Frozen tomb may contain ancient remains of Scythian royal

An untouched 'frozen tomb' that may contain the 2,800-year-old remains of Scythian royal has been discovered in Siberia.

The huge grave, which is perfectly preserved in permafrost, is wider than the length of a football field, and likely houses the remains of several Scythian royals.

The Scythians were a barbaric group of horse-riding nomads who dominated a vast stretch of Eurasia from around the ninth to first centuries BC.

They built no settlements and left no written record, so archaeologists have gleaned what little is known of them from the well-endowed tombs of their leaders.

Now scientists have discovered one of the oldest and largest Scythian graves ever found, which could also contain a record hoard of weapons and gold treasures.

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An untouched 'frozen tomb' that may contain the 2,800-year-old remains of a Scythian royal has been discovered in Siberia. The huge circular grave (front right) is wider than the length of a football field, and likely houses the remains of several Scythian royals

An untouched 'frozen tomb' that may contain the 2,800-year-old remains of a Scythian royal has been discovered in Siberia. The huge circular grave (front right) is wider than the length of a football field, and likely houses the remains of several Scythian royals

The Scythians left behind a number of huge burial mounds, which they filled with gold jewellery, richly decorated cups, bronze arrowheads, and other goods.

Their contents are often exceptionally well-preserved for their age, with Siberia's permanently icy soil even keeping the tattooed skin of some corpses intact.

Researcher Dr Gino Caspari, from the University of Bern in Switzerland, discovered the enormous royal tomb while studying satellite data of the Uyuk Valley in Tuva, a Russian republic northwest of Mongolia.

The region is sometimes called the 'Siberian Valley of the Kings' due to the high number of Scythian tombs found there.

Dr Caspari told Newsweek that the grave, known as a kurgas, likely holds a hoard of well-preserved items because of the valley's underground layer of permafrost.

But the team will not break into the tomb until they complete detailed scans of its delicate contents.

WHO WERE THE SCYTHIANS?

The Scythians were a barbaric group of horse-riding nomads who dominated a vast stretch of Eurasia from around the ninth to first centuries BC.

Among outsiders, they had a reputation as brutal warriors, renowned for their ability to shoot arrows with deadly accuracy from horseback.

Writing in the fifth century BC, Greek historian Herodotus claimed that after battle, the Scythians made cloaks from their victims' scalps.

It is said the savage warriors made drinking cups from their enemies' skulls and drank their blood to celebrate victories.

The Scythians were a barbaric group of horse-riding nomads who dominated a vast stretch of Eurasia from the ninth to first centuries BC. Pictured is an 1881 painting of a battle between Scythians (right) and Slavs (left)

The Scythians were a barbaric group of horse-riding nomads who dominated a vast stretch of Eurasia from the ninth to first centuries BC. Pictured is an 1881 painting of a battle between Scythians (right) and Slavs (left)

They built no cities and left no written record, meaning experts have gleaned what little is known of them from the well-endowed tombs of their leaders.

Their contents are often exceptionally well-preserved for their age, with Siberia's icy soil even keeping the tattooed skin of some corpses intact. 

The Scythians filled the tombs,

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