Russian scientists have discovered a family crypt containing numerous remains and numerous bronze artifacts that belong to an unidentified culture.

In the fall of 2021, a 2,000-year-old crypt belonging to a previously unknown Scythian culture was discovered during the expansion of the 19th-century Shinnoye cemetery in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. A team of archaeologists led by Dr. Dimitry Vinogradov from Siberian Federal University was on site to excavate the find. Although over 150 ancient tombs have been found around Krasnoyarsk in the past century, this is the first to be excavated in 65 years.

Excavators discovered the crypt after bulldozing a mound, however, the process damaged the upper part of the catacombs. Despite the damage, the team used historical photographs to determine the original diameter of the tomb to be about 30 meters. The tomb is lined with wooden walls and a floor made of birch bark, and the top is also wooden, forming a “box crypt”.

The discovery of this crypt offers a unique opportunity to understand the history and culture of the Scythian people. Despite the damage caused by the bulldozing, the team is working to preserve and study the remains and artifacts within the tomb.

The team of archaeologists uncovered a range of everyday objects, weapons, and even sacred artifacts that the deceased would have used in their journey to the afterlife. Among the discoveries were knives, mirrors, needles, ceramic pots for eating and drinking, as well as iconic battle axes and small bronze daggers. Additionally, the team found substantial pieces of copper and copper beads, including a bronze depiction of a deer, which was a popular motif in ancient Siberian Scythian art.

With approximately 50 remains, Vinogradov believes that this was most likely a family crypt that was used by multiple generations. The color of the soil in the mound suggests that the site was exposed to high temperatures, leading the team to conclude that when the crypt was full of remains and there was no more room, it was sealed and burned.

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