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News: Siberia
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So far nine burials have been found, but only two opened - and more may be identified. Photo Credit: Alexander Tkachev/The Siberian Times.
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by Archaeology Newsroom

A child burial found in Siberia includes opulent artefacts

An unusual feature for this site and time

Archaeologists working at a burial site on Tazovsky peninsula found the remains of a child buried with various offerings and wearing an elaborate headdress. Nine graves have been discovered at the site overall, but only two have been opened so far. What is special about them is that they are not part of an ancient necropolis nor close to each other, but were located beside rivers and each was at the pinnacle of raised spurs. Some of them are about 100 metres away from each other but others are kilometres away.

The one investigated this season dates to the late 15th or early 16th century, and contains the remains of a child between three and seven. Inside the grave archaeologists found two iron knives, reindeer bones on which the child’s feet were placed and remains of a venison meal.

Last year archaeologists discovered a grave containing the remains of a boy aged 13 or 14, so perhaps the other graves will be of children too. Perhaps they were too young to have been fully initiated into the society at the time, so that is why they were buried alone, away from their clans. Of course, they admit that this is just an assumption that needs to be further investigated.

The surprising about these graves is that these burial grounds do not feature graves of such opulence, said Dr Alexander Tkachev, head of the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography of Tyumen State University. The headgear found this year in the child grave, was “elite”, bearing bronze decorations and iron rings. It was made of fur on the outside and lined with a woollen fabric on the inside.  They also found two knives at the location of the belt. This is unusual for such a little child.

The burials were discovered on the highest points of the spurs on Arctic rivers, and were up to 15 cm deep. The body lay on a layer of birch bark, with pieces sewn together. Archaeologists also found traces of fire, embers and ash on mounds at the graves, probably from a burnt construction of wood or branches.

The burials are from the indigenous Sikhirtya (Siirtya) people, who had arrived from the south about 2,800 years ago. by the mid 17th century they had assimilated with the Nenets people.

The discovery was made by Dr Tkachev, archaeologist Andrey Slushaev from Yekaterinburg, and student Katya Gyurdzhoyan. They will try to reconstruct the elaborate headdress.

NOTES