Archaeologists have unearthed a massive stone structure in Kazakhstan, the likes of which have never been seen. Researchers are currently still at a loss to explain many of the features of the sprawling Stonehenge-like complex which stretches across 300 acres (120 hectares) of Kazakhstan’s Caspian Sea shoreline. The site was first discovered in 2010 by a local man who came across the remains of an ornate silver saddle buried in the ground. After the saddle was brought to the attention of Kazakh historians, several other artifacts were discovered at the site including a bronze-handled whip.
After years of securing the resources necessary to fully excavate the site, archaeologists Andrey Astafiev and Evgeniï Bogdanov were finally able to unearth the structure. What they found was nothing short of breathtaking. The structure is a sprawling stone complex composed of carved slabs of rock, some of which are the size of the stele at Stonehenge. Carbon dating revealed the structure was around 1,500 years old.
The researchers’ findings have been published in the awesomely-named journal Ancient Civilizations from Siberia to Scythia. According to the publication, it’s currently assumed that nomadic tribes of Huns built the structure as some sort of ritual gathering place.
While many of the artifacts recovered match those found at other Hun sites, many of the aspects of this structure remain a mystery:
The depictions of the animals and birds on the facings are unique and there are no precise parallels for them. At the same time certain parallels do exist for the way in which the metal has been worked using ‘strokes’ of incised lines and for the use of rectangles (such as those on the withers of the lions’ bodies) in materials from the period of the Huns.
The reason for the burial of the saddle currently remains a mystery, although it is speculated that it could have been interred as part of a ritual burial of an important tribal leader. Skeletal remains have been found at the site, but these have not been dated yet. While it’s assumed that this is a Hun site, it could also have been built by a previously unknown Turkic civilization which was later assimilated by the Huns.