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Grave of medieval 'infant prince' found in the Arctic


The grave of a 15th century infant 'prince' wearing a fur and wool 'crown' has been found in the Russian Arctic.

Grave of medieval 'infant prince' found in the Arctic
The burials were on the highest points of the spurs, or hillocks, on Arctic rivers 
[Credit: Alexander Tkachev, The Siberian Times]
The child, probably aged three or four, was buried with his feet trampling on reindeer bones, and a feast of newly-roasted venison interred with him as nourishment for the next life.

Archaeologists say two iron knives were attached to his belt, and he was buried on birch bark with a stock of arrowheads.

Grave of medieval 'infant prince' found in the Arctic
The grave was not found in burial grounds, but on its own, seen as another unusual aspect, researchers said 
[Credit: Alexander Tkachev, The Siberian Times]
The child was buried with an elaborate headdress decorated with iron rings and bronze ornaments.

Researchers believe it is unique and indicate the boy had a high status in his Arctic society which existed on the remote Gydan peninsula in the late 15th or early 16th centuries.

Grave of medieval 'infant prince' found in the Arctic
So far nine burials have been found, but only two opened - and more may be identified 
[Credit: Alexander Tkachev, The Siberian Times]
The child's remains were found on a spur on the Vesakoyakha River in the Siberian permafrost.

Dr Alexander Tkachev, head of the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography of Tyumen State University, said: 'The burial was unusually rich for such a little child.

Grave of medieval 'infant prince' found in the Arctic
Fragment of the young child's skull [Credit: Alexander Tkachev, The Siberian Times]
'In fact, we were rather taken aback. When we dug down, we thought the grave was almost empty, but then we saw two knives and were very surprised. When we noticed the pieces of fur and woollen cloth along with the decorations - and understood it was impressive headwear - we were really shocked.'

The grave was not found in burial grounds, but on its own, seen as another unusual aspect.

Grave of medieval 'infant prince' found in the Arctic
The elaborate headdress - decorated with iron rings and bronze ornaments - is seen as unique and indicating 
the boy had a high status in his Arctic society [Credit: Alexander Tkachev, The Siberian Times]
Such burial sites do exist - known to the local Nenets people as 'The Road of Those Who Went To Heaven' - but graves here were simpler.

'There are no such rich kid burials, that is why we were so surprised by our finds this summer,' he said.

Grave of medieval 'infant prince' found in the Arctic
Archaeologists say two iron knives were attached to his belt [Credit: Alexander Tkachev, The Siberian Times]
But eight other graves have been found, all on different the spurs of Arctic rivers.

One of these is known to be a child's - a boy aged 13 or 14 was found with cross-shaped inlays of white bronze on his funeral gown, unearthed last year.

Grave of medieval 'infant prince' found in the Arctic
The boy was buried on birch bark with a stock of arrowheads [Credit: Alexander Tkachev, The Siberian Times]
Dr Tkachev believes the others, to be opened next year, will be children too.

One theory 'is that the youngsters were buried alone, away from their clans, because they died before being fully initiated into their polar societies,' reported The Siberian Times.

Grave of medieval 'infant prince' found in the Arctic
Evidence was found of fires on mounds at the graves, with venison being cooked on the bone, perhaps
as sustenance on the way to the next life [Credit: Alexander Tkachev, The Siberian Times]
The child 'prince' is from the he indigenous Sikhirtya (Siirtya) people, described as 'very small, with blond hair and light eyes'.

The researchers are to reconstruct the elaborate headdress worn by the child.

Author: Will Stewart | Source: Daily Mail [September 08, 2017]
TANN

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