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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)

Thank you for the article with images often lacking in western archaeological articles. Indeed, the Americas were linked to the East and Central Asia: search "great ancestors.com" for "ancient copper mining in Michigan." The etymology link is clear: mesh means "smithie" and "gani" meant "mischevious dwarf helper of Shiva." Meshgani/Michigan. Metallurgic testing of copper arrowhead found in UK give a 5000 BC date with Michigan the source.
farang, Chiangmai, Thailand
22/08/2016 22:15
10
3
To Diana Drakulich: Maybe, just maybe, it's time to rethink your linear view of history... then, all of a sudden, your 'problem' goes away... Please, review the info at http://binaryresearchinstitute.com/bri/history-and-celestial-time/
ALEXANDER KOVALYOV, LIVINGSTON MANOR, NY US
22/08/2016 20:31
5
0
I am probably being naive, but these stele remind me of totem poles we saw in Alaska and that I read about on the west coast, around Washington State. Fascinating article, I too look forward to learning more.
Lynne newman, Chambersburg PA, USA
22/08/2016 19:07
8
2
The woman had a BRONZE KNIFE??? American Indians were stone age. Unless the Okunev decided to leave the knowledge of smelting metals behind in the Old World when they `settled America'. Highly doubtful. That creates a problem with the conclusion of these findings
Diana Drakulich, USA
22/08/2016 18:46
10
8
Utah, yes noblewoman. This is view things were done in the past - before America was invaded. Those who had those kinds of riches were noble / aristocratic. Peasants don't have the same kind of stuff. Read history and learn something.
Greg Anderson - where in that article did you get child sacrifice? There is nothing said to that effect - except your projection.
Vesna Fairmont , Seattle WA
22/08/2016 12:49
8
5
Great discovery, it seems that the existence of woman chief in that period.3608
Dr. Aditya Kr. Chatterjee, Dibrugarh/ India
22/08/2016 12:08
8
2
According to those who believe in the Beringia theory, the land bridge was not ice-covered. Several very old South American sites cast great doubt on the theory.
Jennifer Bibb, Richmond, Va
22/08/2016 04:34
3
2
Noblewoman...hmm...makes her sound like European aristocracy. How about "woman discovered with unprecedented collection of artifacts"...noblewoman indeed...
Anne Albaugh, Salt Lake City, Utah
22/08/2016 01:40
5
23
Fascinating. A recouper peut-être avec d'autres études ?: Le Ket, langue Ienisseienne aurait un lien avec les langues Na-Déné ouest Amérindienne (Apache, Navajo ...) . Une étude d'une région du chromosome Y a aussi montré une proche parenté avec les chromosomes Y des Amérindiens. Merci pour ces belles photos et commentaires et ...@ suivre !
Jocelyne, FRANCE
21/08/2016 20:55
9
2
I hope the DNA results will be released at some point. And I look forward to further information on this find!
Cyndi, Maryland, USA
21/08/2016 17:55
12
1
Fascinating and exciting discovery. I look forward to seeing and hearing more of the discoveries coming out of this site.
Lynne Ray, Canada
21/08/2016 14:05
13
1
Just found this article through a link from Ancient Origins and have to say I am 'blown away', because the last 2 figures are spitting images of a cultural icon here in New Zealand, from Maori art styles....
Whisperer, Auckland, New Zealand
21/08/2016 08:21
26
4
If there was a Great Ice Bridge connecting Siberia and North America. It is conceivable to think that Native Americans may have been the first to cross into Siberia. This could cause human life to spread from East to West.
If you can think outside the box, then it is possible. At one time scientists found what was called the earliest human remains in Orabi, Arizona, U.S.A. This is where the Hopi People live. Their Legend says that they are the oldest Life form on the Planet.
Larry Scudder, United States.
21/08/2016 06:12
15
11
The last two look like a stela from Chavin de Huantar, Peru
Peter, Slovakia
20/08/2016 18:06
9
1
Same DNA does not mean the flow of immigration went west-to-east. An amazingly common error in academic thinking.
Peter Waksman, Concord MA
20/08/2016 17:18
8
10

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