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The Golden Man of Kazakhstan

The Reburial of a 2500-year-old Cursed Ancient Warlord


Last year, the Kazakh Culture Ministry ordered the reburial of the remains of an ancient warlord in the Shiliktinskaya Valley in eastern Kazakhstan after elders claimed that a curse associated with the warlord was the cause of a series of calamities and misfortunes in the region.

The remains of the individual, known as ‘the Golden Man’ due to the abundance of jewellery and gold-plated armour adorning the body, were dug up in 2003 during an archaeological excavation of a burial mound in Shiliktinskaya Valley.  It is believed that they are that of a leader of the Saka tribe, a branch of the Scythian nomads that populated Central Asia and southern Siberia about 3000 years ago. Although the remains have come to be known as the 'Golden Man', there has been some debate over whether the individual could have been female - the Scythians were known to have female warriors. 

More than 4,000 golden pieces were found adorning the Golden Man. Photo source.

Since the discovery of the Golden Man, the area suffered a series of problems including floods, a drought, high atmospheric pressure, storms, heavy snowfall, a mass loss of livestock and an increase in births of children with learning disabilities. As a result, there was widespread unrest among the locals who claim the calamities were caused by a curse and campaigned for years to have the warlord reburied to ‘appease his spirit’.

While archaeologists and scholars have argued that the areas’ problems are simply the result of climate change, the Culture Ministry ordered the body to be reinterred in June, 2013.

The move follows a similar occurrence in Russia’s republic of Altai, which returned a 2,500-year-old mummy found in Siberia in 1993 to its local area after citizens campaigned for two decades to have it removed from the republic after it was blamed for causing a number of calamities.

Only time will tell whether the return of Golden Man to his resting place will lead to a new era of peace and prosperity in Shiliktinskaya Valley.

By April Holloway



Cassi's picture

How do they not know the gender? Did no one examine the pelvic bone? What has been done with this body? Why was it removed if it was not being studied?

aprilholloway's picture


April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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