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December 03, 2008

The Golden Man

One of the most fascinating things I discovered on my visit to Almaty was the story of finding the "Golden Man". Those who read the National Geographic regularly will recall an article on the finding of an ancient burial mound in Kazakhstan around four or five years ago. The actual find had been made some years before and caused quite a stir in the world of archaeology at the time. The burial mound, when opened, contained the remains of a man, aged about 37 at the time of death, and dressed in the most amazing suit made entriely out of small gold plates, each about 1.5 inches, by 2.5 and 'stitched' together at the corners. It may once have been backed by a linen or even leather lining. In the grave with this golden warrior was a composite bow, a quiver full of beautifully made arrows and his personal weapons. Other grave goods made up a rich haul for the archaeologists and the this tomb is said to have been as rich or possibly richer find than that of Tutenkhamun's tomb in Egypt.

What made it even more exciting was the fact that it was at least 3,000 years old.

A statuette of the "Golden Man" presented to the Monk after the conference. He clutches his composite bow, his quiver is slung on his back and he stands upon a winged leopard. His golden suit is represented by the chequered hatching of his jacket. The tall hat is a forerunner of the hats still worn by the "Khan" or Chief of the tribesmen.

I didn't get to see the museum in which all the finds from this amazing tomb are displayed, perhaps one day I will, but there can be no doubt that the Kazakh people are inordinately, and rightly, proud of their rich heritage. This is an area which for thousands of years has been home to nomadic tribes who have given the world some amazing things - the composite bow is one such item - and who have left remarkably little trace of their occupation other than the numerous burial mounds which dot the landscape in certain areas. Almaty is built in an area with a very large number of the oldest mounds and not all have been fully examined.

So much to see - and so little time.

Posted by The Gray Monk at December 3, 2008 02:43 PM

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