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Warrior's 3,900 year old suit of bone armour unearthed in Omsk

By Kseniya Lugovskaya
06 September 2014

First pictures of 'unique' Bronze Age warlord's full battle dress may be a 'war trophy'.

'It was more precious than life, because it saved life'. Picture: The Siberian Times

Archeologists are intrigued by the discovery of the complete set of well-preserved bone armour which is seen as having belonged to an 'elite' warrior. The armour was in 'perfect condition' - and in its era was 'more precious than life', say experts.

It was buried separate from its owner and no other examples of such battle dress have been found around Omsk. Analysis is expected to determine its exact age but Siberian archeologists say it dates from 3,900 to 3,500 years ago. 

Nearby archeological finds are from the Krotov culture, lived in forest steppe area of Western Siberia, but this bone armour more closely resembles that of the  Samus-Seyminskaya culture, which originated in the area of the Altai Mountains, some 1,000 km to the south east, and migrated to the Omsk area. The armour could have been a gift, or an exchange, or was perhaps the spoils of war.

Boris Konikov, curator of excavations, said: 'It is unique first of all because such armour was highly valued. It was more precious than life, because it saved life. 

'Secondly, it was found in a settlement, and this has never happened before. There were found separate fragments in burials, like on Rostovka burial ground.'

First pictures of 'unique' Bronze Age warlord's full battle dress may be a 'war trophy'.


First pictures of 'unique' Bronze Age warlord's full battle dress may be a 'war trophy'.


First pictures of 'unique' Bronze Age warlord's full battle dress may be a 'war trophy'.


First pictures of 'unique' Bronze Age warlord's full battle dress may be a 'war trophy'.

'We hope to reconstruct an exact copy'. Pictures of the site, and drawings of what the armour looked like: Polina Volf, Yuri Gerasimov, A.Solovyev

Currently the experts say they do not know which creature's bones were used in making the armour. Found at a depth of 1.5 metres at a site of a sanatorium where there are now plans to build a five star hotel, the armour is now undergoing cleaning and restoration.

'We ourselves can not wait to see it, but at the moment it undergoing restoration, which is a is long, painstaking process. As a result we hope to reconstruct an exact copy', Boris Konikov said. 

Scientist Yury Gerasimov, a research fellow of the Omsk branch of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, said: 'While there is no indication that the place of discovery of the armour was a place of worship, it is very likely. Armour had great material value. There was no sense to dig it in the ground or hide it for a long time - because the fixings and the bones would be ruined.

'Such armour needs constant care. At the moment we can only fantasise - who dug it into the ground and for what purpose. Was it some ritual or sacrifice? We do not know yet.'

Gerasimov, who is engaged in the restoration, said: 'Each armour plate in the ground was divided into many small fragments, which are held only by this ground. The structure was removed from the excavation, in 'monolith' as archaeologists say - namely, intact with the piece of ground, not in separate plates, and taken to the museum. 

'Now we need to clean these small fragments of bone plates, make photographs and sketches of their location, and then glue them in a full plate.'

He is certain that the armour belonged to a 'hero', an 'elite warrior who knew special methods of battle' and would have 'given good protection from weapons that were used at the time - bone and stone arrowheads, bronze knives, spears tipped with bronze, and bronze axes'. 

First pictures of 'unique' Bronze Age warlord's full battle dress may be a 'war trophy'.


First pictures of 'unique' Bronze Age warlord's full battle dress may be a 'war trophy'.


First pictures of 'unique' Bronze Age warlord's full battle dress may be a 'war trophy'.


First pictures of 'unique' Bronze Age warlord's full battle dress may be a 'war trophy'.


First pictures of 'unique' Bronze Age warlord's full battle dress may be a 'war trophy'.

Lots to do - Siberian archeologists have months to assemble parts of the armour together. Pictures: Maria Savilovitch, Yuri Gerasimov

The archeological site where the armour was found includes a complex of monuments belonging to different epochs. There are settlements, burial grounds, and manufacturing sites. Burials have been found here from the  Early Neolithic period to the Middle Ages. 

The site, beside the Irtysh River, is now owned by Popov Omsk Radio Factory which has supported the archeological research.

Konikov, who worked on the site as a researcher for many years and is now a representative of the plant, supervising the excavations, said: 'Our goal is to save the site, to research it and to promote it. 

'We organise excursions for schoolchildren and draw the attention of citizens to this unique site.'

Comments (16)

this is proof of the greatness of old turkish warriors
Selcuk, Mülheim
31/08/2016 21:03
0
2
A fascinating dig indeed!

As to why it was buried I would think it to be some kind of votive offering. We know of many votive offerings from this period in history. It was typically weapons and armor captured from an attacking enemy, that was sacrificed, perhaps to please some Gods. From Scandinavia we know of a variation to this tradition, where even quality weapons were intentionally broken and sacrificed. Sometimes buried along with the bodies of slain enemies in mass graves. "Alken Enge" here in Denmark is a relatively new dig and find in this regard. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that some similar practise was carried out with this incredible bone armor. Thanks for posting.
Lasse E, Denmark
09/11/2014 02:44
3
0
Wow, Siberia is amazing! I had no idea. Wonderful that representatives of the owners of the land are willing to allow the research to continue. It's not always like that in the US. Sometimes we have to dig it out in just weeks and then the site is bulldozed, destroying anything we missed.
Robin, California
18/10/2014 08:47
4
0
Wow, this is very cool find. Keep up...
Bayaraa, Mongolia
23/09/2014 08:08
3
0
Incredible find! Very grateful for the careful work performed. Can't wait to find out more such as what type of bone, how long it took to construct, etc. Thank you for the great and careful work.
Bob, Martinsburg, West Virginia, United States
16/09/2014 02:49
4
1
Fascinating indeed :), AWSOME!!!!!
Dana R, Melbourne, Australia
13/09/2014 18:08
2
0
Fascinating indeed :), AWSOME!!!!!
Dana R, Melbourne, Australia
13/09/2014 18:07
4
0
Incredible, best news in months. With the apparent dissolution of our own civilization, and so many ancient monuments destroyed purposefully, it remains for these startling discoveries to restore the sparks constantly damped by world events. This is so stunning and I have no doubt, that the cleaning, restoration, and recreation of this unparalleled object will be documented so all can share in this discovery. Despite the differences and alliances between politics/finance/military, the Russians have always proven to be first rate scientists. Such discoveries should be headlines, these are what seize the awe, without which, you are not a whole person. Archaeology reveals the layers like mica that went before us. We are assured that the ancients had far more achievements that have yet to be discovered. Congratulations and thank you.
miriamgreen antiquarian, clinton, connecticut USA
13/09/2014 02:55
9
0
What a tremendous find! Kudos to the team of men and women who are taking such marvelous care with this fragile discovery. Once again, we see an example of craftsmanship from the past that proves that 'primative' does not mean 'stupid.'
Suzanne Barnes, Tucson, Arizona, USA
09/09/2014 20:12
29
1
Amazing finding! Hope to hear updates. Our family's ancestry is of this area.
Very interested in all can be found.
lewis bogie, new albany/America
09/09/2014 03:32
10
5
Wonderful find! Please report when you discover more... What animals bones were used, and under what circumstances did someone bury such a prized possession.
Rebecca , Texas, USA
09/09/2014 01:43
12
1
Wonder full work
mairaj saifi, India meerut
09/09/2014 00:55
7
2
What an awesome discovery, absolutely fascinating
Simon Waters, Newport south wales
08/09/2014 20:43
12
2
Adds yet another one of many thousands attractions that Siberia has to offer. A significant find that will interest many from all parts of the world. Omsk is a unique thriving small City not far from the third largest russian City Novosibirsk, pop 1.5 million people, aka the capital City of Siberia.
Tomsk the City of Universities is a definite must see for all those worldly intellects and is also easy accessible.
Time will be your only concern as it seems to race faster here in Siberia than anywhere else in the world,So much to see and always so little time , BUT worth it .
Patrick.
Patrick Travers, Perth Australia
07/09/2014 23:18
18
2
Good you found this! Adds something extra to your great cultural history! Keep up the good work.
Rudike, Meeuwen, The Netherlands
07/09/2014 00:12
14
1
12

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