Last week, Ancient Origins reported on the fascinating discovery of a golden treasure left by the ancient Saka people in a ʙᴜʀɪᴀʟ mound in Kazakhstan. It was called one of the most significant finds in helping archaeologists unravel the history of the ancient Scythian sub-group. Now, archaeologists have found the missing element of the Saka ʙᴜʀɪᴀʟ mound – a ‘golden man’.
According to Archaeology News Network , the mummy of a Saka man who died in the 8th-7th centuries BC was found in the Yeleke Sazy ʙᴜʀɪᴀʟ mound in the remote Tarbagatai Mountains of eastern Kazakhstan. He died when he was just 17 or 18 years old and it is estimated he was 165-170 centimeters (5.4-5.6 ft.) tall.
That fits in well with the previous discovery of 3000 golden artifacts in the kurgan (burial mound). Archaeologists have unearthed plates, necklaces with precious stones, earrings, beautifully crafted figurines of animals, and golden beads which may have been used to embellish Saka clothing.
The find also corresponds with the belief that elite members of the culture were laid to rest in the Saka ʙᴜʀɪᴀʟ mound. As Yegor Kitov, an anthropologist at Moscow’s Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, said, “The finds and the size of the mound suggest that the young man buried inside had a high social status.” Kitov also suggests “The body was mummified to allow time for those coming from far away to say farewell to the man,” further exemplifying the man’s social status in his time.
The ʙᴜʀɪᴀʟ mound which held the man’s remains was created by members of the Saka culture. This was a Scythian nomadic group who spoke an Iranian language and lived on the Eurasian Steppe. The Saka are best remembered as skilled horsemen and metalworkers. Danial Akhmentov, head of the East Kazakhstan regional administration, notes the craftsmanship of the Saka in the recently ʀᴇvᴇᴀʟᴇᴅ treasures from the ʙᴜʀɪᴀʟ mound, “The finds indicate the high level of тᴇcнɴoʟoԍιcᴀʟ development in gold jewelry production in the 8th century B.C., which, in turn, suggests the high level of civilization at that time,” he said .
The Saka are known to have buried members of the elite in their kurgans, usually in pairs or as a family unit. That means that there may still be other skeletons inside the Yeleke Sazy ʙᴜʀɪᴀʟ mound. There are still more plans to excavate in the area because estimates suggest that there may be 200 ʙᴜʀɪᴀʟ sites in varying states of conservation nearby. Unfortunately, it is believed that looting has been an issue in at least some of the kurgans.
Akhmetov said that the discovery of the ʙᴜʀɪᴀʟ mound “shows that the people of Kazakhstan are descended from a great culture” and “gives us a completely different view of the history of our people.”