October 12, 2010

Bronze Age Civilization Discovered In Russia

Researchers said Monday that traces of a previously unknown Bronze Age civilization have been discovered in the peaks of Russia's Caucasus Mountains because of aerial photographs taken 40 years ago.

"We have discovered a civilization dating from the 16th to the 14th centuries BC, high in the mountains south of Kislovodsk," in Russia's North Caucasus region, Andrei Belinsky, the head of a joint Russian-German expedition that has been investigating the region for five years, told AFP.

He said the team discovered stone foundations, some up to 3.3 feet high, all "visibly constructed according to the same architectural plan, with an oval courtyard in the center, and connected by roads."

The sites are spread over 60 miles between the Kuban River in the west and the city of Nalchik in the east.

The discovery helps indicate that the civilization is linked to the Kuban civilization, which was discovered at the end of the 19th century at the foot of Mount Kazbek, and is known for its artistic bronze works.

The discovery of this older civilization "was possible thanks especially to old black-and-white photographs taken in the Soviet Union," Dmitry Korobov, another participant in the expedition, told AFP.

The archaeologists used photographs to uncover the sites, which were at a height of between 4,620 feet and 7,920 feet.  Valentina Kozenkova, an archaeologist specializing in the Caucasus at the Russian Academy of Sciences, told AFP that the discovery was a historical importance.

"This is a discovery without parallel, notably for the number of sites found in the same place," she said.

"The impact of this work is even more important because these 200 sites are in very good condition thanks to their location," she told AFP.


Image Caption: This aerial photograph, taken in the 1970's, shows a stone structure in the mountains south of Kislovodsk.