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Unique 5,000 year old figurine with feather headdress found in old potato field in Novosibirsk

By 0 and 0 and 0
20 October 2017


Dr Natalia Basova holds a figurine with a feather headdress. Picture: Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography SB RAS

The finds were made on a pre-historic burial site Turist-2 close to the east bank of the Ob River in Novosibirsk. 

The most sensational is a figurine made of an as yet unknown organic material featuring what appears to be a feather headdress.

Or could it be a halo atop the head of a deity?

Researchers will now work hard to decipher the meaning of this intriguing relic. 



On the place of an old potato field were found Neolithic and late Bronze Age settlements, Bronze Age burial site and a single burial of Turkic time. Pictures: Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography SB RAS,

Feather headgear is not familiar in archeological sites in ancient Siberia - although they were in the Middle East perhaps one or two thousand years later - and leading Archeologist Vyacheslav Molodin has called this and other finds 'absolutely unique'

Head of the expedition, Dr Natalia Basova, outlined other unexpected finds. 

'We found a figurine of a bird made of bone, and most likely it was sewn onto clothes or was a kind of pendant,' she said. 

'There were four anthropomorphic figurines, made of mammoth tusk, sandstone, birch burl and an unknown organic material, which needs to be checked. 

Figurine in situ

Feather headgear

The figurine was made of an as yet unknown organic material. Pictures: Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography SB RAS

'The anthropomorphic figurines were most likely sewn onto clothes as they have holes.

'There is also a figurine of a moose, made of shale, but we are not sure if we can attribute it clearly. 

'We found the figurine in the wall of an excavation hole, not in a burial.'

This figurine is now restored and was probably used for 'ritual purposes', she said.

In male burials, archeologists uncovered belt buckles made of bone and small sculptures, including anthropomorphic.

Ivory figurine

Anthropomorphic figurine made of mammoth tusk. Picture: Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography SB RAS

The preliminary dating of the site is up to the end of the third millennium BC, but stone implements were found from the Neolithic Age, possibly as old as the fourth millennium BC.

Found too was a  late Bronze age settlement of Irmen culture and medieval burial from Turkik times.

The main ancient burial ground is probably from the Krotovo culture from the middle Bronze Age but the experts want more time to assess. 

The finds are likely to find their way to Russia's premier museum, the St Petersburg Hermitage .

Professor Molodin said of the figurines:  'The finds are absolutely unique. This is most likely the third millennium BC. 

Bird figurine

Figurine of a bird made of bone, most likely it was sewn onto clothes or was a kind of pendant. Picture: Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography SB RAS

'According to the iconography of images, they are similar to the Okunev or Samus culture. 

'But the first did not reach our territories, and the second has a completely different funeral rite. 

'By funeral practice,this is without a doubt is Krotovo culture.

There are no parallels  to the objects that have been found. 

'They are absolutely stunning and, without exaggeration, worthy of the St Petersburg Hermitage Museum. 




'By funeral practice,this is without a doubt is Krotovo culture.' Pictures: Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography SB RAS

'I am sure that experts will examine  them more than once.' 

The excavations are more complex because the natural layering of the soil was disturbed by a giant wave that washed over the site - called Tourist-2, some 4,000 years ago. This was caused by an earthquake, say geologists.

In more modern times it was a potato field before soil was removed to 'beautify the city'.

The debris from construction sites was dumped here. The river was also dredged and the silt put on this site. 

Comments (13)

Kukulkan. Quetzalcoatl.
Raul, Nicaragua
04/09/2020 09:15
Anunnaki, the picture of the bird figure reminds me of the Anunnaki of Mesopotamia
Maxwell Howard , Essex USA
19/05/2020 04:37
Картофельное поле тут было, и яблоневый сад при водоочистительной станции, в котором мы пекли на углях картошку с того поля, прямо как 5000 лет назад.
Владимир, Новосибирск
17/01/2019 17:16
They are other feathered heads in Siberia - in OKUNEV CULTURE; more to the south but still.
Gabriela, United Kingdom
29/10/2017 06:37
@Victoria Reyes : in more recent times it was a potato field, it is not an ancient potato field. That is its more recent usage
Emilian , Buc
27/10/2017 14:51
I am curious about the type of potato that grew in this field 5000 years ago. I was taught that potatoes were a new world crop which developed in South America around this same time.
Victoria Reyes, Austin Texas
27/10/2017 09:13
It looks very like the Chieftain headress of traditional American Indians to me. Could it be the people who made this were the for-runners of the American Indian people, as the traditional dancers of Kamchatka give every appearance of also being.
Isabella, Cuenca Ecuador
26/10/2017 20:55
Amazing and tantalizing.Could it rather to be a human figure with a birds head? I seem to recognize a narrow body with arms by the side and splitting in two legs below. It would fit in with traditions in many other ancient cultures.
E.Baumgarte, Nijmegen, Netherlands
26/10/2017 16:35
Thank you for the updates - it is important to learn something new every day. I appreciate you site! v/r Gordon
Gordon P , San Diego, CA
26/10/2017 13:32
Looks like one of my ancestors. The style the same, too much. The close-up clearly shows two arms and two legs corresponding to a human, no horse there.
Andres Suarez, Mexico
25/10/2017 05:08
First thought when I saw it was a horse. I personally don't see a bird or feathers in the piece.
DR Hyatt, Colorado, USA
25/10/2017 01:43
Could this "figure with feathers" be a "Przewalski's horse" and ancient wild Siberian breed with a stiff crested mane much like a zebra's mane. It is hard to see the fine details of the piece but it looks like a horse to me.
R.D. Brown, California, USA
24/10/2017 10:52
Когда-то на севере Сибири существовала империя тольтеков. Историю империи, ее гибель и исход тольтеков в Америку описал мексиканский историк Иштлильшочитль.
сергей, Владивосток Россия
24/10/2017 06:09

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