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Ancient death masks of a warrior race unearthed in Siberia

Ian Harvey

An ongoing study has been revealing intriguing facts about a warrior race that inhabited the Siberian regions some 1500 years ago. A recent discovery of a collection of scary death masks unearthed from Siberia has strengthened the persistent theory about the ancient Siberians; that they were not only fierce warriors but also a culturally rich people with elaborate and colorful funeral rites.

Funerary mask from Tashtyk
Funerary mask from Tashtyk Source:By shakko – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, 

The death masks were excavated form a massive tomb located in the region of Kemerovo which belongs to the Tashtyk tribes of antiquity. The mysterious warrior Siberian race of Tashtyk is famous for their elaborated funeral rituals. Inside the giant tomb, the researchers have found an ancient crypt which contained remains of 30 adult bodies, and fragments of some 20 death masks. These death masks are composed of Gypsum and provide a glimpse into the death rituals of the tribes.

Tashtyk masks
Tashtyk masks  Source:By shakko – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, 

Russian scientists working on the site and other similar locations with identical traits have said that information about the life and cultures of Tashtyk is increasing. The ancient cultures relied heavily upon their concepts of life and death, and the occasions where one could see the ancient cultural richness at it best were the times when the ancients buried their loved ones especially the high born and Royals. These funeral arrangements often shed light on the traditions and life style of these long lost communities. A number of sites up and down the former Soviet Union’s regions have been excavated and have revealed similar funeral arrangements suggesting an obvious link between these communities or perhaps same tribal association.

Some experts working on Tashtyk tribes, who lived and thrived between second century BC and 6th century BC, propose a theory that all indicators point towards the European lineage of the ancient Siberians, rather than an Asian ancestry.

Dr. Pavel German told the reporters that the death masks discovered in the regions are believed to have been prepared after the death, and were kept alongside the cremated bodies to give them a ‘living’ meaning. The tribesmen went to extra lengths to say a final farewell to their loved ones; in many cases a leather or fabric human dummies were manufactured which were then used to contain the cremated remains of the dead people. After safely storing the remains in the dummies the death masks were then put on top of the dummies; two different kinds of death masks prepared from the Gypsum, for men and women. Dr. Pavel German said that the crypt in the Tomb discovered recently is monumental, and it took the researchers a whole two seasons to fully excavate the burial site. The crypts, says Dr German were built after extensive planning; first, a massive hole was dug which was then surrounded by strong walls and decks which were further covered with logs.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News