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‘Priceless’ Treasure Trove Found in Eastern Kazakhstan

The artifacts, which show a high level of craftsmanship, are likely to have belonged to a branch of Scythians who lived in Central Asia.

6 August 2018

A treasure trove of 3,000 gold pieces, as well as jewelry and precious metal objects, was unearthed on the Eleke Sazy plateau in the Tarbagatai Mountains in eastern Kazakhstan, according to Kitco News, a website for gold news, commentary, and financial market information. The burial items include earrings, necklaces with precious stones, and chains – all made using sophisticated metalworking techniques.


Archeologists believe they belonged to the Saka people, who ruled Central Asia 2,800 years ago.



“'A large number of valuable finds in this burial mound let us believe a man and a woman are buried here – the reigning persons or people who belonged to the elite of Saka society,” professor Zainolla Samashev, who heads the project, said, according to Kitco News.


There could be as many 200 burial mounds on the plateau, which increases the chances of making similar finds, Kazakh archeologist Yerben Oralbai said, as quoted by the Mirror. “There are a lot of burial mounds here and the prospects are very large,” said Oralbai.


The find was hailed by local authorities, with Danial Akhmetov, governor of the East Kazakhstan region, saying in news interviews that the discovery “gives us a completely different view of the history of our people. We are the heirs of a great people and great technologies.”  


Although the first object of jewelry was extracted from the location two years ago, it is believed that part of the treasure was removed during the times of Russian tsar Peter the Great.


The most famous and significant archaeological discovery from Kazakhstan to date – the Golden Man, or Altyn Adam – has been making its way through the world’s museums after debuting in Minsk last December, The Astana Times writes.


Discovered in 1969 near Almaty, at a site known as the Issyk burial, the gold artifacts consisted of a Saka warrior’s costume made from approximately 4,800 gold items. In addition to the armor, the travelling exhibition also includes a silver bowl with runic inscriptions and a golden badge with two mirror-reflected leopards.



  • Called Scythians by the Greeks, the Saka were a group of nomadic tribes that lived between the ninth and the second century BC across a vast region covering northern China and Mongolia, through southern Siberia and northern Kazakhstan, and as far as the northern reaches of the Black Sea. The tribes spoke Iranian languages, and the Persians distinguished between them by the shape of their hats and their lifestyles, according to The Current World Archeology website.


  • One of the most famous archeological finds in Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union, came in 1971 “when a Ukrainian archeologist literally stepped on a gold pectoral, a finely wrought semi-circular gold breastplate depicting Scythians at work, their herd animals, and mythical beasts such as gryphons. Herders and war-like, the Scythians’ war with the Persian king Darius is described by the Greek historian Herodotus, but they came to real prominence in the fourth century BC after they moved from the Near East to the territory of modern Ukraine, where they built a mighty kingdom,” Ivan Lozowy wrote for TOL in 2005.


  • After the first explorers of Siberia found gold artifacts at the beginning of the 18th century, Peter the Great decreed that all finds should be sent to him. His collection was put on display in the Kunstkamera, Russia’s first museum, which he established, and later in the Hermitage Museum.

Compiled by Ioana Caloianu

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