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The barbarian warrior woman (Image: North Caucasus united archaeolog)

2,000-Year-Old Warrior Woman Discovered with Rare Gems

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An ancient warrior woman has been found in the Russian republic of Kabardino-Balkaria wearing rare Roman jewelry.

Believed to have been related to a warrior or chieftain, the ancient woman was discovered in a family tomb in the mountainous North Caucasus in the Russian republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, between Russia and Georgia, and she was found wearing two “very valuable rings” featuring dark glass centers. 

Thought to be almost 2,000 years old, this high-status female is thought to have been from the Alans warrior people who arrived in Caucasus in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD and evidence suggests she was the wife, sister or mother of a prominent male, which archaeologists partly conclude based on the “pricelessness” of her jewelry.

The warrior woman was found buried at the bottom of a deep tomb (Image: North Caucasus united archaeolog)

The warrior woman was found buried at the bottom of a deep tomb (Image: North Caucasus united archaeolog)

Priceless Because Of No Blow

Archaeologist Dr Anna Kadieva from the State Historical Museum of Russia is head of an expedition at Zayukovo-2burial excavation site in North Caucasus and she told reporters the ancient woman was buried alongside a warrior and two other men.

A Daily Mail report says the two rings found on her fingers were manufactured using what Dr Kadieva calls quite ”complex technology” because they were both cast from transparent white glass with golden fibers, with a dark glass installation in the middle, “Roman-made is beyond any doubt”, adds Dr Kadieva.

A bright violet amethyst medallion was also discovered and archaeologists found that the beads found on the woman’s shoes were crafted of glass containing “carnelian”, which is an orangey mineral belonging to the Quartz family and widely used during Roman times in engraved gems for signet (or seal) rings for imprinting wax seals on correspondences.

And speaking of the tiny, delicate, ancient artifacts, Dr Kadieva said that the rings would have been quite “priceless” in what she calls the “barbarian” world of North Caucasus, where no glass production, or even blowing technology, existed at the time.

The violet amethyst medallion found in the tomb (Image: North Caucasus united archaeolog)

The violet amethyst medallion found in the tomb (Image: North Caucasus united archaeolog)

A High-Class Warrior

The woman’s bright violet amethyst medallion is also described by Dr Kadieva as a “priceless high class gem” and worthy of its gold casing, which together with the rings lead the archaeologists to the conclusion that wealthy warriors from North Caucasus had presented “expensive jewelry to their loved ones.” And because she was buried alongside a warrior in a family catacomb (tomb), with two other males, the woman is thought to have most likely been a mother, wife, or sister.

Situated between the Black and Caspian Seas, and intersected by the Greater Caucasus Mountains, the Caucasus isthmus is both a land bridge or a barrier between the Eurasian steppes and Western Asia. Surveys and excavations carried out by Soviet researchers up until the 1990s revealed the existence of archaeological sites from the beginning of the Holocene, approximately the last 11,700 years of Earth’s history.

According to the Oxford Archaeology Hand Book ancient people were distributed equally on the shores of the Black and Caspian Seas and in the Kura and Arax River basins and over the past twenty years several international missions have been conducted to supplement the Soviet research with new methods of archaeological investigation.

Jewels of War?

Roman soldiers reached South Caucasus at the end of the 2nd century BC and the Kingdom of Colchis was completely destroyed and incorporated into the Roman Empire as the province of Lazicum. The preceding 600 years of South Caucasian history were marked by the struggle between Rome and the Sassanids of Persia, who according to HistoryNet, allied with the Romans in the Roman-Persian Wars.

In 69 AD, with the Romans in the midst of civil war, the people of the kingdoms of Colchis (Caucasus) and Pontus, an ancient district in northeastern Anatolia adjoining the Black Sea, staged a major tribal uprising against Roman rule which ended unsuccessfully. These tiny, delicate and rare items of jewelry, found with the 2000-year-old woman’s remains, were all made and worn in these turbulent times when the “barbarians” of northern Europe were being conquered by Rome: artifacts of war.

Top image: The barbarian warrior woman (Image: North Caucasus united archaeolog)

By Ashley Cowie



Mary Madeline's picture

I love new finds of ancient bones

Mary Madeline

ashley cowie's picture


Ashley is a Scottish historian, author, and documentary filmmaker presenting original perspectives on historical problems in accessible and exciting ways.

He was raised in Wick, a small fishing village in the county of Caithness on the north east coast of... Read More

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