© Unknown
The intriguing find of the remains of a 'noblewoman' from the ancient Okunev Culture was made in the Republic of Khakassia. Her treasures include an incense burner decorated by solar symbols, 1,500 beads that once adorned her costume, and 100 pendants made from animal teeth.

The Okunev people are seen as the Siberian ethnic grouping most closely related to Native Americans. In other words, it was ancestors of the Okunevs who populated America, evidently using primitive boats to venture to the ice-covered Beringia land bridge some 12,600 years ago.

The mysterious ancient culture was 'unparalleled' in Siberia in terms of its artistic richness and diversity, according to experts. Undisturbed by pillaging grave robbers, the burial site of the woman, also containing the remains of a child, offers a wealth of clues about the life of these ancient people.

The head of the expedition Dr Andrey Polyakov said the grave of the 'noblewoman' dated back to the Early Bronze Age, between the 25th and 18th centuries BC.

'For such an ancient epoch, this woman has a lot of items in her grave,' he said. 'We have not encountered anything like this in other burials from this time, and it leads us to suggest that the items in her grave had some ritual meaning.

© Boris Dolinin, Elena Sibiryakova
The Okunev Steles - anthropomorphous stone columns several meters tall - are the most widely known monument attributed to this culture.
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