Russian archaeologists have found a burial site, dating back almost 4,500 years, that contains weapons, including battle-axes and spears, belonging to groups from the warlike Fatyanovo culture.
The find was made during building work for a new school, and is a significant event for Russian archaeology, since no similar site has been uncovered for the past quarter-century.
‘What’s special about these finds are their extreme rarity,’ said Dr Asya Engovatova, Deputy Director of the RAS Institute of Archaeology. ‘We could never hope to predict such finds. The last time a site of this kind was uncovered was 25 years ago – a huge interval, in scientific terms. Over the intervening period new research technologies have become available, meaning that we can analyse these artefacts at an entirely new level.’
The Fatyanovo culture is identified by archaeologists as a period of the Middle Bronze Age, with sites that are widely spread over the modern-day area of western Russia, Poland, the Baltic States, Finland, Belarus, and Germany.Fatyanovo sites are characterised by finds of ceramics with ‘corded’ ornamentation, and of weaponry such as battle-axes. It seems to have been a funeral tradition to inter all men with their battle-axes, judging by most burial sites.
During the mid 3rd millenium BC, tribes of this ‘battle-axe’ culture began migrating eastwards along river valleys – either clashing or living peaceably with the local hunter-fisher-gatherer tribes who had lived there previously.
The Fatyanovo people were the first to first to raise cattle in the forest zones of the Russian plains, to practise slash-and-burn agriculture, and to engage in metalworking with copper and bronze. Then, some three millennia ago, the Fatyanovo people disappeared – dispersed among the tribes of the Volga and Oka cultures.