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Early Bronze Age Graves in Siberia Yield Unique Artifacts

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

NOVOSIBIRSK, RUSSIA—The Siberian Times reports that the skulls of large birds and at least 30 beaks were found in a 5,000-year-old grave in a cemetery belonging to the Odinov Culture in western Siberia. The birds’ species have not been identified by ornithologists yet, but Lilia Kobeleva of the Novosibirsk Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography and her colleagues suspect they were cranes or herons. She said the bird remains were arranged around the deceased as if they had been worn as a collar, headdress, or armor. It is not clear, however, whether the beaks were attached to each other or to a piece of fabric. Two children, aged approximately five and 10, were buried near the so-called “Bird Man.” A man’s skeleton was found under the children’s remains, separated by a wooden overlay. Near his skull, excavators uncovered three bronze items bearing traces of organic material that may have made up a burial mask or a type of head gear. Five polished stone pendants thought to have been used in rituals were found beside him. “Both men must have carried special roles in the society,” Kobeleva said, adding that it is likely they were priests of some kind. To read about another recent discovery in Siberia, go to “Nomadic Chic.”

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