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A. J. Haywood

The Birdman of Siberia: sensational finds in the heart of Russia puzzle scientists

By The Siberian Times
29 May 2019

5,000 years old graves reveal shamans in bird beak ‘collar’ and bronze ‘spectacles’.

The beaks found inside the 5,000yo burial seem to resemble those of a monster in the 2004 psychological thriller movie The Village directed by filmmaker M Night Shyamalan

Two unique burials of the Odinov culture (early Bronze) were unearthed last year at the Ust-Tartas site in Novosibirsk region.

Inside one of them researches found several dozen long beaks and skulls of large birds assembled into something looking like a collar, a head dress, or armour. 

‘Nothing of this kind was ever found as part of Odinov culture in all of Western Siberia’ said researcher Lilia Kobeleva from Novosibirsk Institute of Archeology and Ethnography. 

‘Why do we think this was a part of clothing? The beaks were assembled at the back of the skull, along the neck, as if it was a collar that protected the owner when he lived here.’

Another version is that the beaks - numbered between at least 30 and 50 - were a part of a ritual costume. 

The Birdman of Siberia: sensational finds in the heart of Russia


The Birdman of Siberia: sensational finds in the heart of Russia


The Birdman of Siberia: sensational finds in the heart of Russia


The Birdman of Siberia: sensational finds in the heart of Russia


The Birdman of Siberia: sensational finds in the heart of Russia
5,000 years old graves reveal shamans in bird beak ‘collar’ and bronze ‘spectacles’. Pictures: Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, The Siberian Times


The type of birds will be determined later by ornithologists, but likely they were cranes or herons. 

It is also not clear how the beaks were attached to each other, or to fabric, as the scientists haven’t found mounting holes. 

Months will be spent to separate and study the beaks. 

Like jewellers, Novosibirsk institute’s restorers will have to use the finest instruments and the smallest brushes in order to reveal the full wonder of this ancient creation.

Who was this person that 5,000 years ago wore clothing, or an armour, made of bird beaks? 


 

Close to the ‘BirdMan’ burial the team of archeologists found a double-layered grave with two children aged approximately 5 and 10 buried on top. 

Underneath them, separated with a wooden overlay, lay a skeleton of a grown-up man - and a treasure trove of artefacts. 

The most exciting item looked like a pair of spectacles, consisting of two bronze hemispheres and a bronze bridge. 

It lay right next to the man's skull. 

Traces of organic matter were found inside the hemispheres of the ‘spectacles’.

Experts believe the item could have been part of either a burial mask, or a head gear. 

The Birdman of Siberia: sensational finds in the heart of Russia


The Birdman of Siberia: sensational finds in the heart of Russia


The Birdman of Siberia: sensational finds in the heart of Russia


The Birdman of Siberia: sensational finds in the heart of Russia


The Birdman of Siberia: sensational finds in the heart of Russia

Two unique burials of the Odinov culture (early Bronze) were unearthed last year at the Ust-Tartas site in Novosibirsk region. Pictures: Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, The Siberian Times


Next to the man's left arm and around the waist lay five polished crescent-shaped stone pendants, used for rituals. 

‘These are unique items, we are very excited indeed to have found them,’ said Lidia Kobeleva. 

‘Both men must have carried special roles in the society. 

‘I say so because we have been working on this site for a while and unearthed more than 30 burials. 

'They all had interesting finds, but nothing we found earlier was as impressive as discoveries in these two graves. 

'We suppose both men were some kind of priests.’

The Birdman of Siberia: sensational finds in the heart of Russia


The Birdman of Siberia: sensational finds in the heart of Russia


The Birdman of Siberia: sensational finds in the heart of Russia


The Birdman of Siberia: sensational finds in the heart of Russia


The Birdman of Siberia: sensational finds in the heart of Russia


The Birdman of Siberia: sensational finds in the heart of Russia


The Birdman of Siberia: sensational finds in the heart of Russia


The Birdman of Siberia: sensational finds in the heart of Russia

Bronze 'spectacles' found inside the 5,000 yo burial, and pictures from the Ust-Tartas archeological site in Western Siberia. Pictures: Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, The Siberian Times


The Odinov culture is the beginning of the Bronze Age archeological culture of foot hunters named after the settlement Odino in the basin of lower Ishim river in Western Siberia.

The culture is dated to the 18th to 16th centuries BCE, but may be older. The Odinov culture is an island surrounded by forest-steppe type cultural array.

Its settlements are situated along the terraces of the rivers and creeks. Insufficiently known dwellings appear to be dug-outs. 

It is thought that Odinov culture rose from Eneolithic forest- steppe cultures in the Ishim area. 

Comments (8)

If they are used for sun glasses or snow shields is moot, otherwise they would be found in all the graves as all peoples here would have them. I agree with the ritual significance or it could be something else. When you investigate ancient bronze, jade or ceramic round discs with holes in the middle, you'll note they are all through out China as well, they are all related.
Patti Cook, Sarnia Ontario
06/06/2019 23:04
0
0
Maybe they were worn to stop snow blindness... they would have looked cool when polished with the rest of the wardrobe :o)
John Cunningham, San Lorenzo, California
05/06/2019 06:57
1
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Whats with the random pics from the Village strewn about this article??
Steve, New Zealand
04/06/2019 10:00
3
0
The idea of snow goggles seems good, but to my mind - unless there was also a leather covering over the bronze disks - the apertures are too large to function as useful snow goggles. Someone else cited Inuit examples, but those usually have small slits rather than large round apertures. Also, bronze against the face in icy conditions would risk it being frozen to the skin, which is highly unpleasant, especially around the eyes. I think these probably had ritual significance or functions.
Mags, Cape Town, South Africa
02/06/2019 23:11
7
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Believe I agree with the assessment of goggles (not sunglasses) to prevent snow-glare blindness. Always appreciate these articles from Siberian Times with depth of reporting and a wealth of photos- Thank you
Les, San Diego, Calif
01/06/2019 04:08
5
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Alan, the USSR was 30 years ago and is no more.. 'We suppose both men were some kind of priests.’
Benedikt MORAK, Moscow
01/06/2019 02:09
3
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Could those spectacles not be sunglasses? Similar devices were (and are) used in Canada's North. I'm wondering if the archaeologists are overapplying 'mystical' significance to something which had a purely practical use simply because it is an unusual or uncommon find
Patrick van der Loos, Victoria Canada
31/05/2019 21:39
7
0
Not a single mention of the word shaman. Not surprising when you consider the USSR tried everything to eradicate shamanism in its war against religion.
Alan Byrom, Whitehorse Canada
30/05/2019 04:59
10
12
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