Scythian burial with two decapitated skeletons found in Altai Mountains
A newly-found burial from the ancient Pazyryk culture has produced a sight unknown to archaeologists. Two skeletons were found in the riverside tomb - an adult and child, or teenager, but further investigation is needed to understand if they were male or female.
|The heads were included in the burial [Credit: Nikita Konstantinov]|
The discovery of this tomb at this Pazyryk burial ground - named Taldur II, close to Old Beltir village - provides some intriguing challenges to scientists.
|The discovery of this tomb at this Pazyryk burial ground - named Taldur II, close to Old Beltir |
village - provides some intriguing challenges to scientists [Credit: Nikita Konstantinov]
Dr Nikita Konstantinov, of Gorno-Altaisk State University who headed the excavations, said: 'Burials without heads are quite common. Usually it is because of war. There was a widespread practice in which bowls were made of the heads of defeated enemies.'
|Skulls of ancient adult and child pair placed near kneecaps of grown-up, in bizarre burial puzzling archaeologists|
[Credit: Nikita Konstantinov]
In previous burials, the heads of these enemies were not buried in the same grave. And in this case, care was taken to send the deceased on their way well dressed and with the expected rituals of an honoured death.
|Two skeletons were found in the riverside tomb - an adult and child, or teenager, but further investigation is needed to |
understand if they were male or female [Credit: Nikita Konstantinov]
'And the heads are not missing at all. They were included in the burial.'
|Bronze mirrors found in the tomb [Credit: Nikita Konstantinov]|
Yet against this is the fact that the 'skeletons remained in anatomical order - which means that if the heads were moved after burial, it must have been when the ligaments had not decomposed' - so very soon post-death.
|Golden foil found in the tomb [Credit: Nikita Konstantinov]|
Yet it is unique among Pazyryk burials. No such graves have been found before in Siberia, he says. The archaeologists say the other version 'is that these people were buried initially with their heads cut off....and placed close to their knees'.
|Remnants of fur clothes found in the tomb [Credit: Nikita Konstantinov]|
The discovery has left 'more questions than answers', he acknowledged. 'We have no similar cases, so we need to investigate this one very thoroughly. We will continue the research of these skeletons.
'We need to determine their gender and (approximate) age. It is also important to study the traces on their cervical vertebrae to understand how and when the heads were cut off or separated in some other way. We hope to get the first results in December or January.'
Source: The Siberian Times [September 26, 2016]