A farmer who was excavating his land discovered something unexpected: a 2,000-year-old mound containing the remains and artifacts of a nomadic chief, including the strange skull of a “laughing” man.
A chieftain was buried with his head raised as if on a pillow (pictured). It is believed the individual was a high-ranking ‘royal’ of a nomadic society
Stunning gold and silver jewelry, weapons, valuables, and artifacts of everyday life were found next to the chief’s skeleton in a grave near the Caspian Sea in southern Russia.
Rustam Mudayev, a local farmer, made an unusual sound with his shovel, and it turned out that he struck an ancient bronze pot near the village of Nikolskoye in the Astrakhan region.
A farmer digging a pit on his land unearthed 2,000-year-old treasure inside the ancient burial mound of the tomb of a nomadic ‘royal’, along with a ‘laughing’ man (pictured) with an artificially deformed egg-shaped skull. Shaping and elongating the skull in this way was popular on various continents among ancient groupings like the Sarmatians, Alans, Huns and others
The burial is believed to belong to a leader of a Sarmatian nomadic tribe that dominated this part of Russia until the 5th century AD
Pieces of jewellery were found in the burial pit alongside the dead humans and animals and experts believe they were gifts for the dead
The chief’s dagger was buried with him and places alongside his body, between his hand and leg (pictured)
They collected a gold and turquoise belt buckle and the chief’s dagger along with a tiny gold horse’s head which was buried between his legs, and other intricate jewellery
He took it to the Astrakhan Historical Museum for analysis and expert opinion on the find.
“As soon as the snow came off, we organized an expedition to the village,” says museum researcher Georgy Stukalov.
“After examining the burial, we realized that it was a royal mound, one of the places where the ancient nomads buried their nobility.”The burial is believed to belong to a leader of the Sarmatian nomadic tribe that dominated this part of Russia until the 5th century A.D., and other dignitaries of the ancient world, including a “laughing” young man with an artificially deformed egg-shaped skull and excellent teeth that have survived two millennia.
“We’ve been digging for 12 days now and have found many gold ornaments decorated with turquoise and inlays of lapis lazuli and glass,’ Stukalov says.
The most ‘significant’ find is considered to be a male skeleton buried inside a wooden coffin.This chief’s head was elevated, as if he were resting on a pillow, and he was wearing a cloak decorated with gold plaques.
Archaeologists found his collection of knives, goldware, a small mirror and various pots, obviously indicative of his elite status.They collected a belt buckle of gold and turquoise and the chief’s dagger, as well as a tiny gold horse head that was buried between his legs and other intricate jewelry.
Nearby lay a woman with a bronze mirror, who was buried with a sacrificial offering in the form of a whole lamb, as well as various stone objects whose meaning is unclear.
Another burial belonged to an elderly man – his skeleton was broken by an excavator, but buried with him was the head of his horse, whose skull was dressed in an intricate harness richly decorated with silver and bronze.
Another grave was of an elderly man – his skeleton broke by an excavator – but buried with him was the head of his horse, its skull still dressed in an intricate harness richly decorated with silver and bronze
Also found in the mound was the skeleton of a young man with an artificially deformed ovoid skull. This shape was probably “molded” either by repeated bandaging or by “ringing” the head in infancy (archaeologists speculate). Such bandages and rings were worn during the early years of a child’s life to give the skull the desired shape. Shaping and lengthening the skull in this way was popular on various continents among such ancient groups as the Sarmatians, Alans, Huns and others.
It is believed that such deformed heads were a sign of a person’s special status, his noble roots and privileged place in society.
Local farmer Rustam Mudayev’s spade made an unusual noise and it emerged he had struck an ancient bronze pot near his village of Nikolskoye in Astrakhan region
A horse’s head buried on top of the old man’s body still carries an intricate silver and bronze harness which was also uncovered
The farmer took his find to the Astrakhan History museum for analysis and an experts opinion on the find. ‘As soon as the snow melted we organised an expedition to the village,’ said museum’s scientific researcher Georgy Stukalov
‘We have been digging now for 12 days,’ said Mr Stukalov. ‘We have found multiple gold jewellery decorated with turquoise and inserts of lapis lazuli and glass’
A chieftain was buried with his head raised as if on a pillow and wearing a cape adorned with gold plagues
Nearby was a woman with a bronze mirror who had been buried with a sacrificial offering of a whole lamb, along with various stone items, the meaning of which is unclear
The gold jewellery and the buckle (pictured) are thought to be signs of the person’s nobility and would only have been afforded to the most wealthy people
A gold and turquoise horse head was buried between the chief’s’ legs (pictured). The small but valuable find is just one of many important artefacts in the burial pit