Drawings By Ancient People Found In The Kan River Basin For The First Time

The found drawing of a man and a bull. Photo: Krasnoyarsk Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society / Alexander Zaika
The found drawing of a man and a bull. Photo: Krasnoyarsk Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society / Alexander Zaika

Ancient rock drawings were discovered by an expedition in which representatives of the Russian Geographical Society participated in the Krasnoyarsk Territory. This first such find in the Kan River basin is capable of opening a new page in the history of human exploration of the highlands of the Eastern Sayan Mountains.

Scientists have been searching for cave paintings by ancient people in the Kan River for more than a hundred years but until now they did not bring results. The potential location of such images in 2023 was reported to the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography of Krasnoyarsk State Pedagogical University by Vladimir Chernikov, a well-known traveler and local historian, a member of the Russian Geographical Society. It was he who initiated and organized the expedition.

“He, in turn, received information about the drawing from the hunters of the Sayan District who delivered them to the object and took a direct part in the expedition. Given the inaccessibility of the location in the summer, the trip to it was made by snowmobiles on river ice. At a distance of 90 kilometers upstream from the last settlement on the Kan River, the ancient inhabitants painted images of people, animals, and mysterious symbols on the coastal cliff with red ochre about four thousand years ago. Despite many years of archaeological research in the Kan River basin, these are the first rock drawings that have become known to science," Alexander Zaika, head of the expedition, Candidate of Historical Sciences, director of the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography of Astafiev Krasnoyarsk State Pedagogical University, told the Krasnoyarsk Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society.

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An ancient artist painted on these rocks thousands of years ago. Photo: Krasnoyarsk Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society/Alexander Zaika
An ancient artist painted on these rocks thousands of years ago. Photo: Krasnoyarsk Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society/Alexander Zaika

Now scientists will have to carefully study and interpret the discovered petroglyphs. One of them depicts a man and a bull.

“The animal that is led by a man on a rope is not a buck, but a bull. This is indicated by the characteristic shape of the head, a powerful neck, pronounced withers, a large chest, and a relatively long tail. But how did the bull end up so far from the forest-steppe in an inaccessible taiga place? One can, of course, assume that it was brought there on purpose. What for? There were no glades for grazing but there were plenty of bloodsucking insects and predators. For meat? Also, probably unnecessary for hunters. Maybe the drawing reflects the memories of the life of people who were then forced to wander through the taiga? Unlikely. The ancients were pragmatists and thought practically. There are similar images of bulls on Angara, Amur, in Spain, and even in Africa. The only fundamental difference is the scene. In our case, this is not a wild animal hunt but a completely peaceful scene with a domesticated animal," said Vladimir Chernikov, a Krasnoyarsk traveler and researcher, a member of the Russian Geographical Society.

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Alexander Zaika will continue to research the found images. Photo: Krasnoyarsk Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society/Vladimir Chernikov
Alexander Zaika will continue to research the found images. Photo: Krasnoyarsk Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society/Vladimir Chernikov

The results of the expedition are the beginning of a large and serious work that can reveal the secrets that have been kept in the secluded corners of the Kan River Valley for thousands of years. Scientists intend to continue their research in the area of the interesting find.

Vladislav Vlasov, Alexander Zhirnov