Burials of eight male warriors and a female priestess of the era of early nomads were unearthed in Kazakhstan

(ORDO NEWS) — Archaeologists have unearthed three burial mounds from the era of early nomads in the West Kazakhstan region, which contained the remains of ten people who died at the end of the 6th – beginning of the 5th century BC.

The burial rite and accompanying inventory suggested that the graves contained eight male warriors, a teenage girl, and a female priestess.

The clothing complex of the latter, among other things, included a sacrificial table and a wooden box with stones, a bronze mirror and a copper vessel. This is reported in an article published in the journal Archeology of Kazakhstan.

Rich burial complexes and elite burials of early nomads have long attracted the attention of researchers. Not least due to the fact that the funeral rite is the main source for the reconstruction of life, spiritual and material culture, social structure and ideological ideas of nomads, whose settlement complexes are unknown.

One of the regions where a large number of such monuments is concentrated is the Southern Urals. The favorable position of this region contributed to the formation here in the 1st millennium BC of an original culture, about which archaeologists had an ambiguous idea.

Some scientists believe that in the 6th-4th centuries BC there was a Sauromatian culture, which was then replaced by the early Sarmatian (Prokhorovka). Others speak of a single Prokhorov culture.

Yana Lukpanova from the West Kazakhstan Regional Museum of Local History presented the results of excavations of three emergency mounds (5, 13 and 14) of the Urysai-2 burial ground, which were carried out under her supervision last year.

In these structures, damaged as a result of looting and demolition of land, archaeologists discovered a number of burials of the late 6th – early 5th century BC, which contained the remains of ten people.

The plundered kurgan-5 was a mound 1.7 meters high and 30 meters in diameter. He turned out to be the poorest on the finds. During the excavation of the mound, archaeologists discovered animal bones and fragments of a molded vessel.

In the grave pit, over which there was a half-meter layer of calcined soil, the researchers found scattered human bones, which apparently belonged to a man. In addition, along with them lay the remains of a sword, four bronze arrowheads, as well as a fragment of an altar and pieces of iron.

Burials of eight male warriors and a female priestess of the era of early nomads were unearthed in Kazakhstan 2
Drawings of finds from barrow-13: 1 – akinak, on top of which lie the remains of a quiver with arrows; 2 – beads

Kurgan-13 with a diameter of 26 meters and a height of about a meter turned out to be much more valuable for finds. There were two burial pits in its central part, and three more on the periphery. The main burial was looted.

It contained the scattered bones of a man whose skull had been carefully placed on the pelvis and long bones. The remains of a man and a woman were located in the adjacent burial. The first one was buried along with a 38-cm akinak, on top of which lay a quiver with the remains of shafts and 79 bronze tips.

The woman was buried with multi-colored beads, bronze bracelets and a set of items: an iron knife, a tip and, probably, a broken awl.

In the same burial there was a round stone sacrificial table on three legs in the form of a grinning muzzle of a predator (possibly a wolf, whose cult existed among the nomads of the Cis-Urals). In addition, the woman had a wooden box with a lid, which archaeologists removed as a monolith and examined in the laboratory.

It turned out to be a case measuring 30×27×14 centimeters, inside which were stones, a bronze mirror with a handle, and a small copper vessel. Such finds are extremely rare.

According to Lukpanova, the woman who owned these items could well have applied tattoos (some items have paint) or perform priestly functions.

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Sacrificial table on three legs, found in barrow-13

In two peripheral burials of barrow-13, archaeologists found the remains of a male warrior and a teenage girl.

The first was buried along with a quiver set of 32 arrowheads with preserved shafts, a grindstone, an akinak, a knife and two bone objects. The girl’s accompanying inventory included a bronze hryvnia and a molded pot with a side handle.

Kurgan-14 was a mound with a diameter of 19 meters and a height of about 0.6 meters, during the analysis of which archaeologists found a horse skull with elements of a bridle, including distributors of belts and threads made in the animal style.

In the grave pit were the remains of four people. One of them was buried with a dark green stone whorl, an iron knife and a whetstone. The second – together with two whetstones, a bone spoon and an iron arrowhead.

In addition, next to him were two akinaka, more than a hundred bronze arrowheads and two iron knives. The third person was buried with an akinak and a white bead. The remains of the fourth person were disturbed and mixed with the bones of the animal.

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Wooden box, extracted by a monolith from mound-13

The archaeologist concluded that privileged nomads, representatives of the military elite and the priesthood, were buried in the studied mounds. Apparently, the studied remains belonged to eight male warriors, one female priest and a child who lived in the middle of the 1st millennium BC.

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