Anthropological reconstruction of the physical appearance of the king and queen from the early Scythian burial

and memorial complex of Arzhan-2 

Veselovskaya E.V., Galeev R.M. (Moscow, Russian Federation)


              page 112122


Arzhan-2, the archaeological site of world significance, a national treasure of peoples of Tuva and Russia, located in the Valley of Kings (Piy-Khemsk District, Tyva Republic), was investigated in 20012004 by the Central Asian Archaeological Expedition of the State Hermitage Museum headed by K.V. Chugunov. The sites has been dated to the 7th c. BC and attributed to the Scythian-Siberian cultural community. When exploring the royal burial of the early Scythian site of Arzhan-2, the scientists faced the questions of the origin of the buried, periodization and chronology of the monument, its archaeological-cultural attribution, the autochthonous nature of the population that left it, and its relationship with other Eurasian early nomadic cultures. The present study is addressing the most important issue of the appearance of the buried people and characteristics of their anthropological type. The material for the study was comprised of male and female skulls from burial 5 of Arzhan-2 mound. The article describes in detail the process of reconstruction of the physical appearance of the deceased and provides examples of calculating ante mortem parameters based on craniometric measurements. The complex stages of preliminary work related to the restoration of skulls and manufacturing of their exact copies are highlighted. The results of the physical appearance reconstruction are presented in the form of visual museum objects sculptural portraits. The scientific reconstruction of the ante mortem appearance on skulls of the king and queen was carried out in the Laboratory of Anthropological Reconstruction of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences by anthropologists Drs E.V. Veselovskaya and R.M. Galeev. In anthropological terms, the buried show a peculiar mosaic of Caucasoid and Mongoloid features. They are characterized by brachycephaly and dome-shaped head, with notably developed rugosity of the supercilium in the man and its absence in the woman. For the man, an average width of the face and a narrow forehead of medium height are noted. The woman has broad face and forehead, the height of the forehead is average. Both portraits are characterized by prominent position of eyeballs and large eyes. Mans nose is short, prominent, with convex dorsum. Womans nose has a wavy dorsum, and is slightly prominent. On the male portrait, the cheekbones are moderate, on the female one high and prominent. Faces of the royal persons are flattened in the upper part, with a certain degree of alveolar prognathism. The lower jaw of the man is medium in size, narrow in the corners. For the woman, some gracility of the lower jaw can be noted.

Key words: funeral-memorial complex Arzhan-2, anthropological reconstruction of appearance, paleo-anthropology, early Scythians of Tuva, museology.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License

Accepted: 02.03.2020

Article is published: 05.06.2020


E.V. Veselovskaya

Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology them. N.N. Miklouho-Maclay RAS, Leninsky prosp., 32a, Moscow, 119991, Russian Federation

Russian State University for Humanities, Miusskaya sq., 6, Moscow, 125993, Russian Federation



Galeev R.M.

Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology them. N.N. Miklouho-Maclay RAS, Leninsky prosp., 32a, Moscow, 119991, Russian Federation