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2,500-year-old grave of warrior couple discovered in Siberia

A 2,500-year-old grave containing the bodies of a warrior couple, their child and their elderly servant has been discovered in Siberia.

2,500-year-old grave of warrior couple discovered in Siberia
The pair are believed to have died in their 30s and were buried with a baby
and an 'elderly' servant woman, archaeologists say. The elderly woman
was likely in her 60s when she died. The bones of the child were
scattered throughout the grave, probably by rodents
[Credit: Archaeology NSU]

Archaeologists believe the couple were in their 30s and that they were Scythian warriors. Along with the skeletons, former belongings of theirs, including weapons, were found as well.

The grave is located in Khakassia by was found by one of the teams of the Askiz archaeological expedition of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography SB RAS and OOO Arkhgeoproekt. It’s thought this particular burial was part of the Tagar culture which flourished between the 8th and 2nd centuries BC in South Siberia.

2,500-year-old grave of warrior couple discovered in Siberia
In contrast to other female warriors from ancient Siberia, the female in the grave was armed
 in with a long-handled weapon, either a hatchet or an axe, and a short sword. These
weapons are best suited for hand-to-hand combat [Credit: Archaeology NSU]

While the skeletons of the two women and man were almost perfectly intact, the skeleton of the baby is thought to have been scattered across the grave which is said to have been caused by rodents eating the skin of the deceased.

Dr Oleg Mitko, head of Archaeology at Novosibirsk State University, said: "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. Also in the burial were found the remains of a newborn baby no more than a month old, but fragments of its skeleton were scattered throughout the grave, possibly as a result of the activity of rodents."

2,500-year-old grave of warrior couple discovered in Siberia
The couple, the baby and servant, are from the Tagar culture,
 part of the Scythian civilisation, researchers believe
[Credit: Archaeology NSU]

It’s reportedly quite rare to find the graves in these states – typically peoples’ graves were robbed and ransacked by others knowing that they will have been buried with some of their most important belongings. Senior researcher Yuri Vitalievich Teterin said they repeatedly come across looted graves and that usually the skeletons are scattered around.

Along with the skeletons, the grave had a bronze weapon, a round mirror and a miniature comb made of horn were discovered.

2,500-year-old grave of warrior couple discovered in Siberia
Individual burial of a warrior [Credit: Archaeology NSU]

Dr Mitko said: "We have an impressive set of weaponry. We found close fight weapons in a female grave, which is not so typical. The woman had a battle axe.. so she was a part of a warrior strata."

Teterin added, "The man had two axes and two bronze daggers. It is a brilliant burial in that there is authentic bronze weaponry."

2,500-year-old grave of warrior couple discovered in Siberia
General view of the Kazanovka-6 burial mound at the foot of Mount Aar-tag
[Credit: Archaeology NSU]

Despite researchers describing the younger woman and the man as ‘warriors’, it’s believed they died from an infection rather than from battle as there were no immediate evidence of battle wounds. It’s likely the elderly woman and child died of the infection as well.

Author: Niamh Shackleton | Source: UNILAID [September 22, 2020]


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