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This unique stone bracelet dates back 40,000 years and is thought to have been made by a member of the Denisovan species of early humans. Museum of History and Culture of the Peoples of Siberia and the Far East in Novosibirsk. Image credit Vera Salnitskaya

The stone bracelet above was unearthed in the Altai region of Siberia in 2008. After detailed analysis Russian experts now believe its remarkable age of 40,000bce is correct. What is even more extraordinary is that the bracelet was not made by a member of Homo sapiens or Neanderthals but another species of humans known as the Denisovans

It is intricately made with polished green stone and is thought to have adorned a very important woman or child on only special occasions. Yet this is no modern-day fashion accessory and is instead believed to be the oldest stone bracelet in the world, dating to as long ago as 40,000 years. Unearthed in the Altai region of Siberia in 2008, after detailed analysis Russian experts now accept its remarkable age as correct.

New pictures show this ancient piece of jewellery in its full glory with scientists concluding it was made by our prehistoric human ancestors, the Denisovans, and shows them to have been far more advanced than ever realised. ‘The bracelet is stunning – in bright sunlight it reflects the sun rays, at night by the fire it casts a deep shade of green,’ said Anatoly Derevyanko, Director of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Novosibirsk, part of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Full article by Anna Liesowska in The Siberian Times here.

   

 
The Saldyar Valley in the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia were archaeologists have discovered a stunning alfresco gallery of prehistoric art
©
The Siberian Times
 
Will Stewart, writing for the MailOnline, reports on the stunning prehistoric art that has been discovered by archaeologists in the Altai Mountains of Siberia –
 
Archaeologists in Siberia have begun uncovering an extraordinary alfresco gallery of prehistoric art high in the 4,506-metre tall Altai Mountains. While the region is famed for petroglyphs (rock engravings), new finds are being made in the hidden and rarely-visited Saldyar valley, close to the fast-flowing Katun River. Here beneath the densely-wooded slopes they are discovering remarkable rock pictures dating back 5,000 years, close to Russia’s border with China and Mongolia.
 
The Altai Mountains in southern Siberia are one of the great undiscovered tourist destinations, featuring breathtaking lakes and peaks, with many signs of the ancient lost world, such as burial mounds, standing stones and the exhibition of petroglyphs, many from the Bronze and Iron ages. Many of the carvings are found on rocks that form a symbolic rock garden, with the sun’s beams helping to illuminate the artistic work and making them appear similar to photograph negatives. According to Altai legend, the location of these megaliths was a result of the mythical hero Sartaksakpay, who is said to have jokingly changed the direction of the rivers and scattered the mountain valleys with huge rocks.
 
Archaeologists studying the petroglyphs found that the ancient artists had several favourite images, including the Siberian mountain goat, which has always been seen as a symbol of success and good luck as well as being good hunting prey. Another of the most popular images at Saldyar is the long horned bull, a symbol of a bygone era that once roamed in Ancient Egypt, Mycenaean Greece and Central Asia.
 
Full MailOnline article here.
   
 
One of some fifty dolmens still remaining in the Sochi area of Russia
Image credit Lori, Legion Media
 
With the 2014 Winter Olympics beginning next month in Sochi, a city situated on the Black Sea coast of Russia, our readers might be interested in another reason to visit the area. Even without its fifth century bce connections to ancient Greece, Sochi holds a special place in Russian history, and it would be good to know that it is recognised, understood and promoted during the 2014 Olympic Games. Perhaps, too, some of the revenue from the Games could be allocated towards protecting and preserving these wonderful ancient monuments from Russia’s prehistory.
 
Sochi, according to Wikipedia, was –
 
…populated during the Lower Paleolithic more than 100,000 years ago by early humans migrating from Asia Minor through Colchis. They first formed open-type settlements, but during the Middle Paleolithic (100,000–35,000 years ago) moved to caves due to the global cooling. One evidence of that is known as a 40,000–50,000 old site in the Akhshtyrskaya Cave, 15 km from Adlersky City District. The cave is protected by the UNESCO and contains human remains, early tools and bones of bears, deer and other animals indicating the hunting nature of the inhabitants. In the Upper Paleolithic (35,000–10,000 years ago) they have developed techniques of producing elaborated stone tools.
 
The Ancient Greeks sailed to the Sochi area in the fifth–sixth centuries BC and kept visiting it till about first century BC. They encountered the Aehi, Zygii and other people who were apparently keen for the luxury goods brought by Greeks and exchanged them for slaves. Slaves were a major commodity of the time, and thus the Caucasian coast became a slave trade center. An ethnic group of a few thousands of Greeks still lives around Krasnaya Polyana. Between 2,000 and 1,800 BC, the coastal area around Sochi had one cultural entity. During this period, numerous stone monuments (dolmens) were built around Sochi, and at least fifty remain to the present day. It is still unclear how these tombs weighing tens of tons were built with such an accuracy (some stones match each other within millimetres), and what exactly their purpose was. Numerous bronze tools and trade objects, dated to 800–700 BC, were found near Sochi indicating active exchange with the nearby areas.
 
Source Wikipedia. See also the website and picture gallery here.
 

The Sylene stenophylla in bloom: Image credit Institute of Cell Biophysics of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Though somewhat outside the remit of The Heritage Trust, we thought the Sky News’ report yesterday that, “…fruit and seeds hidden in an Ice Age squirrel’s burrow in Siberian permafrost have been resurrected into a flower by Russian scientists” worthy of a mention.

Using a pioneering experiment, the Sylene stenophylla has become the oldest plant ever to be regrown and it is fertile, producing white flowers and viable seeds. The seeds date back 30,000 to 32,000 years and raise hopes that iconic Ice Age mammals like the woolly mammoth could also eventually be resurrected.

The researchers, who published their findings in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the US, said the results prove that permafrost serves a natural depository for ancient life forms. “We consider it essential to continue permafrost studies in search of an ancient genetic pool, that of pre-existing life, which hypothetically has long since vanished from the earth’s surface,” the scientists said in the article. Canadian researchers had earlier regenerated some significantly younger plants from seeds found in burrows.

Svetlana Yashina of the Institute of Cell Biophysics of the Russian Academy Of Sciences, who led the regeneration effort, said the revived plant looked very similar to its modern version, which still grows in the same area in northeastern Siberia. The Russian research team recovered the fruit after investigating dozens of fossil burrows hidden in ice deposits on the right bank of the lower Kolyma River in northeastern Siberia. They were firmly cemented together and often totally filled with ice, making any water infiltration impossible – creating a natural freezing chamber fully isolated from the surface. The burrows were located 125ft (38m) below the present surface in layers containing bones of large mammals, such as mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, bison, horse and deer.

“The squirrels dug the frozen ground to build their burrows, which are about the size of a soccer ball, putting in hay first and then animal fur for a perfect storage chamber,” said Stanislav Gubin, one of the authors of the study, who spent years rummaging through the area for squirrel burrows. “It’s a natural cryobank. If we are lucky, we can find some frozen squirrel tissue,” said Mr Gubin. “And this path could lead us all the way to mammoth.”

Article here.

 

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