The fifth season of the joint expedition to Tuva of the Russian Geographical Society and the Institute of History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences has started.
The picturesque kurgan Tunnug-1 is located in the Tuva Republic and has long been attracting the attention of archaeologists. The local toponyms alone give rise to research excitement: it is in Piy-Khem Kozhuun that the so-called Valley of the Kings is located. In addition, scientists know that the "royal" kurgans of the Early Scythian period are not only funerary monuments, but also places of rituals, points of intersection of trade and military roads of nomadic tribes, a reliable landmark in the steppe.
The systematic work on the kurgan, which began in 2018 under the auspices of the Russian Geographical Society, exceeded the wildest expectations. Tunnug, which at the time of its construction in the 9th century BC was a complex architectural structure made of wood, clay and stone, presented researchers with many finds. Having examined by now slightly less than half of the monument, scientists have discovered a Scythian copper crown, mysterious stone steles depicting people, more than fifty gold objects, and other finds. Its total area is more than 18 thousand square meters. The diameter of the kurgan itself exceeds 100 meters. It is divided into 16 sectors, of which six sectors had been excavated and examined in detail by the beginning of the fifth season of the expedition.
In 2022, another sector of the kurgan will be excavated. Archaeologists are optimistic: traditionally, excavations of the kurgan are conducted from the periphery, and often the most valuable things await researchers at the base of the kurgan.
“In previous years, we discovered numerous bronze and bone elements of horse harness, unusual arrowheads, knives, jewelry,” lists Timur Sadykov, the chief scientist of the expedition, researcher at the Department of Archaeological Conservation of the Institute of History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences. “During the fifth season, we expect new findings. Although – and this is the beauty of archaeology – nothing can ever be predicted in advance, each new expedition presents new surprises and changes our ideas about ancient history.”