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'What has enabled Russia to rise among the great powers of the world…has been the conquest of Siberia'
W.Bruce Lincoln

2,300 year old wooden house is rebuilt, and it fits together down to the last centimetre

By The Siberian Times reporter
23 August 2019

Timber from potentate’s log cabin was superbly persevered in permafrost, allowing us to see how ancient man lived.

The house itself, recently reconstructed, was not built as a dwelling but nevertheless is seen by archeologists as showing the style of domestic architecture more than two millennia ago. Picture: Nikita Konstantinov

The attractive log cabin was a prefabricated construction by the prehistoric Pazyryk culture to house an elite tomb - in which was buried a mummified curly-haired potentate and his younger wife or concubine.

The mound in the Altai Mountains was originally 42 metres in diameter, and this tattooed couple went to the next life alongside nine geldings, saddled and harnessed.

The house itself, recently reconstructed, was not built as a dwelling but nevertheless is seen by archeologists as showing the style of domestic architecture more than two millennia ago. 

Pazyryk log house in situ


GV of the grave pit


Excavations of the house


Pazyryk log house in situ


The attractive log cabin was a prefabricated construction by the prehistoric Pazyryk culture to house an elite tomb. Pictures: Nikita Konstantinov, Vladimir Mylnikov

This structure was the outer of two wooden houses in the large burial mound in the valley of the River Bolshoy Ulagan at an altitude of around 1,600 metres above sea level. 

The core of the mound including the ice-preserved bodies of the elite couple had been excavated by Soviet archeologists in 1949, and many of the  finds are on on display in the world famous State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. 

As we have previously written, the pair - who owned perhaps the world’s oldest carpets - are currently undergoing an ultra modern medical scan to establish the cause of death, and reconstruct the appearance of the ancient pair, and to study the techniques of mummification in more detail.

More details are here.

Hatches on the logs


Attachment point


Reassembling the house


Reassembling the house


Ready house

‘We took out the log house and reassembled it right next to the mound.’ Pictures: Nikita Konstantinov, Vladimir Mylnikov

Yet in 1949 this fascinating house was left in the permafrost ground - and only retrieved now from the so-called Fifth Pazyryk Barrow, to the excitement of archeologists. 

Head of the excavation Dr Nikita Konstantinov from Gorno-Altaisk State University, was full of admiration about the skills of the ancient craftsmen. 

‘We took out the log house and reassembled it right next to the mound,’ he said.

‘We made kind of express reconstruction, which made it possible to study the log house in detail. 

Igor Slyusarenko

Igor Slyusarenko at the work. Picture: Nikita Konstantinov

‘Notches were made on each of its logs - building marks…’.

This was like IKEA instructions today for building their products, telling modern day excavation volunteers how to correctly construct the prehistoric building kit. 

The result is seen in the pictures shown here. 

‘This log house was first built somewhere away from the mound, then it was dismantled, brought and reassembled in the pit,’ said Dr Konstantinov.

‘Today we build in similar way, using Roman numerals, as a rule.

‘In those times they simply made different numbers of notches.’

Fifth Barrow GV


Scheme of the burial pit

The core of the mound including the ice-preserved bodies of the elite couple had been excavated by Soviet archeologists in 1949. Pictures: Nikita Konstantinov, Hermitage Museum

The archeological team followed the code left by the ancient craftsmen and reassembled the house without problems.

‘The Pazyryks knitted the corners of the building in a masterly way  and chopped the attachment points of these logs.

‘They fitted very cleanly…. 

‘When we built the log house and began to measure the height, it turned out that the height difference in the angles is only one centimetre.’

Chariot parts


Chariot parts


Chariot parts


Chariot at the exhibition

In the mound, archeologists also found remnants of an ancient chariot - the rest of which is in the State Hermitage Museum. Pictures: Natalya Vasilieva, Hermitage Museum

In modern constructions, a difference of 7 cm is allowed which showed how skilful were the ancient craftsmen. 

He said: ‘This is a funerary structure, but we can say with a high degree of probability that the log cabin was created in the image and likeness of the houses in which the Pazyryks lived. 

‘Of course, the shape or size would have been different, but in general, the same building methods were used here.’

The house - excavated this summer - has been moved to the National Museum of the Altai Republic in Gorno-Altaisk.

Carpet fragments


Felt carpet


Felt carpet - detail


Felt carpet - detail


Felt carpet - detail


Reconstruction of how the carpet hanged

Remnants of an ancient felt carpet with the image of a sphinx which decorated the walls of the inner house protecting the tomb were also discovered. Pictures: Natalya Vasilieva, Hermitage Museum

Here the logs are being slowly dried. They had become waterlogged in the thawing permafrost.

After the grave was excavated in the late 1940s, the site was not closed again and this exposed the permafrost.

Nevertheless the level of preservation is high. 

In the mound, archeologists also found remnants of an ancient chariot - the rest of which is in the State Hermitage Museum. 

Remnants of an ancient felt carpet with the image of a sphinx which decorated the walls of the inner house protecting the tomb were also discovered, as were other artefacts. 

The inner house itself was removed by the Soviet scientists and is also in the Hermitage. 

Ice-preserved bodies of the elite couple decorated with the elaborated tattooes. Pictures: Lyudmila Barkova

Male mummy


Chieftain's head


Male tattoo


Male tattoo


Male tattoo


Male tattoo


Female tattoo


Female tattoo

Comments (5)

Amazing!Beutifull!
I Love going on Siberian Times.You do not see such detail from pictures and discription of stuff on other news.
James, Alaska
10/09/2019 02:16
9
0
Amazing indeed.
A P Mohanty, Cuttack, India
02/09/2019 23:42
4
0
@ B. Morak: Sorry, but this is not Stone Age, but Iron Age /scyths) - however, the wooden structure is impressing. I built several log cabins as (re)constructions of ancient houses, and using only hand tools it is real hard work, especially if you´re working on a high precision level like these Patzyry people obviously did. Respect!
ULFR, Harbølle/Denmark
30/08/2019 01:39
10
0
and this was made by - stone age people - using only - stone age - tools? hat off to them. these days modern constructors with all their modern tools have a hard time to get something like this together...
Benedikt MORAK, Moscow
27/08/2019 08:42
8
2
This is amazing ! Congratulations and thank you to the archeologists working on this project. Very interesting.
Louie, New Zealand
26/08/2019 15:14
16
0
1

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