200 Unique Medieval Horsemen Sculptures Found in the Himalayas
A combined Russian-Indian expedition that has been searching the Himalaya Mountain’s area bordering India and Pakistan for the past three years, has discovered 200 “Medieval Stone Horsemen” dating back to the 5th century AD.
Peculiar Medieval Sculptures Unearthed in the Himalayas
As the Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported, Vyacheslav Molodin, deputy director of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the SB RAS, told journalists that the expedition launched in India in 2014, has been particularly productive this year.
Exploring hard to reach areas of the Himalayas – on the border of India and Pakistan – researchers uncovered the unusual caches, “Two ritual complexes were discovered here, it is far and high in the mountains, where it is not easy to get there,” Molodin said as The Earth Chronicles report, pointing out how difficult it was for the archaeologists to explore this harsh and unwelcoming area of the mountain. According to Molodin’s statements, the sculptures portray anywhere from one to four people riding or sitting on a single horse, “About 200 stone horsemen were found in the sanctuary, and their specificity is that sometimes not one person sits on a horse, but two, three or four people,” he says.
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The stone statues discovered in the Himalayas vary from one to four riders and each appears uniquely decorated (Image: Science First Hand)
The Russian scientist also added that despite all sculptures being created in the same style, they appear to be different from each other.
Natalia Polosmak’s Role in the Discovery
According to the evaluation of Natalia Polosmak, the leader of this expedition, the sculptures date back to the 5 th century AD, a period of time we know as the early Middle Ages. This was quickly understood by the decoration of the horses and other details that revealed the age of the sculptures.
Natalia Polosmak, a Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and an expert in ancient Siberian cultures, has an illustrious record of incredible discoveries in icy temperatures. Almost 24 years ago, Polosmak was excavating on the Ukok Plateau when she uncovered what later became globally known as the “Ice Maiden.” As reported in a 2014 Ancient Origins article, Polosmak discovered the 2,500-year-old mummy of a woman found in 1993 in a kurgan (mound) of the Pazyryk culture in the Republic of Altai, Russia. It was considered to be among the most significant archaeological findings in Russia of the late 20th century.
‘The Icemaiden’ or Utok Princess was discovered by Polosmak in Russia 1993 (Public Domain)
The Ice Maiden, also known as the “Princess of Ukok” and the “Altai Princess of Ochi-Bala,” believed to be only 25-28 years old when she died. She was found to be intricately tattooed, while she was beautifully dressed with a black felt headdress which was found intact, and decorated with figures that indicated her high social status. She wore a necklace of wooden camels and high boots of leather. Her dress was of woven camel hair and sheep's wool with braided tassels and colored red with insect dye. More tattooed mummies were also extracted from the permafrost at the site.
While Polosmak and her team were excavating the site and defrosting the artifacts with water from a nearby lake heated with blow torches, rumors circulated among the indigenous Ukok people that disturbing the dead would have dire consequences. The engine of the helicopter that Polosmak used to fly the remains of the maiden to Russia failed, resulting in an emergency landing and some damage to the Ice Maiden for lack of refrigeration. This was taken as a sign that the maiden did not like being disturbed.
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Little is known about the origins of the ritual complexes ((Image: Science First Hand)
Questions Seeking an Answer
Back to the most recent discovery that Natalia Polosmak is involved in and there are many questions raised by the find. These are the only statues of their type to be found, with multiple riders and intricate decoration. Very little appears to be known at present about the two ritual complexes where the sculptures were found, while nothing is known yet about the people who carved them. Who carved these sculptures and why? Was this area the first to develop public transportation in the territory? “Some mysteries and myths that are yet to be read: all these sculptures are voluminous, richly decorated with carvings,“ Molodin says as The Earth Chronicles report. And adds, “But what kind of population is this is a big problem, because there was nothing like it in the iconography in India before, it’s some kind of population that suddenly appeared in the Himalayas, settled in hard-to-reach areas and left such a trace.”
Natalia Polosmak is now expected to stay there and explore for more artifacts and potential remains, in hope to give some answers to the many questions regarding the mysterious discovery.
Top image: About 200 stone statues from the Middle Ages discovered in the Himalayas (Image: Science First Hand)