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Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva

By The Siberian Times reporter
08 September 2019

Ancient Xiongnu-era woman took stylish accessory to the afterlife.

'This site is a scientific sensation', said Dr Marina Kilunovskaya from the St Petersburg Institute of Material History Culture, who leads the Tuva Archeological Expedition. Picture: 

HMC RAS/Pavel Leus

To archeologist Pavel Leus the striking new find resembled a modern smartphone. 

The black rectangular object was located in a burial site known as ‘The Russian Atlantis’ in mountainous Republic of Tuva, for it only appears from under water for few weeks a year.

Archeologists jokingly nicknamed the ancient female Natasha, while her accessory was called ‘an iPhone’. 

'‘Natasha’s’ burial with a Xiongnu-era iPhone remains one of the most interesting at this burial site,' Pavel Leus said in a new publication summarising results of several years of recent archeological expeditions to the Ala-Tey burial site. 

In fact, the discovery is a large - 18cm by 9cm - chic belt buckle made of gemstone jet with inlaid decorations of turquoise, carnelian and mother-of-pearl. 

The woman’s belt was decorated with Chinese wuzhu coins which helped the scientists to date it. 

They believe it might be up to 2,137 years old because this is when such coins were first minted. 

Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva


Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva


Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva
Burial AT 1/29 and a stunning find which archeologists jokingly named 'Natasha's iPhone'. Pictures: HMC RAS/Pavel Leus


The find was made in 2016 at the Ala-Tey necropolis in the Sayan Sea.

This is a giant manmade reservoir on the Yenisei River upstream of the Sayano-Shushenskaya Dam, Russia’s biggest power plant. 

The water drains in May and June each year exposing the vast desert-like floor. 

Graves have been found here dating from the Bronze Age to the time of Genghis Khan.

Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva


Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva


Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva


Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva


Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva
Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva. Pictures: HMC RAS/Pavel Leus


Earlier two partly-mummified prehistoric fashionistas, buried with the tools of their trade were unearthed. 

One called ‘Sleeping Beauty’ - dressed in silk for the afterlife - was at first believed to be a priestess. Now she is thought to have been a leather designer.

The second was a weaver laid to rest with her wooden spindle packed inside a sewing bag.

As many as 110 burials appeared on an island in the reservoir at Ala-Tey site. 

'This site is a scientific sensation', said Dr Marina Kilunovskaya from the St Petersburg Institute of Material History Culture, who leads the Tuva Archeological Expedition. 

'We are incredibly lucky to have found these burials of rich nomads that were not disturbed by (ancient) grave robbers.'

Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva


Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva


Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva


Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva


Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva


Archeologist in awe at 2,100 year old iPhone-like belt buckle unearthed in Atlantis grave in Tuva

Earlier the so-called 'Sleeping beauty' in silk clothes was found at the site. Pictures show Ala-Tey site before and after it goes under water for most of the year, and Terezin site. Pictures: HMC RAS/Pavel Leus


Pavel Leus is from the Society for the Exploration of EurAsia.

Tuva archeological rescue expedition in flooded areas is possible thank to a grant from the Russian Geographical Society, and help from Society for the Exploration of EurAsia (Switzerland).

Burial AT 1/29 and a stunning find which archeologists jokingly named 'Natasha's iPhone'. Video: Pavel Leus


Comments (23)

This is big story. I really like it and found it quite interesting.
Lájoš Merášoš, Ula Magula Kazachstan
10/09/2019 00:33
4
0
Nayman, Turkey
Dont be moron.
Naiman, Turkey
09/09/2019 21:03
1
7
The most interesting aspect of the belt buckle is its minimalist geometric design, which leads to its comparison with an iphone. I would like to hear how an art historian places this artifact in context. Are there any other similar examples of this style to be associated with this time and culture? To me, it seems totally unique.
Edward Jones, West Midlands UK
09/09/2019 14:38
12
1
Why is her named Natasha? It's an insult to our ancestors. Turkic countries should have an scientific commission for such scientific advances. It's a shame that Russian scientists name a Hun woman Natasha.
Nayman, Turkey
09/09/2019 13:34
11
25
Nah that's not an iPhone. That's an Android
Martin, UK
08/09/2019 20:47
16
3
Cool belt buckle. I wonder which strange things archeologists will dig up in Siberia (in the near/far future).
Erik de Wilde, Hulsberg, the Netherlands
08/09/2019 20:11
6
0

Why was the burial ground up on a hill?

-- Did they think the deceased was on a way to some place that is somewhere "up there"?

-- Were only the important people buried on a hill?



-- Can the hill be seen from far away (in the landscape 2'000 years ago)?

-- Did the tribe get some kind of "strength for survival" of seeing the hill near the tribe's?

-- Was the hill and graves a cornerstone of territory, a sign for the enemy: This is our territory / turf, don't come here? -- In this case there might be more of these cornerstones on the nearby hills.

Wilhelm Tell, Telluria
08/09/2019 17:24
3
4
So the Ala-Tey is in a lake. It is a higher place than the surroundings. This means that the deceased were buried on (the top of?) a hill.
Wilhelm Tell, Telluria
08/09/2019 16:31
2
2
12

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