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A. J. Haywood

Found: grave of Siberian noblewoman up to 4,500 years old - with links to native Americans

By The Siberian Times reporter
19 August 2016

Her treasures include an incense burner decorated by solar symbols, 1,500 beads that once adorned her costume, and 100 pendants made from animal teeth.

Undisturbed by pillaging grave robbers, the burial site of the woman, also containing the remains of a child, offers a wealth of clues about the life of these ancient people. Picture: IIMK RAS

The intriguing find of the remains of a 'noblewoman' from the ancient Okunev Culture was made in the Republic of Khakassia.

The Okunev people are seen as the Siberian ethnic grouping most closely related to Native Americans. In other words, it was ancestors of the Okunevs who populated America, evidently using primitive boats to venture to the ice-covered Beringia land bridge some 12,600 years ago.   

The mysterious ancient culture was 'unparalleled' in Siberia in terms of its artistic richness and diversity, according to experts.  

Undisturbed by pillaging grave robbers, the burial site of the woman, also containing the remains of a child, offers a wealth of clues about the life of these ancient people. 

Incense burner

The incense burner found in the grave contains sun-shaped faces which match previously-discovered ancient rock art in Siberia. Picture: IIMK RAS

The head of the expedition Dr Andrey Polyakov said  the grave of the 'noblewoman' dated back to the Early Bronze Age, between the 25th and 18th centuries BC.

'For such an ancient epoch, this woman has a lot of items in her grave,' he said. 'We have not encountered anything like this in other burials from this time, and it leads us to suggest that the items in her grave had some ritual meaning. 

'We hope to get even more rare and spectacular finds next year, when will  continue to study this unique (burial) mound and open the central burial plot.'

Pendants

 Around 100 decorations made from the teeth of different animals mark the special status of the woman. Picture: IIMK RAS

Archeologists believe the woman 'enjoyed a special status during her lifetime', as indicated by around 100 decorations made from the teeth of different animals, items carved from bone and horn, two jars, cases with bone needles inside, a bronze knife, and more than 1,500 beads that embellished her funeral costume.

There is particular excitement about the incense burner because it contains sun-shaped faces which match previously-discovered ancient rock art in Siberia. The clay incense burner bearing three sun-shaped facial images, recovered from the grave, is the most important find of all,' he said.

'Its importance is hard to overestimate. All such images previously discovered had been found only on cliffs or separate stones. Now there is the prospect to find out when they were made.'

New engraving

The stone roofs of some graves on a burial hill at Itkol II also bear chiseled images - known as Okunev faces. Picture: IIMK RAS

He made clear: 'Now, thanks to our current research, we can definitely say that these rock arts were made by the representatives of the Okunev culture.' After precise dating and restoration, the incense burner will be exhibited at the world famous Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, he said. 

The location where the finds were made is known as the Itkol II burial site, in the Shira district of Khakassia. Excavations began here in 2008 - with some 560 finds in total so far - but there is a sense that the best is yet to come. 

Another find is a stone slab with a rare image of a bull having a long rectangular body. These are not common in southern Siberia, but are known on the territory of modern-day Kazakhstan. Archeologists see this as an indication that Okunev people may have migrated to Khakassia from the south.

Burials

Excavations began here in 2008 - with some 560 finds in total so far - but there is a sense that the best is yet to come. Picture: IIMK RAS

Does this mean modern-day Native Americans originated from Kazakhstan and not southern Siberia, as previously thought? We await more scientific evidence.  

The stone roofs of some graves on a burial hill at Itkol II also bear chiseled images - known as Okunev faces. Archeologists believe they are not faces of real people, but more likely images of spirits, gods and other supernatural deities. One of the faces belongs to a type never seen before, although details of this find have not been made public so far. 

The culture owes its name to the locality of Okunev, in the south of Khakassia, where the first burial site of this type was excavated in 1928. The Okunev Steles - anthropomorphous stone columns several meters tall - are the most widely known monument attributed to this culture.

The top of these steles has the shape of a bird's beak. The middle part is decorated with images of one or several anthropomorphous creatures, while the lower part resembles the open mouth of a snake.

Okunevo mask


Okunevo 'mask' Okunevo 'mask'

The Okunev Steles - anthropomorphous stone columns several meters tall - are the most widely known monument attributed to this culture. Pictures: Boris Dolinin, Elena Sibiryakova

Experts see this as evidence of sophistication in these ancient people's beliefs. They maintained that the world around them consists of three major elements.

Dr Polyakov said: 'Okunev archaeological culture is a unique phenomenon of the Early Bronze Age of Southern Siberia. We have a huge quantity of artistic heritage in the form of numerous images - 'masks', carved or engraved on the rocks. They have special style, which is a kind of symbol of Okunev culture.'

Until now, the experts 'could not prove the direct connection of the rock art and Okunev burial grounds'. This has now changed. 

*TWO YEARS AGO, Siberian angler Nikolay Tarasov, then 53, was fishing for carp.

Instead he pulled out of the water a 4,000 year old 'unique and amazing' pagan god statuette carved in horn but later fossilised. The figurine had almond-shaped eyes, a large mouth with full lips, and a ferocious facial expression. The find was believed to be from the Okunev culture. 

We have a huge quantity of artistic heritage in the form of numerous images - 'masks', carved or engraved on the rocks. They have special style, which is a kind of symbol of Okunev culture.' Pictures: Boris Dolinin

Okunevo 'mask' Okunevo 'mask'

Comments (35)

@ Diana Dracula,+ Not that you would figure this out your self but the Native Americans had already been in the Americas over 20,000 years before this Lady even existed. And the Native Americans were not that far behind Europeans, they were in the copper age and the South Americans were in the Bronze Age , most were living in Mansions while your ancestors slept with the pigs and goats.
Normandie Kent, Santa Barbara, CA.
11/07/2017 11:28
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0
Uhhh.......no. The Ancestors of the Okunev stayed in Siberia and gave rise to the Okunev. The ancestors of the Native Americans are the ones who went on to populate the two continents of the Americas, these People are solely the ancestors of the Native Americans.
Normandie Kent, Santa Barbara CA
11/07/2017 11:17
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0
Diana Drakulich - I believe the article stated the American Indians that had migrated from Siberia to North America were ANCESTORS of this Okunev woman. So the timeline fits.
Susan R., Ohio
01/04/2017 04:40
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I need this article to complete my assignment in the college, and it has same topic with your article. Thanks, great share.
SM
max, newyork
08/02/2017 23:17
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The Sun-like faces have such beautiful, placid expressions, I love looking at them. If the museum that houses them has a gift shop, I would buy a t=shirt with their images on it. Their expression is so pleasant and benign. If these are their gods, they must have been wonderful inspirations for these people. , I noticed the third eyes too
maureen OSullivan, New York USA
03/01/2017 21:00
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excellent article. Thank you.
Ahmad wael, amman
21/11/2016 12:34
3
0
How does this all fare now that academics have said that Beringian and the ice free corridor in north America could not possible have had the vegetation to maintain man and animals for a very long time? Thus the Beringia model doesn't work.
E. Hane, Canada
18/09/2016 03:47
2
3
The French comment says:

Fascinating. Maybe do a cross-check with other studies: The Ket language has been linked to the Na-Dene languages of West Native Americans (Apache, Navajo ...). A study of the Y chromosome has also shown a close relationship with the Y chromosomes of Native Americans. Thank you for these beautiful photos and comments
kodabar, England
14/09/2016 19:13
5
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fishing an artefact out of the water?? either archaeology is his destiny or something's a bit fishy.... :-p
Andrew Boyd, Leeston, New Zealand
09/09/2016 16:33
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And what ABOUT the childrens sacrifices? No iPhone, no computer - they probably had to play OUTSIDE! All the time! In any kind of weather
No car, though they DID have horses, dunno if Dads gave their ok to ride...I guess the kids had to run everywhere...no wonder they were so frickin' HARDY!!
Paul Folse, USA
03/09/2016 01:27
1
7
Can someone translate the Frech comment (please pardon my ignorance)?
Paul
Paul Folse, USA
03/09/2016 01:16
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2
Ref the group of 3 Images with faces - to me it seems like they all have a 3rd eye, incl. the last one with a triangle shape etched in the forehead. All of which seem to have an external connection - Maybe the Sun, 432Hz (Music), the Schumann Universal frequency, or similar?
Paul, Dublin
26/08/2016 08:34
2
4
Ref the group of 3 Images with faces - to me it seems like they all have a 3rd eye, incl. the last one with a triangle shape etched in the forehead. All of which seem to have an external connection - Maybe the Sun, 432Hz (Music), the Schumann Universal frequency, or similar?
Paul, Dublin
25/08/2016 02:35
3
2
It is wonderful to witness the remarkable discoveries in the modern days that disturb the "accepted" interpretation of the past. It may be that we will soon have to gather the evidence we have, and do a proper re write of what we actually know.
Once again, the Siberian Times presents another excellent article. Thank you.
bernie, 30 degrees north, 90 degrees west (Central United States)
24/08/2016 10:39
11
1
Wake Up....With The Sinking of Atlantis, The Flow Went West To East .....
Jessica Espinoza, USA
23/08/2016 23:09
0
10

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