The burial mound of an ancient Saka warrior was recently discovered in Eastern Kazakhstan. It contained over 15,000 ancient gold artefacts dating back to the 8th century BCE. The warrior died in his teenage years and has been nicknamed the “Golden Man”, not because of the horde of gold, but because of the level of preservation.
This discovery is incredibly rare as only one other intact burial site built by the ancient Saka people is known to exist. The first mound was discovered in Southern Kazakhstan in 1969 at the Issyk burial mound and contained a warrior with gold-embroidered armor. This most recent discovery was made at the at Eleke Sazy burial mounds.
Over 300 of these freshly unearthed artefacts dating back to around 2700-2800 years ago are set to be displayed in the UK by the Cambridge Fitzwilliam Museum. The exhibition will be titled “Gold of the Great Steppe” and begins on September 28th, 2021. Also, it’s free for anyone who wants to visit. The museum is excited to bring the remnants of this lost ancient culture to light and is grateful that they get to be involved. With thousands of museums in existence, it is quite the honor to possess and present these objects.
The “Golden Man” teenager was an archer warrior. He was buried with horse harness ornaments, jewelry, and more. The exhibit will show how this warrior was found buried with the golden items placed around him to symbolize his status and power.
These items are being subjected to non-invasive methods of analysis by researchers working for Cambridge University. This means that the items will not be damaged during inspection.
“We look forward to bringing the extraordinary culture of the Saka people to life for our audiences and are grateful to our partnership with East Kazakhstan without which enlightening exhibitions such as these would simply not be possible.”
Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum
The Saka culture was highly active around 700’s to 200’s BCE, about 2800-2200 years ago. Many of their burial mounds have been illegally plundered, their possessions removed. This new find will provide a wealth of insight into these people and how they lived.
Elite Saka are known to have been buried with their treasures and horses but more has been lost to history than that which has been saved. What little we do know is that this culture had many brutal warriors and skilled crafts-people.
“It has been proven that the Saka created truly unique jewellery masterpieces, using technological processes that were advanced for their time, constructed grandiose and exceptionally complex religious, funerary and memorial monuments.”
Danial Akhmetov, Governor of the East Kazakhstan region of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Luckily a rockslide hid this burial’s location until now. Otherwise it’s likely that it would have been looted too.
“We are confident that the exhibition, and the research carried out around it, will open to the public new pages in the history of both the East Kazakhstan region, and all humankind.”
Cambridge News reported on this and provided a few images of some related treasures, but DailyMail had the best images that I found while reading about this discovery. The cover image for this article is a photo I found on Pexels and is not of the golden artefacts. Cambridge News and DailyMail have more relevant photos to share.
If you enjoyed this news, you might enjoy some other recently published news:
 – Russell, Sam & Alya Zayed. “Rare golden burial artefacts to go on display in Cambridge museum” (9 Aug. 2021). https://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/cambridge-news/rare-golden-burial-artefacts-go-21256624. Accessed 9 Aug. 2021.
 – Dollimore, Laurence. “Treasures of a teenage warrior: 2,700-year-old gold artefacts that belonged to young archer and tribe of Saka people in Kazakhstan will go on display in UK for first time”. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9874997/Saka-artefacts-Kazakhstan-display-Cambridge.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490. Accessed 9 Aug. 2021.
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