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posted by Fnord666 on Friday January 12 2018, @09:10PM   Printer-friendly
from the digging-up-the-past dept.

Deep in a swamp in the Russian republic of Tuva, SNSF-funded archaeologist Gino Caspari has discovered an undisturbed Scythian burial mound. All the evidence suggests that this is not only the largest Scythian princely tomb in South Siberia, but also the earliest -- and that it may be harbouring some outstandingly well-preserved treasures.

Gino Caspari made the most significant find in his career to date not with a shovel, but at a computer. A recipient of Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) funding, archaeologist Caspari discovered a circular structure on high-resolution satellite images of the Uyuk River valley (Siberia) on his computer screen. An initial trial dig carried out this summer by the Bern University scientist together with the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Hermitage Museum confirmed his suspicion: the structure is a kurgan, a Scythian princely tomb.

[...] Wooden beams found by Caspari during the test excavation date back to the 9th century BC, predating Arzhan 1, which was built at the turn of the 9th to the 8th century BC and excavated in the 1970s. "We have a great opportunity here," says a delighted Caspari, commenting on the results of the trial dig published in the current issue of Archaeological Research in Asia (*).

[...] The climatic characteristics of the Siberian soil add to Caspari's hopes. In the Uyuk Valley, the permafrost layer largely begins just a few metres below the surface. Everything above that thaws in summer, and organic material rots. However, beneath the thick stone packing of the kurgans, the rays of sunlight are unable to thaw out the soil. "Very rarely ice lenses form directly beneath the kurgans," explains Caspari. The ice prevents the decay of organic matter and preserves sensitive material. Caspari is expecting further finds to be unearthed in the course of the project: "If we're lucky, we might even find some well-preserved wood carvings or carpets under the stones, or perhaps an ice mummy."

Gino Caspari, Timur Sadykov, Jegor Blochin, Irka Hajdas. Tunnug 1 (Arzhan 0) – an early Scythian kurgan in Tuva Republic, Russia. Archaeological Research in Asia, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.ara.2017.11.001


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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by frojack on Friday January 12 2018, @09:53PM (3 children)

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 12 2018, @09:53PM (#621577) Journal

    This was a preliminary investigation, and they apparently did not dig too deep.

    Tractors https://explorers.org/flag_reports/TEC_2017_Flag._Report._Gino_Caspari__The_Rise_of_Horseback_Warrior_Nomads_-_Excavation_Project_in_Tuva_Flag_134__Aug._2017.pdf

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by MostCynical on Friday January 12 2018, @09:56PM (4 children)

    by MostCynical (2589) on Friday January 12 2018, @09:56PM (#621579)

    Scythians were nomadic Iranians on horseback, eventually absorbed by the Slavic population.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scythian [wikipedia.org]

    Pre-Islamic, Mostly europid, some redheads.
    Likely smelled a bit, but they can leave that out of the movies.

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    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday January 12 2018, @10:00PM (1 child)

      by takyon (881) Subscriber Badge <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Friday January 12 2018, @10:00PM (#621580) Journal

      Not in theaters equipped with Smell-o-Vision.

      It seems they really liked working with gold.

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      • (Score: 1) by Goghit on Saturday January 13 2018, @07:25PM

        by Goghit (6530) on Saturday January 13 2018, @07:25PM (#621911)

        They also appeared to have smoked the Devil's Weed as well as using it for fibre. Xenophon's greeks were dismissive of related groups with similar habits. The opinion that barbarians smoke pot while civilized people get pissed goes back at least 3,200 years.

        One of these days I'm going to get a Scythian armband design tatooed on my bicep.

    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Friday January 12 2018, @10:33PM

      by c0lo (156) on Friday January 12 2018, @10:33PM (#621585)

      Conan - the governator edition.

    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @10:48PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @10:48PM (#621589)

      They eventually evolved into Scizorians, and gained steel in exchange for flying type.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @11:09PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @11:09PM (#621597)

    Scythians, Sogdians, Turks, Mongols, Tatars, Manchus, Avars, Magyars...

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by The Mighty Buzzard on Friday January 12 2018, @11:41PM (1 child)

    The Earliest Tomb Of A Scythian Prince

    I dunno about you guys but I'm of the opinion that having more than one tomb per person is just showing off.

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    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @11:55PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @11:55PM (#621619)

      Are you saying there can be only one?

  • (Score: 2) by Hawkwind on Saturday January 13 2018, @01:53AM

    by Hawkwind (3531) on Saturday January 13 2018, @01:53AM (#621639)

    Somewhat related, there's a documentary about French-Mongolian efforts to excavate Scythian burials: The Frozen Tombs of Mongolia [youtube.com]. It's interesting to see how they have to battle the perma frost to get to the burials.

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