Saturday, 5 March 2022

Siberia's Valley of the Kings

The Arzhan-2 Scythian burial is one the most extraordinary discoveries ever made. For the first time faces of the buried couple have been revealed.
A vale north of Turan, Tuva has become famous for its pancake-shaped Scythian kurgany (burial mounds).
Excavations in 2001 unearthed magnificent artifacts dating from 600 BC. Arzhaan I is the largest kurgan in Tuva. A dig in the early 1970s turned up thousands of gold and silver artifacts.
The valley holds an amazing 700 burial sites and eight large kurgany. In addition to 44 pounds of gold, researchers discovered items made of iron, turquoise, amber and wood. The royal tomb Arzhan 2 was excavated in July, 2015 and is about 2,600 years old. The unknown monarch was entombed with 14 horses, a defining symbol of wealth by the Scythian.

Beside him lay his queen and 33 others lie entombed, including five children. They were all likely sacrificed to accompany him on his journey to the afterlife. The burial chamber contained some 9,300 decorative gold pieces ... more than 20 kilograms of gold.

DNA analysis indicated those buried were from the Iranian ethno-linguistic group. Analysis of strontium isotopes in the bones reveal all were locals except for the queen.

The king was about 50 years old and analysis of his remains revealed that he died of prostate cancer. It's thought that in the last years of his life, he would not have been able to walk.