Despite the historically established reputation of nomads, there has been very little anthropological evidence until recently that violence was common in their communities. A new study, appearing in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology and by a group of anthropologists at the University of Bern and the Russian Academy of Sciences, sheds light on this topic. The work of scientists is dedicated to the eerie discoveries made during excavations on the Tuvan burial mound Tunnug.
The Republic of Tuva in Southern Siberia has a rich archaeological record that traces human settlement since the Paleolithic. The Tunnug mound, excavated in 2017, is one of the earliest royal tombs left in Siberia from the Scythians. In addition to the Early Scythian burial, archaeologists discovered many other graves belonging to representatives of other, later cultures on the periphery of the mound. Recent excavations in Tunnug have revealed a peripheral cemetery of the 2nd-4th centuries AD. e. with skeletal remains of 87 people.
Researchers carried out a detailed analysis of the injuries found on the remains and found that 25% of people died violently. Anthropologists have found traces of stabbing and cutting injuries caused by knives and arrows, and also found signs of scalping and cutting the throat.
As you know, in the first centuries of our era, the entire territory of Southern Siberia experienced a period of political instability. This could not but affect the nature of life and death of people. The violence affected mainly men, but judging by the burial, there were also women with children among its victims. Scientists believe that this is due not only to raids and battles, but, probably, also to specific, still poorly known to us rituals associated with murders and the collection of war spoils.
Thanks to the collected data, the staff of the Institute of Forensic Medicine are now completing the study of the DNA of the bones found in the mound. This will allow scientists to reconstruct the diet, occupation, and genetic makeup of the people buried there.