Russia, country that stretches over a vast expanse of eastern Europe and northern Asia, its territory keeps a lot of secrets.
There are many mysterious megaliths, stone circles and other prehistoric artifacts scattered across Russia which may unveil the evidence of advanced ancient, lost civilizations that once inhabited this land.
These 10 amazing discoveries made by Russian archeologists have been major contributions to mankind’s scientific and cultural heritage. Ranging from the world’s oldest wooden sculpture to the prehistoric Venus-like statuette these significant findings may change our view of entire history.
1 – Prehistoric Camel Painting
A prehistoric cave painting depicting a striking two-humped camel has been uncovered in a Russian cavern famous for its ancient murals. The discovery raises questions about the migration patterns of prehistoric humans.
The image, said to date back between 14,500 to 37,700 years, was found in the Kapova Cave, part of the Southern Urals mountain range, by renowned restoration scientist Eudald Guillamet. Located in Russia’s Bashkir Ural territory, the limestone grotto is almost a natural museum to Paleolithic art with more than 150 examples of ancient depictions.
Archaeologists from Moscow State University will continue analyzing the artwork next month to figure out if it holds any more clues to the past.
2 – The Shigir Idol
Considered one of Russia’s greatest treasures, the Shigir Idol was carved around 11,000 years ago in the Mesolithic period. This is the world’s most ancient wooden sculpture, made 6,000 years before Stonehenge and the pyramids at Giza. The idol was found in 1890 when archeologists dug on the eastern slope of the mid Ural region, about 100 kilometers from Yekaterinburg.
Discovered at a depth of four meters in the Shigir peat bog (hence the name), the idol was found in pieces made of Siberian larch. Even in 1914, scholars attempted to reconstruct the idol and return its original appearance to a height of 5.3 meters.
Unfortunately, the sculpture’s lower part was lost during the period of the Russian Civil War (1918-21). Decorated with ornament and carved faces, the idol today is 2.8 meters high, and is displayed at the Sverdlovsk Regional Lore Museum in Yekaterinburg.
3 – Great Wall Of Siberia
The wall complex founded by group of Russian archeologists is believed to date from a long era that also saw such constructions as the Great Wall of China and Hadrian’s Wall.
Scientists proposed that giant ramparts, compared in significance to Hadrian’s Wall, guarded the Altai Mountains against attack from the steppes to the north and were built by an unknown civilisation.
Standing up to 26ft tall, and 33ft wide, the impressive fortifications are now overgrown with grass and trees and barely visible to the naked eye. Researchers attempted to identify the ancient wall complex from satellite images, but extra excavation works required for better results.
While it is so far unclear which pre-historic Siberian group constructed the ramparts, the Altai Mountains are known to have been a centre of civilisation several thousands years ago, which perhaps explains the need for strong defences. Russian researchers group suggests the constructions can be dated back to the first millennium BC.
4 – Stone Labyrinths of the Kola Peninsula
Mysterious stone labyrinths on the Kola Peninsula in northwest Russia considered as archeological monuments date back to 2,000 B.C., meaning that they are older than the Egyptian pyramids. Traditional science links the labyrinths to northern peoples’ religious outlooks. However, one of Russia’s most well known researchers of anomalous phenomena, Vadim Chernobrov, the director of Kosmopoisk, is convinced that the stone patterns served as landmarks for ancient mariners.
The ancient builders chose a perfectly round peninsula for the labyrinths. The stone roads are now almost completely covered with grass and moss. There is a plaque declaring that the archeological monument dates back to 2,000 B.C., the only reminder of the site’s place in antiquity.
These types of labyrinths, or Babylons, as scientists call them, are also found on the coasts of the White Sea and the Barents Sea, in Scandinavian countries and on the British islands. It is still not clear why they were built and scientists are divided on the issue. Some think that the labyrinths were used in shamanistic rituals, while others are convinced of Babylons’ utilitarian nature: they could have been traps for fish or orientation points for seafarers.
The stone labyrinth remains one of the most mysterious symbols found on Earth – thousands of years ago, it appeared more than 4000 years ago on most inhabited continents in the world – why? Despite numerous theories, archaeologists and historians have not come to any agreement about why they were built and what their purpose was.
5 – Princess of Ukok
The so-called Princess of Ukok was discovered in 1993 in the Ukok plateau in Russia’s Republic of Altai. This mummy of a 25-year-old woman is credited to the ancient nomadic Pazyryk culture that existed in the region in the 5th to 3rd centuries B.C.
The grave had been covered with ice and was perfectly preserved. Wearing a wig, the body is covered with tattoos. Most likely the woman belonged to the nobility, as indicated by the fact that she was buried with six harnessed horses.
The mummy was sent to the A.V. Anokhin National Museum in Gorno-Altaysk, but locals believe Altai is suffering earthquakes and floods because the Princess of Ukok is not in her place of eternal rest. They demand the mummy’s return to its original burial site in the plateau.
6 – Scythian gold
The Scythians were ancient nomads who inhabited the western and central Eurasian steppes from the 9th to the 1st centuries B.C. They left many burial mounds, known as kurgans, on the territory of modern-day Russia and Ukraine.
These burial mounds were full of items made of gold, which apparently played a significant role in the Scythian worldview, and symbolized eternal life. These gold masterpieces are a source of pride for many Russian museums, including the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.
The Scythian gold is also a bone of contention between Russia and The Netherlands. Such items from Crimean museums were touring that European country when the peninsula’s reunification with Russia took place in 2014. The Netherlands refuses to return the gold treasures to Russia and instead plans to give them to Ukraine.
7 – “Country of Towns”
In the 1960s-1980s, Soviet archeologists in the Southern Urals discovered several settlements dating to about 2,000 B.C., which are now known as the “Country of Towns.” The area covers nearly 350 square kilometers and has dozens of scattered settlements.
The youngest of the towns is 3,700 years old, which is about 1,000 years before the pyramids at Giza were built. The settlements are remarkable because of their advanced design – there are storm drains, dams and canals. Most of the towns, however, still have to be excavated and studied by archeologists.
8 – 23,000-Year-Old Venus-Like Statue
Carved from woolly mammoth tusk, the naked Paleolithic beauty displays a “fantastically delicate” prehistoric woman. This rare find was made in the Bryansk region of Russia. Dr Konstantin Gavrilov, who led the expedition that discovered it, waxed lyrical – comparing the figurine to Rembrandt’s fulsome image of Danae from Greek mythology. Unique artifact is suggested to be 23,000 years old.
Most experts believed such prehistoric statuettes are “ceremonial” and “ritual” objects. This significant find was made among bones of mammoths, bison, and flint stones in a 23,000 year old layer at archeological site Khotylyovo-2.
9 – The Denisovans
A finger bone fragment and several molars found in the Denisova cave in Altai allowed scientists to make the extraordinary new discovery of this extinct species, or subspecies, of the Homo genus. Denisova hominins lived about 40,000 years ago in the area of the Altai Mountains.
The Denisovan genome significantly differs from that of modern humans, and it’s believed that before they went extinct they partly mixed with Homo sapiens. More than 20 archeological layers have been studied in the Denisova cave, and today it’s open for tourists.
10 – ‘Alien’ Toddler Skeleton With Weird Elongated Skull
The burial place of a 1,5-year-old boy with a deformed elongated skull was unearthed by Russian archaeologists in Crimea. The scientists immediately dubbed the finding an ‘alien’ due to the unusual structure of the skull.
The grave of boy, which dates back to the second century, was a key finding of the recent expedition, according to anthropologists.
According to archeologists such skull deformations were typical for Sarmatians, who once inhabited modern-day Crimea. It is theorized that they may have used it to identify members of certain groups or bearers of a certain social status. Several burial sites dating to the first-third centuries were also unearthed near where the scientists found the boy, as well as massive stone tombs believed to belong to high-ranking people from the Bosporan Kingdom, an ancient state located in eastern Crimea between the fifth century BC and fourth century AD.