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A.J. Haywood

Stunning Bronze Age statuette with a tattooed face and a bone mask found in Siberia

By Svetlana Skarbo, Anna Liesowska
01 October 2020

The clay figurine was perched on shoulder of a woman laid to rest about 5,000 years ago.

'Given that the discovery is 5,000 years old, you can imagine how important it is to understand the beliefs of the ancient people populating Siberia', said Vyacheslav Molodin. Picture: Novosibirsk Institute of Archeology and Ethnography

The discovery was made this summer inside the mass burial of people from Odinov culture in Vengerovsky district of Novosibirsk region, Western Siberia. 

The small - about a palm size - statuette found in situ by the team of Novosibirsk Institute of Archeology and Ethnography had a mask depicting a bear made of a horse vertebrae.

‘This is without a doubt the find of the season, the find that any world museum from the Hermitage to the Louvre museum would love to exhibit’, said professor Vyacheslav Molodin, head of the Ust-Tartas 2 expedition. 

‘We’ve never come across anything like this, despite our extensive knowledge of the Odinov culture’s burial rites. 

‘The woman must have been an unusual person to have such a figurine ‘escoring’ her to the afterlife’, he said. 

Stunning Bronze Age statuette with a tattooed face and a bone mask found in Siberia


Stunning Bronze Age statuette with a tattooed face and a bone mask found in Siberia


Stunning Bronze Age statuette with a tattooed face and a bone mask found in Siberia
'Interestingly, our anthropologists and genetics found that the Odino people were Mongoloids, yet the face of the figurine had clear Caucasian features. We don’t see the gender of the figurine, which is unusual, and we can’t say if it was dressed’, said Vyacheslav Molodin. Pictures: Novosibirsk Institute of Archeology and Ethnography


The woman was laid to rest on top of a man, lying on her front so that she faced him. 

The two of them were wrapped in a cocoon of birch bark, which was set on fire before the burial. 

The little statuette had a stripe going along its face, which symbolised a tattoo. It was placed on its tummy, and then its head was broken off and turned upside down so that it ‘looked up’ in a ritual yet unseen by Novosibirsk archeologists. 

There was a deepening in the middle of the clay statuette, which had a bronze plate and also some organic substance inside it. Further chemical tests are needed to establish what exactly was placed inside that deepening. 

The bone mask made of a horse vertebrae that covered the statuette’s head depicted a bear’s muzzle, archeologists believe. 

Stunning Bronze Age statuette with a tattooed face and a bone mask found in Siberia


Stunning Bronze Age statuette with a tattooed face and a bone mask found in Siberia
Stunning Bronze Age statuette with a tattooed face and a bone mask found in Siberia. Pictures: Novosibirsk Institute of Archeology and Ethnography


Two more people were buried underneath the man and the woman in the tiered grave, which is quite typical for the Odino culture. 

'Given that the discovery is 5,000 years old, you can imagine how important it is to understand the beliefs of the ancient people populating Siberia. 

'Interestingly, our anthropologists and genetics found that the Odino people were Mongoloids, yet the face of the figurine had clear Caucasian features. We don’t see the gender of the figurine, which is unusual, and we can’t say if it was dressed’, said Vyacheslav Molodin.

The people of Odino culture were cattle breeders, tending to sheep and horses. They were hunters and anglers, too.

Comments (6)

it looks like a toy , but how can these people say that it has clear 'Caucasian features', when there are other people with found faces and round eyes, that are Asian. I think that it has Caucasian features is just wishful thinking in some archeologists parts!
Normandie Kent, Santa Barbara
24/10/2020 07:08
0
0
Theresa, it is normal. It has been long time that races are able to be learned. Especially, finding a causcasian among mongoloid people, from same culture, is important. Because nowadays people in the region emerged from that mixture.
Fırat, Istanbul
15/10/2020 11:44
2
0
“...clear Caucasian features.” Really? You can’t even tell if the figurine is male or female yet, somehow you can perceive that it has Caucasian features. Unbelievable.
Theresa Millis, United States of America
10/10/2020 08:39
6
1
Is it possible the figurine represents a child, perhaps one that died well before this burial and was interred elsewhere?
Glen McGuire, Thornbury, Ontario, Canada
07/10/2020 20:08
2
0
Alexey, if you do not know about tin ores deposites located nearby, it doesn't mean they do not exist. For example - Eastern Kazakhstan, Tyva.
Ksenia, Omsk
04/10/2020 17:47
1
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About the "bronze plate" - what is the tin content in it? There are no tin ores in Russia. The copper technology is also not simple.
So, it looks like ~ 13 century AD, after establishing the trading routes by Tartarian empire.
Alexey, Novosibirsk
04/10/2020 11:16
3
0
1

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