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Holding hands for 5,000 years, a couple with mysterious jade rings and dagger

By Anna Liesowska
13 July 2016

Bronze Age burial near Lake Baikal intrigues archeologists who have not yet revealed contents of leather pouch between man's kneecaps.

The man's skeleton had a ring made of rare white jade over one eye socket. Picture: Dmitry Kichigin

Experts speculation that this ancient couple are an elderly man and his wife or concubine, buried for eternity in a show of affection. There are some unique aspects to the couple who are believed to be from the Bronze Age Glazkov culture.

The man's skeleton had a ring made of rare white jade over one eye socket. Three more were on his chest. Archeologist Dr Dmitry Kichigin said: 'It was probably somehow connected with their ideas about the afterlife.'

Samples of the bone of the couple have been sent to Canada for radiocarbon analysis, but the Russian team involved in the excavations believe the couple to be 4,500 to 5,000 years old. 

Bronze Age couple burial


Bronze Age couple burial


Bronze Age couple burial

The site is a sacred burial place since Neolithic times overlooking the waters of Lake Baikal, the oldest and deepest lake in the world. Pictures: Dmitry Kichigin

'In the grave we found male and female skeletons, lying on their backs, heads to the west, hand in hand,' he said. The site is a sacred burial place since Neolithic times overlooking the waters of Lake Baikal, the oldest and deepest lake in the world.

The male skeleton is complete but rodents destroyed the upper part of the female. Near the woman was a 'massive' knife made of jade, some 13 centimetres in length and 7 cm in width. 

Pendants of red deer and musk deer teeth were found on the male skull, and around the feet. Most likely, they decorated the hat and footwear.

'Were they relatives, or an owner and his concubine?' asked the archeologist. For now the answer is unclear: he would like to conduct DNA tests to check if the pair were related, but this appears to be too expensive.

The burial unearthed this summer is located at a cape on Maloe More, the strait that  separates the mainland and the Olkhon island, close to Chernorud settlement, in some 260 kilometres to north-east of Irkutsk. 

Bronze Age couple burial


Bronze Age couple burial

'It  would be very interesting to find out the purposes the massive jade knife, which we found near the woman, was used for. Pictures: Dmitry Kichigin

The precise location is being kept secret for now to avoid amateur diggers wrecking a site which is likely to contain more burials, possibly older than this one. 

'We were lucky to find at least one skeleton in excellent condition, with implements and decorations - it is the dream of many archaeologists,' said Kichigin. 'It  would be very interesting to find out the purposes the massive jade knife, which we found near the woman, was used for. 

'We also found some metal implement in a small leather bag between male's kneecaps.' Analysis will begin on the finds in the autumn. 

'The cape, where we conducted excavations, was obviously a sacred place for ancient people,' he said. It was not a settlement but used for religious rites and as a graveyard from ancient times.

'We can expect a lot of interesting discoveries on this archaeological site, so we plan to continue our work next year.' 

The archaeological team led by Dr Kichigan is from Irkutsk National Research Technical University, with the assistance of Yuliana Yemelyanova, from the
Laboratory of Archeology, Paleoecology, and Life Support Systems of the Peoples of North Asia.

The burial unearthed this summer is located at a cape on Maloe More, the strait that  separates the mainland and the Olkhon island, close to Chernorud settlement. Picture: The Siberian Times

Map

Comments (18)

awwwww hope they stay intact! They most be living happily on heaven and In my opinion I think they were killed together and their family members left them intact, they are accidental mummies
Franky, U.S
25/10/2016 08:51
1
0
I'll guarantee that Lake Baikal, and the many valleys surrounding it, sheltered many, many paleolithic to neolithic peoples during the last period of glaciation. Having to stay in one spot, basically, instead of hunting and gathering, were possibly the conditions that forced them to learn animal husbandry, basic agriculture and herding large groups of ungulates, including the horse.
Erik Bosma, Mission, BC, Canada
28/08/2016 07:35
1
0
Aah...that''s sweet. You can never part from true love.


PS. Don't separate them now!
Jaker, Dundalk
19/07/2016 00:39
4
0
They may have contact with neolithic culture of northeast China/Inner Mongolia such as the Xinglongwa Culture or the Hongshan Culture (depending on the exact dating of the site), which produced very exquisite jade objects.
JP, London
15/07/2016 20:12
5
0
Nimue, j'ai essayé Google traduction, et là c'est bien mieux que le mot à mot que j'avais utilisé !!!!Donc MERCI !, j'ai pu traduire les 2 messages écrits en Russe..Merci à leur auteur.
Jocelyne, FRANCE
15/07/2016 19:31
2
0
В таежной северной части Бурятии т.е. к востоку от Байкала много нефрита в том числе и белого. Нефритовые гальки находят по берегам рек.
Сергей Кутейников, Волоколамск Россия
15/07/2016 18:45
2
0
Pour Nimue merci .J'avais essayé de traduire en utilisant des sites internet, mais cela ne m'avait pas donné une phrase très cohérente, d'où ma demande. Merci à Alexander .
Jocelyne, FRANCE
15/07/2016 15:41
1
0

Pour Jocelyne en France. Utilise Google traduction. Je l'ai trouvé extrêmement utile.
Nimue, Canada
15/07/2016 05:26
3
0
Jocylene, he said that that woman was killed by this knife
Alexander , Siberian Times ,
15/07/2016 02:12
4
1
Bonjour NHO, I don't speak english very well, but not Russian at all, sorry !..Could somebody help me and translate this answer sentence, post le 14/07/2016 at 18:51 .Thank you in advance.
Jocelyne, FRANCE
15/07/2016 02:06
1
0
Holding hands for 5000 years. GREAT! Lets dig them up!!! Nothing but grave robbers.
marty brooks, Anchorage AK/USA
14/07/2016 21:55
4
9
Jocelyne, небось вот этим самым нефритовым ножом и убили эту женщину.
Ино, США
14/07/2016 18:51
4
0
Interesting find - I don't understand what are objects above the jade knife? If they are bone (?) from what part of body are they?
And about the jade : is there a geologic place of this rock near this burial or was it from commercial or exchange ?.From where come this jade?
Thank you very much .It is a very good job! Please give us other news about..
Jocelyne, FRANCE
14/07/2016 15:57
5
1
The gentleman was Professor at Irkutsk University.

Those ring around his eyes are his glasses.
,
14/07/2016 12:52
5
7
While it looks very romantic the woman was killed to be buried with her dead companion. Is this where the Indian practice of suttee spread to or originated?
L Hall, Comox BC Canada
14/07/2016 08:42
3
2
12

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