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2,000 year old warrior armour made of reindeer antlers found on the Arctic Circle

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16 March 2017


'The ornamentation on the plates can be individual, that is after the through analysis we could say how many warriors left armour here.' Picture: Andrey Gusev 

The discovery is the oldest evidence of armour found in the north of western Siberia, and was located at the rich Ust-Polui site, dating to between the 1st century BC and the 1st century AD.

Earlier discoveries at the site indicate a bear cult among these ancient people. 

Archeologist Andrey Gusev, from the Scientific Research Centre of the Arctic in Salekhard, said the plates of armour found at the site are all made from reindeer antlers. 

Armor plate Armor plate

Armor plate

'The largest were 23-25 centimetres in length (pictured upper left). Others are 12-14 centimetres in length, thinner and richly ornamented (pictured upper right and bottom).' Pictures: Andrey Gusev 

'There are about 30 plates in the collection of Ust-Polui,' he said. 'They differ regarding the degree of preservation,  as well as the size, location of mounting holes, and the presence or absence of ornamentation.'

The largest were 23-25 centimetres in length. In ancient times, they would have been fixed to a leather base and offered a reliable means of protection.

Others are 12-14 centimetres in length, thinner and richly ornamented. 

Armor plates

Armor plates

Armor plates

'I'm writing still under the impression, as I've just seen these things. This is literally a world scale discovery'. Picture: Bear ring, bronze, finding of 2013, by Andrey Gusev 

'The ornamentation on the plates can be individual, that is after the through analysis we could say how many warriors left armour here, judging by the style of decorations.'  

Other conical shaped armour is seen as plates on helmets worn by the ancient warriors. 'In the taiga zone of Western Siberia, finds of real iron helmets were extremely rare,' he said. 'But in the middle of the first millennium AD, bronze images appeared of people wearing headdresses clearly resembling helmets.

'A likely explanation may be a long tradition of making antler helmets.' 

Kulai armor

According to Gusev Yamal armor resembled the design used by Kulai peole. Picture: Alexander Soloviev

Gusev said the armour resembled the warrior picture here, which relates to designs used by the Kualai people, hunters and fishermen native to the taiga.

He believes the armour was deliberately left at Ust-Polui, an ancient sacred place, as a gift or sacrifice to the gods.

As previously revealed by The Siberian Times, a 2,000 year old ring found at the same site is seen as proof of a bear cult among these ancient polar people who left no written records.

Made of high quality bronze, this ancient Arctic jewellery features an image of a bear's head and paws. 'The ring is tiny in diameter so even a young girl, let alone a woman, cannot wear it,' he said. 'We concluded that it was used in a ritual connected with a bear cult and was put on the bear claw.'


Bear ring

Bear ring

A 2,000 year old ring found at the same site is seen as proof of a bear cult among these ancient polar people who left no written records. Pictures: Andrey Gusev 

The theory is that the ring was fitted to the claw of a slain bear, an animal worshipped by ancient Khanty tribes as an ancestor and a sacred animal. 'After killing the bear they had a bear festival to honour the animal's memory. The head and front paws a bear was adorned with a handkerchief, rings, and a few days lying in the house. 

'This combination of images on the ring and the fact that it was found in the sanctuary of Ust-Polui led us to believe that there was also practiced a bear cult.'

Comments (5)

That's really interesting. Wondering what else will be found there!
Opal Shirai, California, United States
15/05/2017 13:57
jose, argentina
06/04/2017 23:17
When I was in field school in Michigan in 1979, we found evidence of a bear cult at a Woodland site there.
Nance, Albuquerque, NM
26/03/2017 00:28
the ring looks like some gold Bronze Age hair wrap that I've seen.
perhaps even like the
Gold hair tresses of The Amesbury Archer
jason, brooklyn, NY
19/03/2017 05:55
There is a native Canadian Indian reserve about 6 miles outside Lillooet B.C. going West on Hwy. 40 ( along the Bridge Rive ) commonly called 6 mile reserve or Bridge River Indian Band, It is owned and populated by these indigenous people. Their tribe ( Clan ) have the distinction of being of the bear clam and do respect , worship and pay homage to the bear in this area. Their is archeological digs and studies conducted their on their lands ..directly above their homes there ....There are other such archeological sites beside the Frazer river which is also their land...these sites are not far away maybe 8-10 miles... Carbon dating goes back 7,000 + Years Sources; (1); .......... (2);
Albert Magliocco, Vancouver B.C.Canada
18/03/2017 02:58

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