понедельник, 1 июля 2019 г.

Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground

Unique necropoli in remote republic of Tuva with more than one hundred undisturbed burials from the Bronze era to the time of Genghis Khan appear eerily from under the water only once a year. The precious archaeological site is located at the bottom of the so-called Sayan Sea, an artificial reservoir created upstream of the Sayano-Shushenskaya Dam, Russia’s biggest power plant.











Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
The archaeological site is located at the bottom of the so-called Sayan Sea
[Credit: RGO/The Siberian Times
]

Scientists can only work here from mid-May to the end of June, with water daily destroying burials made at sea shores, and threatening graves hidden on the reservoir bed. Last year a 2,000-year-old mummified ‘sleeping beauty’ dressed in silk emerged from one of the stone graves.
In this case, the artificial sea — which one day will wipe all traces of this ancient site altogether — has worked as a blessing, as it washed off several layers of soil and revealed a rectangle-shaped stone construction with the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ inside it.


Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground

Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Archaeologists are in a ‘race against time’ to recover treasures
[Credit: RGO/The Siberian Times]

Luckily for archaeologists, the burial had been so well-sealed with a stone lid that first it enabled a process of natural body mummification, and then protected the mummy when the grave was submerged after construction of the dam, on which work started in 1963.


The young woman was laid to rest wearing a silk skirt held by a beaded belt with a precious jet gemstone buckle. There was a rich funeral meal and a pouch of pine nuts prepared for her afterlife, and inside her most intricately-made stylish wooden bag was her Chinese mirror.


Among the young fashionista’s other treasures were turquoise beads used to decorate the belt, a set of much smaller purple beads, fragments of a belt’s ring made of copper alloy and a bone belt buckle with beautiful engraving. There was also an iron knife with a ringed handle.


«This site is a scientific sensation», said Dr Marina Kilunovskaya from the St Petersburg Institute of Material History Culture, who leads the Tuva Archaeological Expedition. «We are incredibly lucky to have found these graves of rich Hun nomads that were not disturbed by robbers. We discovered 110 burials at the Ala-Tey burial site, which is usually 15 metres underwater. Another site which was made at what is now the Sayan Sea shore is getting quickly destroyed by crumbling soil. It is called Terezin, and there we found 32 graves.»











Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
A prehistoric ‘fashionista’ — dressed in silk for the afterlife — has been dubbed
‘Sleeping Beauty’ [Credit: IHMC RAS/The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Another view of the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ [Credit: IHMC RAS/
The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Rectangular-shaped stone construction in burial 21 with the remains of the ‘Sleeping Beauty’
[Credit: Institute for the History of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Some of the wooden artefacts found at the site [Credit: Institute for the History
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Purple beads found in burial 21 [Credit: Sankt-Peterburg TV, Institute for the History
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Charcoal belt buckle found in burial 21 [Credit: Sankt-Peterburg TV, Institute for the History
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]











Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Leather bag found in burial 27 [Credit: Sankt-Peterburg TV, Institute for the History
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Wooden comb found in burial 27 [Credit: Sankt-Peterburg TV, Institute for the History
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Bone belt buckle found in burial 27 [Credit: Sankt-Peterburg TV, Institute for the History
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Bronze mirror from the burial 21 [Credit: Institute for the History
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Bronze mirror from the burial 27 [Credit: Institute for the History
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Human remains and grave goods uncovered in Terezin [Credit: Institute for the History
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]











Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Human remains showing charcoal belt buckle uncovered in Terezin [Credit: Institute for the History 
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Detail of the charcoal belt buckle uncovered in Terezin [Credit: Institute for the History 
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Charcoal belt buckle found in Terezin [Credit: Institute for the History 
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Human remains showing bronze belt buckle uncovered in Ala-Tei [Credit: Institute for the History 
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]










Receding waters of made-made lake in Siberia reveal ancient burial ground
Detail of bronze belt buckle uncovered in Ala-Tei [Credit: Institute for the History 
of Material Culture/The Siberian Times]

Russian archaeologists thought that the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ woman must have been a priestess based on how rich was her burial. Further studies of the finds led them to believe that in fact she was an ancient leather designer, buried with her work instruments — several pieces of leather and tendon threads tacked inside a little bag.


Not far from this ‘Sleeping Beauty’, scientists found the mummy of a Hun weaver, with a wooden spindle packed in a leather bag. Preserved in her burial through thousands of years were sparkling glass beads, two stone pendants and two belt buckets made of bone, one with linear and another one with circular patterns, and a birch bark double cover with holes along its edges.


«Both mummies that were found with fragments of leather, threads and a spindle could have carried a special role in the Hun society», said Dr Kilunovskaya.


«Huns cherished women. It wasn’t a matriarchy, yet women  — mothers and skilled artisans — were treated with great respect. The scientist also explain great attention that was paid to belts found inside the burials. For nomads a belt was an extremely important part of their clothing, indicating wealth and society rank. They didn’t use pockets, so all key elements of day-to-day life had to be hung on belts — which in case of Huns women were intricately decorated.»




Among the other finds were masterpieces of the infamous animal style with female belt buckles depicting scenes of tigers fighting dragons, and beautifully made bronze bulls, horses, camels and snakes.


Other treasures from the underwater necropoli came from China. These were silk, mirrors and coins made during the Han dynasty time (206BC-220 AD) which is described as a golden age in Chinese history and culture.


This summer the work at this Siberian Atlantis will be over by the end of June.


Tuva archaeological 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).


Author: Svetlana Skarbo | Source: The Siberian Times [June 25, 2019]



TANN



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