold.
Simply put, the ambit of alcohol was not only used for ‘lubricating’ social-based communications in real-life but also for ‘easing’ on the person’s connection in his after-life. Now from the historical context this does makes sense. As we had mentioned in our previous articles about the neighboring ancient Celts (and also the later Germanic Anglo-Saxons), for an ancient European warlord, “the acquisition of wines and their distribution among his retainers would actually reinforce his standing within the tribal structure.” As Arnold further explained (to NPR) –
Luckily for us, they didn’t just send people off to the afterlife with [weapons] — they also sent them off with the actual beverage. It’s a BYOB afterlife, you know? You have to be able to sort of throw a party when you get there.
As for the volume of the cauldron, we fleetingly mentioned how the vessel could amply accommodate around 14 liters (or 3.7 gallons) of presumably high quality beverage. But beyond just the volume, the researchers had to analyse the ‘old’ traces of the substance that lined the walls of the ancient bronze container. And on paleobotanical assessment of the remnants, they found out that the Iron Age drink was made of ingredients like yeast, barley, honey, meadowsweet (as opposed to hops), and mint.
Cellarmaster at Lakefront Brewery, Chad Sheridan, provided insights in regards to the true nature of the drink. Source: Bettina Arnold
After identifying these key ingredients, Arnold decided to entirely recreate the drink, and she took the help of brew-making experts at Milwaukee’s Lakefront Brewery. Lakefront cellarmaster Chad Sheridan put forth his theory that this ancient beverage might have been a variant of braggot, a form of mead that basically entails the blend of honey and barley malt (as two sugar sources). In any case, the resultant drink, according to NPR’s Bonnie North, was “was smooth and pleasant — almost like a dry port, but with a minty, herbal tinge to it. It also packed an alcoholic kick.” Arnold further mentioned –
[Our] version would have been significantly cleaner than the prehistoric one, but we did succeed in producing something that provides those of us with jaded modern palates with a very different flavor profile. The mint actually came through first, which was unexpected, followed by the slightly astringent meadow sweet, but the honey was barely in evidence (having been almost completely converted to alcohol)…with an [alcohol by volume] of over 8 percent, this is not your grannie’s braggot, and although adding honey at this stage would probably make it more drinkable for [today’s] mead imbibers, we decided to leave it as is.
Unfortunately for the paleo-brew enthusiasts, this particular ancient variety of braggot from Iron Age Swabia will probably not see the commercial light of the day. But the good news is – that is not the end of the line for recreations of historical drinks for Arnold. On the contrary, she and her faculty (at UWM’s College of Letters and Science) are working on introducing a program and even a course that will allow even more recreations based on authentic ancient recipes and archaeological evidences.
A modern version of braggot. Image courtesy of American Homebrewers Association.
Grave of Iron Age warriors found with weapons in Russia
A 2,500-year-old grave jam-packed with daggers, knives, axes and four skeletons, including a "warrior woman," has been found in Siberia, surprising experts.
Archaeologists found the Iron Age remains and have concluded they belong to the ancient Tagar culture, a nomadic group of warriors that lived in modern-day Siberia. Two warriors, a male and female, as well as an infant, were part of the four skeletons discovered in the burial ground.
“The man and woman lying next to them were about 35 and 45 years old, and the woman at their feet was about 60 or older," said anthropologist Olga Batanina in a translated statement from the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. "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."
Group burial. (Credit: INSTITUTE OF ARCHEOLOGY AND ETHNOGRAPHY SIBERIAN BRANCH OF THE RUSSIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES)
It's unclear what the relationship between the people was, but researchers hope to use DNA analysis to show if there were any familial ties. The archaeologists are not yet sure how they died, but they speculated perhaps an illness resulted in their deaths.
The grave was found in the southern part of Khakassia, in Siberia. Perhaps even more remarkable than the find itself was that the grave was not looted, which so many Tagarain graves are, Yuri Vitalievich Teterin, head of the excavation, added in the statement.
The researchers also unearthed bronze mirrors and a miniature comb made of an animal horn, the statement added. The weapons were full-size, which went against later Tagar burials that saw miniature versions buried alongside members of the community.
Group of artifacts found. (Credit: INSTITUTE OF ARCHEOLOGY AND ETHNOGRAPHY SIBERIAN BRANCH OF THE RUSSIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES)
The Tagar culture lasted for approximately 500 years, from the 8th century B.C. to the 3rd century B.C., LiveScience reported.
A number of Iron Age finds have been discovered in recent memory. In February 2019, researchers found more than 100 fragmented human skulls buried in an open area of Le Cailar, France — a 2,500-year-old town on the Rhone River.
Researchers gathered evidence in May 2019 that Iron Age Celts drank Mediterranean wine as far back as 2,700 years ago. Separately in May 2019, an Iron Age shield made from bark, the first of its kind found in Europe, was analyzed by researchers.
In July 2019, researchers unearthed the grave of a Celtic female who was buried in approximately 200 B.C. in a tree coffin and adorned with precious jewelry.
In February, 70,000 coins from the Iron Age that were discovered in 2012, set a Guinness World Record for being the largest trove of its kind discovered in the British Isles.
2,500-year old stone slab reveals the name of an ancient ‘powerful’ Etruscan goddessCredit: Mugello Valley Project
Posted By: Dattatreya Mandal August 26, 2016
The Poggio Colla archaeological site situated near the town of Vicchio, in the scenic region of Tuscany, Italy, boasts habitation layers of the ancient yet mysterious Etruscans that had been preserved throughout the millenniums. The settlement was possibly inhabited as early as 7th century BC, while it was abandoned (or destroyed) by 3rd century BC when the Romans had already established their supremacy in the Italian peninsula. But this time around archaeologists have discovered a fascinating clue that might shed some new light into the cultural and religious scopes of the ancient Etruscans. To that end, the collaborative effort from the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project and the Southern Methodist University (SMU), has uncovered a 2,500-year old stone slab from a temple that spells out the name of a very important Etruscan goddess – Uni. This hints at the presence of an underground fertility cult that might have thrived in the urban area during its heydays.
Uni was viewed as a divine entity related to fertility, and often considered as the supreme goddess of the Etruscan pantheon (and also the patron goddess of Perugia, one of the main Etruscan urban centers). As for the mention of the entity in question here, the archaeologists found the 500-lbs stone slab (4 ft by 2 ft) embedded in the foundation of a monumental temple at the Poggio Colla site. Interestingly enough, the reveal of the name is only a part of a sacred text that is possibly the longest Etruscan inscription even found etched on a stone. This incredible find was complemented by other significant discoveries, including a ceramic fragment with the earliest (known) birth scene in European art. Adriano Maggiani, a former Professor at the University of Venice, and one of the researchers involved in deciphering the message, said –
The location of its discovery — a place where prestigious offerings were made — and the possible presence in the inscription of the name of Uni, as well as the care of the drafting of the text, which brings to mind the work of a stone carver who faithfully followed a model transmitted by a careful and educated scribe, suggest that the document had a dedicatory character.
A scene on an Etruscan mirror in which Uni suckles the adult Hercle (Hercules) before he ascends to immortality. Credit: Massimo Pallottino, Indiana University Press
In terms of the scope of the inscription, the archaeologists believe that once the entire text is properly reconstructed it could reveal more than 120 characters. Now while scholars are aware of how Etruscan grammar works (along with some of its words and alphabet), the stone slab might reveal new words and compositions that could possibly fill the gaps of the still incomplete knowledge of the Etruscan language. In regard to this content, other than the aforementioned hypothesis of a fertility cult in the area, the researchers are also putting forth the possibility of a stele that describes the ‘laws’ of the sanctuary dedicated to Uni. Gregory Warden, professor emeritus at Southern Methodist University, and the co-director of the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project, said –
It is also possible that it expresses the laws of the sanctuary — a series of prescriptions related to ceremonies that would have taken place there, perhaps in connection with an altar or some other sacred space.
Now in terms of the sheer ‘value’ of this stone stele, Warden has touted how the find might be “one of the most important Etruscan discoveries of the last few decades”. One of the reasons for its value stems from the rarity of Etruscan inscriptions on ‘solid’ objects. To that end, the mysterious yet powerful civilization of ancient Italy had a penchant for inscribing funerary objects that often comprised linen cloth books or wax tablets. But this time around, as opposed to funeral rites, the stone-based etching might be directly related to the temple rituals of the Etruscans, while also hinting at a better comprehension of the (incompletely deciphered) Etruscan language.
Suffice it to say, the researchers are still working on reading, comprehending and analyzing the said inscription, with the conservation project being already kick-started in one of the laboratories of the Archaeological Superintendency in Florence. In the meantime, a hologram of the stele is expected to be showcased at a dedicated Florence exhibit this week. And finally, as for the Etruscan ambit, archaeologists were fortunate enough back in March of this year when they unearthed an ancient treasure-filled tomb of an Etruscan princess, dating from 8th century BC, in Vulci (Lazio). But in spite of some of these recent excavation projects the Etruscan civilization is still mired in mystery, with numerous theories being concocted when it comes to their origins. In that regard, one of the latest mitochondrial DNA studies have revealed how they were apparently related to a Neolithic population hailing from Central Europe.
Artistic reconstruction of an Etruscan temple in Vulci.
The study and its findings will be published in an upcoming edition of Etruscan Studies.
Magical Machine Battalion
These are part of firearms equipped the Magical Machine Battalion, an artillery division in the Ming armies established by Emperor Yongle at the beginning of the 15th century.
In 1410, the firearm battalion was first deployed to engage Mongols and won the battle, which allowed the construction of the new Beijing to be carried on and Chinese capital to be formally relocated from the south (Nanjing) to the north (Beijing) in 1421.
Nearly three decades later in 1449, a regrouped Mongol army of 120,000 men launched a new military campaign against China. Ming Emperor Yingzong (Yongle’s great-grandson) was captured by the Mongols when he led the troops to confront the enemies outside the Shanhai Pass, and the defence lines along the Great Wall were almost lost. It was also the Magical Machine Battalion that played a critical role in regaining the control of the situation.
Is this the face of an ancient Amazon female warrior?
Replica shows visage of 16 year old fighter buried with her weapons and horses.
Is this the face of an ancient Amazon female warrior? Picture: Marcel Nyffenegger
Her remains - unearthed in the Altai Mountains - suggest likenesses to the fabled all-female virgin Amazon warriors of known to the Greeks. Entombed next to a much older man, she lay beside shields, battle axes, bows and arrowheads, while her physique indicated she had once been a skilled horse rider and archer.
In a singular honour, nine horses - four of them bridled - were buried with her, escorting her to the afterlife.
The renowned Siberian archaeologist, Dr Natalya Polosmak, who located her remains in 1990, speculated the teenage warrior who died around 2,500 years ago could have belonged to an elite all-female corps of warriors within the Pazyryk culture in this mountainous region of southern Siberia.
Now, the teenage fighter's face has been revealed to the world for the first time through the use of intricate taxidermy techniques by Swiss expert Marcel Nyffenegger.
Last week The Siberian Times mistakenly reported the face recreated by Mr Nyffenegger was that of the 2,500 year old tattooed 'Princess Ukok', discovered nearby by the same archeologist. We apologise for the error in fact, as we now report, the possibility of this visage being that of a fabled female warrior is even more intriguing.
The grave of this 16 year old, adjacent to the tattooed ice maiden and known as number 1 Ak-Alakha burial, was significantly different from other elite and lower-ranking females who were entombed without weapons, and wearing women's clothes, in the same era.
Scheme of the young lady and her male companion burials, where A stands for rocks, B - logs, C - permafrost soil, D - ice, E - horses burial, F - burial cabins, G - burial soil, H-soil, I - mainland more detailed schemes of the burial, with the young lady on the left, and the number one Ak-Alakha burial after archeologists finished works. Pictures: Natalya Polosmak
'The burial of a woman in riding clothes, and escorted by her horses, is not totally unexpected for the time, which was known for multiple mentions of the legendary Amazons,' said Dr Polosmak, from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography at the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
'Perhaps the Ak-Alakha burial has discovered representatives of little known members of a Pazyryk elite, in which women - for social and economic reasons - were allowed to be more war-like'.
But she went on: 'There is another explanation of why this burial is so exceptional.'
She cited Greek physician Hippocrates - who lived approximately from 460 BC to 370 BC - and his writings about the Sarmatians, which, like the Pazyryks, were a Scythian grouping famed for their mastery of mounted warfare.
'Their women, so long as they are virgins, ride, shoot, throw the javelin while mounted, and fight with their enemies,' he wrote. 'They do not lay aside their virginity until they have killed three of their enemies, and they do not marry before they have performed the traditional sacred rites.
'A woman who takes to herself a husband no longer rides, unless she is compelled to do so by a general expedition'.
Drawing of the young lady's helmet, her chisel, arrows and arrows' shafts, drawing of her neck decoration and an earing, a comb found inside the man's grave and a man's neck decoration wooden decorations from the young lady's helmet, a wooden reindeer from headgear, felt saddle decorations on her horses and a scheme of the horses' burial. Pictures: Natalya Polosmak
Dr Polosmak said: 'As we can see from this quote, it was only young girls that behaved in this war-like way, and it was happening for a very short period of their time.
'This is why burials of armed women are exceptionally rare, and must belong to very young women whose lives were tragically and unexpectedly interrupted.'
Dating back to Greek mythology, very little is known about such Amazon warriors, with different accounts for when they existed or even where they were found. Some say they lived on the shores of the Black Sea, in what is now Turkey, while others place them in Libya or in the border lands beside Ukraine.
In Roman history there are various accounts of Amazon raids in western Asia, and their name has become a term for female warriors in general. Notable queens of the Amazons were said to include Penthesilea, who participated in the Trojan War, and Hippolyta, whose magical girdle, given to her by her father Area, was the object of one of the labours of Hercules.
The teenage warrior was discovered in a double grave alongside a much older male in Ak-Alakha in the Altai region. Very little of her remains were still intact, unlike Princess Ukok who was preserved nearby in permafrost, but it is thought she also once had tattoos on her body.
Writing in a 1994 book, Dr Polosmak said the discovery was 'unique' because of the way the female skeleton was dressed in male clothing and buried with weapons.
Mr Nyffenegger was asked to create a likeness of the warrior for the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer, Germany. Picture: Marcel Nyffenegger
The Novosibirsk archaeologist was the first to suggest there could be a link to Ancient Greece, though she also said the woman could have been part of a privileged society that allowed burials with armoury.
'A system of commemorative structures next to number 1 Ak-Alakha burial signified higher social status of people laid to rest there than in all other burials within the same graveyard,' she explained. 'The mound can be classified as average in size, with west to east diameter being 18 metres, and north to south - 17.5 metres the surface of the mound was 70 cm above the modern surface. 180cm under the ground there was a larch cabin at the bottom of the pit, measuring 4x4, and 10x1 metres.
'The log cabin was made from crude logs (meaning that tree trunks had bark on) from 16 to 20 cm in diameter and had seven rows of logs. The cabin was covered from logs taken from dismantled polygonal house. None of the other known Pazyryk burials used house logs to cover burial log cabins.
'The fact of using trees from already assembled house can be interpreted as a concern for the future life in the other world, where a man and a young woman buried in the mound needed housing as they did in their earthly life.'
'There were nine horses buried with the man and the young woman.All horses were buried with harnesses and other equipment, four of the nine were bridled. Seven complete sets of harness were found in the burial.
'All of the burial chamber was filled with ice there were two larch decks standing next to each other and next to the walls of the cabin, with lids closed.'
The teenage fighter's face has been revealed to the world for the first time through the use of intricate taxidermy techniques by Swiss expert Marcel Nyffenegger (pictured working). Picture: Marcel Nyffenegger
In Burial 1 was a large deck which was right next to the southern wall of the burial cabin. It was occupied by a man of Caucasian type, aged 45 to 50. In Burial 2, with a smaller deck, was the 16 year old young woman, lying on the right side of her body.
'The felt part of her headgear had not preserved, but judging by its components - like a finial in the shape of a bird, wrapped in a golden foil, reindeer and horse figurines - it was identical to the man's headgear,' she wrote. 'On the young woman's neck was a complicated adornment with its front decorated with wooden figurines of two wolves, covered in golden foil, and its back side sewn into a leather case.
'Five red strings each ending with little balls made of yarn, similar to those inside the man's burial, but smaller, were found in her chest area.
'There were 34 cowrie shells and two wooden buttons (a round and a rectangular one) found in her pelvis area. There was an iron chisel with a wooden handle found lying along the bones of her right leg. Around the belt area was a bronze mirror inside leather case with a loop, and a leather handbag.
'On the right thigh was an iron dagger in an extremely badly preserved wooden sheath, with remnants of leather belts. Along her left thigh was the wooden base of a quiver, with engraved scenes of leopards tormenting boars. Next to it were found seven bone arrowheads, staffs and parts of a composite bow.
'The young woman was dressed in trousers made from coarse red fabric. Remains of the fabric were found in her pelvis area and around her leg bones. Two wooden buckles, covered in golden foil were found around her belt area, along with a round ironwork decorated with gold.
'Fragments of fur and felt clothes and shoes were also found in her burial. Weapon items included a bow, arrows, wooden parts of quivers, daggers, (and) battle axes'.
Fragments of the male (1) and the female belts. Picture: Natalya Polosmak
She said: 'The young woman's belt looks simpler than the one found on the man's remains, but we should take into account that never before were such types of belt - with wooden decoration attached to them - found in female burials. They were believed to be part of male costumes only, so this find is truly unique.
'Just as unique for the Pazyryk culture is the burial of the young woman, dressed in male clothes and very well armed. The so-called Royal burials had women dressed in very rich but female clothes and without weapons.'
Mr Nyffenegger was asked to create a likeness of the warrior for the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer, Germany. Working with a 3D model of the skull, he spent a month painstakingly piecing together her facial muscles and tissue layers as well as reconstructing her skin structure, eyes and expression.
The resulting Plasticine model was then covered with silicone and a rubber-resin mixture before finer details such as eyebrows and eyelashes were added.
The Swiss expert said he believes the face is very accurate to how the woman actually looked. Pictures: Marcel Nyffenegger
More than 100,000 individual strands of hair were used to give the warrior her flocking locks, a process that in itself took two whole weeks.
'That two weeks took me to the brink of insanity,' the expert confessed. 'I didn't spend more than two or three hours a day on that part because it was very boring and neck pain literally forced me to do something else.'
The Swiss expert, from the city of Schaffhausen, said he believes the face is very accurate to how the woman actually looked.
He said: 'With such a soft tissue reconstruction, purely based on the bone structure, we have achieved an accuracy of 75 per cent of the former appearance of the woman. The remaining 25 per cent was our interpretation since, for example, we were missing parts of the nasal bone and thus an accurate reconstruction was not possible.
'The skull itself shows where the muscles were located and which form and thickness they had and shows the points at which the skin lied directly on the bone'.