Sunday, March 23, 2014

Ring bearing

Objects began surfacing at the Ust-Polui site in Siberia in the 1930s. The place had spiritual importance for more than one tribe and was in use from the 1st c. to the 3rd c. A.D., but the culture left no written record. Archeologist Andrey Gusev of the Scientific Research Centre of the Arctic in Salekhard explains that each of the artifacts they find (EXAMPLES HERE) adds significantly to their knowledge base. When they discovered the high-quality bronze ring above in 2013, they were at first puzzled. Its diameter was too small to fit on the finger of a woman or even a young girl. But because of the image on the piece, and the fact that the culture had animistic beliefs, they concluded that the ring was fitted to the claw of a slain bear. The sacred animal, representing their ancestors, would have featured in a festival. In Gusev's words, '"The head and front paws [of] a bear [were] adorned with a handkerchief, rings, and a few days lying in the house. This combination of images on the ring and the fact that it was found in the sanctuary of Ust-Polui led us to believe that there was also practiced a bear cult."

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