Barrow “Arzhaan-2” Unique Findings in the National Museum of the Tuva Republic
(53rd Annual Meeting of the PIAC, St. Petersburg 2010)
“The Tsars Valley Treasures. “Arzhaan-2” Barrow” permanent exhibition was opened in the National Museum of the Tuva Republic in November 2008. According to M. Piotrovskiy, the Hermitage Director, this invaluable collection is “the major archaeological discovery of the XXI century”. The collection consists of 1200 objects. All the artifacts were found by the Russian-German archaeological expedition during the excavation of barrow “Arzhaan-2” in the Tsars Valley in the Tuva Republic in 2001 – 2003. The excavations were headed by V. Chugunov, the Hermitage scientific researcher, from Russia, and Berlin archaeologists A. Nagler and Parzinger from Germany. Besides the main “royal” grave they also discovered 11 graves for 17 entombed and a burial place of 14 horses. According to the archaeologists’ description a female and male skeletons dressed in outfits decorated with a great number of gold plates were found on the well cleaned floor in the centre of the wooden cribwork, made of Siberian larch logs. A massive gold grivna – a symbol of power, was found among the remains. The Scythian headwear was decorated with gold sheets in the form of horses, deer and snow leopards. The scientists supposed it was a married couple belonging to the Scythian elite buried in the grave.
The total weight of the gold taken out of the tomb was about 20 kg. While excavating Arzhaan-2 the archaeologists found a great amount of iron weapons, inlaid with gold, and also bronze items and ceramic ware. Restored treasures dating back to the VII century B.C., were exhibited in the State Hermitage and museums of Germany.
Unique excavations of the barrow “Arzhaan-2” have presented a lot of questions concerning the culture of Scythian period of Tuva which to be studied and answered by science.