Archaeologists have found the intact burial chamber of a noble woman from a powerful tribe that roamed the Eurasian steppes 2,500 years ago in southern Russia, an official said Tuesday.
The Sarmatians were a group of Persian-speaking tribes that controlled what is now parts of southern Russia, Ukraine and Central Asia from around 500 BC until 400 AD. They were often mentioned by ancient Greek historians and left luxurious tombs with exquisite golden and bronze artifacts that were often looted by gravediggers.
But the burial site found near the the village of Filippovka in the Orenburg region has not been robbed – and contained a giant bronze kettle, jewelry, a silver mirror and what appears to be containers for cosmetics, said history professor Gulnara Obydennova who heads the Institute of History and Legal Education in the city of Ufa.
“The find is really sensational also because the burial vault was intact – the objects and jewelry in it were found the way they had been placed by the ancient nomads,” she told RIA Novosti.
The vault – located 4 meters (13 feet) underground – was found in the “Tsar Tumulus,” a group of two dozen mounds where hundreds of golden and silver figurines of deer, griffins and camels, vessels and weapons have been found since the 1980s.
The woman’s skeleton was still covered with jewelry and decorations, and her left hand held a silver mirror with an ornamented golden handle, Obydennova said.
The descendants of the Sarmatians include Ossetians, an ethnic group living in the Caucasus region, who speak a language related to Persian.
During archeological excavations next to the Russkaya gas compressor station, near Anapa in Southern Russia, the foundations of three Ancient Greek villas that scientists said date from the 2nd and 3d centuries B.C., have been uncovered.
Archeologists found clay pots, fragments of a weaving loom, a pair of scissors and several coins. The villas were part of Gorgippia, a prospering antique city of the Bosporan Kingdom.
The coins minted in another ancient city, Panticapaeum, modern Kerch, enabled to determine the age of the artifacts.
“We have looked in some detail, recorded and photographed the ruins of one of the villas and all the objects found during excavations,” said the General Director of the Archaeology Mission to Rostov, Vladislav Vereshchagin. “We took anything of value with us, for further processing. In the future, these items will be donated to the museum.”
Russkaya is the starting point of the future South Stream pipeline from Russia to Bulgaria. South Stream is scheduled to become operational in 2013. The 900-kilometre-long undersea section of the pipeline will run from the gas compressor facility at Beregovaya, on Russia’s Black Sea coast, near Arkhipo-Osipovka, towards the city of Burgas, in Bulgaria. The sea’s maximum depth on this route is 2,000 meters.
LiveScience’s Owen Jarus reports on an interesting find from the Caucasus … it’s on the periphery of our purview … here’s the incipit:
Hidden in a necropolis situated high in the mountains of the Caucasus in Russia, researchers have discovered the grave of a male warrior laid to rest with gold jewelry, iron chain mail and numerous weapons, including a 36-inch (91 centimeters) iron sword set between his legs.
That is just one amazing find among a wealth of ancient treasures dating back more than 2,000 years that scientists have uncovered there.
Among their finds are two bronze helmets, discovered on the surface of the necropolis. One helmet (found in fragments and restored) has relief carvings of curled sheep horns while the other has ridges, zigzags and other odd shapes.
Although looters had been through the necropolis before, the warrior’s grave appears to have been untouched. The tip of the sword he was buried with points toward his pelvis, and researchers found “a round gold plaque with a polychrome inlay” near the tip, they write in a paper published in the most recent edition of the journal Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia. […]
So we’re talking 2000 years b.p. or so … dare we say these helmets have Roman influence? Probably not, but there’s some interesting comparanda here to both Greek and Roman worlds, I suspect (and this culture is probably one of many lacunae in my repertoire) … also worth checking out is the chain mail that was found.