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Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva

By The Siberian Times reporter
08 September 2019

Ancient Xiongnu-era woman took stylish accessory to the afterlife.

'This site is a scientific sensation', said Dr Marina Kilunovskaya from the St Petersburg Institute of Material History Culture, who leads the Tuva Archeological Expedition. Picture: 

HMC RAS/Pavel Leus

To archeologist Pavel Leus the striking new find resembled a modern smartphone. 

The black rectangular object was located in a burial site known as ‘The Russian Atlantis’ in mountainous Republic of Tuva, for it only appears from under water for few weeks a year.

Archeologists jokingly nicknamed the ancient female Natasha, while her accessory was called ‘an iPhone’. 

'‘Natasha’s’ burial with a Xiongnu-era iPhone remains one of the most interesting at this burial site,' Pavel Leus said in a new publication summarising results of several years of recent archeological expeditions to the Ala-Tey burial site. 

In fact, the discovery is a large - 18cm by 9cm - chic belt buckle made of gemstone jet with inlaid decorations of turquoise, carnelian and mother-of-pearl. 

The woman’s belt was decorated with Chinese wuzhu coins which helped the scientists to date it. 

They believe it might be up to 2,137 years old because this is when such coins were first minted. 

Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva


Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva


Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva
Burial AT 1/29 and a stunning find which archeologists jokingly named 'Natasha's iPhone'. Pictures: HMC RAS/Pavel Leus


The find was made in 2016 at the Ala-Tey necropolis in the Sayan Sea.

This is a giant manmade reservoir on the Yenisei River upstream of the Sayano-Shushenskaya Dam, Russia’s biggest power plant. 

The water drains in May and June each year exposing the vast desert-like floor. 

Graves have been found here dating from the Bronze Age to the time of Genghis Khan.

Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva


Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva


Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva


Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva


Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva
Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva. Pictures: HMC RAS/Pavel Leus


Earlier two partly-mummified prehistoric fashionistas, buried with the tools of their trade were unearthed. 

One called ‘Sleeping Beauty’ - dressed in silk for the afterlife - was at first believed to be a priestess. Now she is thought to have been a leather designer.

The second was a weaver laid to rest with her wooden spindle packed inside a sewing bag.

As many as 110 burials appeared on an island in the reservoir at Ala-Tey site. 

'This site is a scientific sensation', said Dr Marina Kilunovskaya from the St Petersburg Institute of Material History Culture, who leads the Tuva Archeological Expedition. 

'We are incredibly lucky to have found these burials of rich nomads that were not disturbed by (ancient) grave robbers.'

Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva


Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva


Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva


Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva


Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva


Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva

Earlier the so-called 'Sleeping beauty' in silk clothes was found at the site. Pictures show Ala-Tey site before and after it goes under water for most of the year, and Terezin site. Pictures: HMC RAS/Pavel Leus


Pavel Leus is from the Society for the Exploration of EurAsia.

Tuva archeological rescue expedition in flooded areas is possible thank to a grant from the Russian Geographical Society, and help from Society for the Exploration of EurAsia (Switzerland).

Burial AT 1/29 and a stunning find which archeologists jokingly named 'Natasha's iPhone'. Video: Pavel Leus


Comments (19)

Central Asians invented smart phone design: 18-pixel 2-color display; Low (manual) refresh rate. Supported all cellular and Wifi standards of its time. Sturdy case with belt attachment.
someyocal, faraway
13/09/2019 22:36
4
1
She looks like she was buried holding a baby, the way her arms are positioned and her face tilted down
Lauren, UK
13/09/2019 13:31
0
0
Ancient European graves were found in the Gobi Desert region of what is now China..

Until there's some DNA investigation done on the remains it's completely unknown whether these people were of Chinese ancestry, Turkic European or anyone else
Drako, Sydney Australia
13/09/2019 13:29
2
0
A wonderful find. Nice to know these women were identified by their craft and belongings. Respect is shown by the way they were adorned and their burials. I also appreciate the photographs showing the country side. Sometimes it is difficult to understand when all that is shown are the bones.
Karen Bennick, Oceanside, CA USAGE
13/09/2019 09:19
3
0
It's a magical object. It represents the universe, our universe, with the sky included.



People these days doesn't believe in anything, but ten people were strong believers, and maybe it had some magic before, who knows. It's a kind of an universal map anyway, to guide her in the afterlife.
Doroku, France
13/09/2019 08:46
3
0
Why are you calling me a moron? Just because the truth hurts? Why are you people trying to hide the truth? All the Turkic peoples (Tuvans, Kazakhs, Kırgızs, Kipchakhs, Oghuzs etc etc.) have been descended from Xiognu Empire (aka Huns) and this woman belongs to that era. Just do some research about Ashina Clan. Ashina legend is told in Chinese resources from that era. You can't hide the truth. We Turkic people have migrated from Siberia even North of Tuva to Great Steppes, Iran, Caucasia and Anatolia. We're all brothers and sisters. Even with only Anatolian Turkish I can understrand many Tuvan words for example numbers have stayed the same. Just because Russian State has been westernized and is technologically advanced doesn't mean they can change or insult other people's cultures. It's unethical. Have a nice day.
Nayman, Turkey
12/09/2019 17:35
2
3
As a Chinese am I, I'd like to see that there Chinese history coin “五铢”, Xiongnu and Han were all gone, but we are there descendants.
姚剑申, 巨鹿/中国
10/09/2019 23:10
2
2
What makes it more iPhone-like than any other smartphone-like?????


Another commercial to advertise Apple over anything else.


I saw videos saying iPhones are addictive. And other brands aren't or what???
Attila, Gateshead
10/09/2019 21:44
3
0
Why is not there the backside of the object in any photos?
wise, Turkish USA
10/09/2019 17:01
8
0
The place doesn't look ever been under water. Nor the bones covered with salts as usually are after staying a wile under water. How and why the water level of the lake could rise covering the site? T
Alex Bacall, Ro.
10/09/2019 06:25
1
1
Why don't we let them rest in peace, what if someone digged the tomb of your grandma...
James, Berkely, USA
10/09/2019 01:24
7
8
This is big story. I really like it and found it quite interesting.
Lájoš Merášoš, Ula Magula Kazachstan
10/09/2019 00:33
1
0
Nayman, Turkey
Dont be moron.
Naiman, Turkey
09/09/2019 21:03
0
5
The most interesting aspect of the belt buckle is its minimalist geometric design, which leads to its comparison with an iphone. I would like to hear how an art historian places this artifact in context. Are there any other similar examples of this style to be associated with this time and culture? To me, it seems totally unique.
Edward Jones, West Midlands UK
09/09/2019 14:38
11
1
Why is her named Natasha? It's an insult to our ancestors. Turkic countries should have an scientific commission for such scientific advances. It's a shame that Russian scientists name a Hun woman Natasha.
Nayman, Turkey
09/09/2019 13:34
9
22
12

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