Archaeologists working near Omsk in Siberia have discovered a complete suit of bone armor that likely belonged to an elite warrior. Found in near perfect condition, the unique armor dates back to the Bronze Age.

A suit of armor like this, which was buried at a depth of 1.5 meters and found without its unknown owner, has never been seen before in the Omsk region. Further analysis is required, but preliminary estimates place it between 3,500 to 3,900 years old. The artifact was found near the Irtysh River at a site of a sanatorium where there are plans to build a five star hotel.

Finds in this area tend to come from the Krotov culture. But this bone armor more closely resembles artifacts from the Samus-Seyminskaya culture, which originated near the area of the Altai Mountain, about 1,000 km to the south east, and who later migrated to Omsk. The archaeologists speculate that the armor may have been a gift, an item of exchange, or a spoil of war.

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"It is unique first of all because such armor was highly valued. It was more precious than life, because it saved life," noted curator of excavations Boris Konikov in Siberian Times. "Secondly, it was found in a settlement, and this has never happened before. There were found separate fragments in burials, like on Rostovka burial ground."

The armor, which consists of different plates made up of small fragments of bone that were joined together, was likely buried at a place of worship. The piece surely carried tremendous material value and prestige. An analysis is being conducted to determine the type or types of animals that the bone came from, but it's probably from deer, elk, and/or horse.

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According to Yury Gerasimov, a research fellow of the Omsk branch of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, the armor likely belonged to a "hero," an "elite warrior who knew special methods of battle" and would have "given good protection from weapons that were used at the time — bone and stone arrowheads, bronze knives, spears tipped with bronze, and bronze axes."

Gerasimov added: "Such armor needs constant care. At the moment we can only fantasize — who dug it into the ground and for what purpose. Was it some ritual or sacrifice? We do not know yet."

The archaeological site has also yielded a complex of monuments belonging to different epochs. There are settlements, burial grounds (including from the Early Neolithic period to the Middle Ages), and manufacturing sites.

Much more at the Siberian Times.

All images Siberian Times.

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