Archaeologists in Siberia uncover the skeleton of a strange "bird-man"

Archaeologists in Siberia uncover the skeleton of a strange bird-man

Last year, archaeologists discovered a strange skeleton in Siberia. 5,000 years old, the bones were accompanied by beaks and skulls of birds that could have formed a sort of ritual costume.

Some baptized him "Birdman" (in French "the bird-man") and it suffices to observe his body to understand why. Its skeleton was unearthed last year in the Novosibirsk region of western Siberia. Archaeologists have discovered it complete, lying in a pit on a site that seems to have served as a cemetery for the culture called Odinov dating back to the early Bronze Age.

It is estimated that the bones are around 5,000 years old, but it is mainly their arrangement that intrigued specialists. Alongside the skeleton, the latter have indeed revealed the presence of numerous beaks and skulls belonging to large birds. "We have never found anything like it related to Odinov culture in all of western Siberia," Lilia Kobeleva of the Novosibirsk Institute of Archeology and Ethnography told The Siberian Times.

The arrangement of the bones of birds has, however, enabled specialists to make suggestions as to their function. The beaks and skulls were assembled along the neck and the skull, as if they formed a necklace, a headdress or perhaps an armor. This suggests that the elements - the number of which was estimated to be between 30 and 50 - were probably part of the clothing of the deceased.

It was "perhaps a necklace that protected its owner when he was alive," said Lilia Kobeleva. Another version suggests, however, that it could be the remains of a ritual costume and that the man was perhaps a kind of shaman.

The discovery still raises many questions. It is unknown, for example, to which birds beaks and skulls belong. Preliminary observations suggest waders like cranes or herons. Likewise, specialists have not yet succeeded in determining how the bones were assembled, no hole having been identified.

To solve the mystery, extensive analyzes will be carried out on the elements once they are delicately separated. However, archaeologists will also have to elucidate a second discovery revealed on the same site. Not far from the "Birdman", they have in fact uncovered a double-story burial.

On the first floor were two young children, aged around 5 and 10 years old. Below them lay the skeleton of an adult man surrounded by numerous artefacts, including a sort of pair of glasses made up of two bronze hemispheres connected by a bridge. The object was not from the head of the deceased and revealed traces of organic matter in the hemispheres.

According to The Siberian Times, experts believe it could be a funeral mask or a helmet. Near the man's left arm and near his waist, crescent-shaped polished stone pendants also appeared. So many unique objects which seem to confirm that this man, like the first, was not like the others.

"The two men were to have special roles in society," said Lilia Kobeleva. "I say that because we have been working on this site for a long time and we have discovered more than 30 graves there. They all contained interesting things but we had never discovered anything so impressive".

We now know that the Odinov culture was the dominant culture in the Bronze Age in this region of western Siberia. But this population of hunters who seemed to practice animal breeding, the work of bronze and ceramics remains relatively unknown. "We think these men may have been some kind of priests," concluded Lilia Kobeleva.

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