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'I've grown fat, got a tan & now look like a Siberian'
Vladimir Lenin, 1897, in Siberian exile

50,000 year old Siberian bones may be the ‘oldest Homo sapiens' outside Africa and Middle East

By The Siberian Times reporter
21 May 2018

Finds of 'lion-hunting ancient man' excavated from site of new road new Lake Baikal now undergoing tests at Germany’s Max Planck Institute.

The older set of bones found on Tuyana site dated to 50,000 years ago. Picture: Vesti.Irkutsk

If the discovery in Buryatia is verified as being Homo sapiens, it will alter scientific thinking about the arrival of man in Siberia. 

The discovery was made in the Tunkinskaya Valley by Irkutsk scientists in 2016.

Older bones date to 50,000 years ago, younger ones at the same site to around 30,000 years ago, and they were found alongside tools and animal bones indicating these ancients were proficient hunters of cave lions, bison, horses and deer. 

Investigated bones

Two fragment of bones found on Area 2 of Tuyana site. Picture: Evgeniy Rogovskoi

Dr Evgeniy Rogovskoi, senior researcher Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said: ‘The bones were found in 2016 during rescue archeological works near the Buryatian village of Tunka. 

‘Work on constructing a new road was about to start, so archeologists rushed here to see if they could take any material from the site. 

‘The bones were found within half a metre of the surface. 

Human bones

Set of bones found on Area 1 and dated to 30,000 years old. Picture: Evgeniy Rogovskoi

‘We have introduced them to the scientific community only now, two years after the find, because we have been waiting for test results on them. 

‘There were two set of bones, one was dated as 27,000 to 30,000 years old, the other as 50,000 years old.’

The younger bones are ‘modern-type’ humans. 

Tuyana excavations site

Excavations site

Excavations site

‘Work on constructing a new road was about to start, so archeologists rushed here to see if they could take any material from the site. Pictures: Evgeniy Rogovskoi

But the older ones are now undergoing tests to establish whether they are Homo sapiens, or Neanderthal or another pre-human group. 

Researchers say that if they are prehistoric Home sapiens remains, these will be the oldest found in northern Eurasia. 

‘More ancient bones were found (here), but these were not Homo sapiens,’ said Dr Rogovskoi.

A large arsenal of bone knives was found at the site, indicating the owners must have been good hunters.

Animal bones

Animal bones

Animal bones

Excavations at Tuyana archaeological site. Pictures: Vesti.Irkutsk, Evgeniy Rogovskoi

Sharp tools found at the site used semi-precious topaz and rock crystal.

An amulet was made of a cave lion tooth. 

Dr Mikhail Shunkov, the institute’s director, said: 'It is hard to overestimate the importance of the find.

‘During the last several decades, the way experts see development of human evolution in southern Siberia has been changing quite drastically. 

Cave lion claw

An amulet made of a cave lion tooth. Picture: Vesti.Irkutsk

‘The most important question now is when Homo Sapiens appeared in Siberia, and the Tunka valley finds will allow scientists to shed light on it.’

Older Home Sapiens remains have been found in Morocco, dating back 300,000 years, it was announced last year. 

And in a cave in Israel, a jawbone is believed to be of Homo sapiens origin. It has been dated to almost 200,000 years old, twice the age of any previous discovery outside Africa where are species are believed to have originated.

Comments (2)

Looking forward to hearing the results, it is bound to be interesting whatever human group it is.
Keith Tinkler , Canada
30/05/2018 19:15
姚剑申, 巨鹿/中国
25/05/2018 10:55

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