An ancient ‘birdman’ has been unearthed in Siberia who was buried wearing a costume made of as many as 50 beaks — believed to be from herons or cranes.
It is believed the ancient man was a shaman who belonged to the Odinov culture which dominated the region in Western Siberia, according to reports.
A separate grave was also discovered nearby where archaeologists unearthed a multi-layered grave with what are believed to be a pair of 5,000-year-old Bronze Age ‘spectacles’.
Researcher Lilia Kobeleva of the Novosibirsk Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography and colleagues unearthed the finds at the Ust-Tartas archaeological site in the Novosibirsk region of Siberia.
‘The beaks were assembled at the back of the skull, along the neck, as if it was a collar that protected the owner when he lived here,’ Ms Kobeleva told the Siberian Times.
Alternatively, the beaks — of which there are estimated to be between around 30 and 50 — may have been part of a ritual costume, or an elaborate headdress or piece of armour.
The beaks will take months to painstakingly separate for study, the researchers said.
Although ornithologists have yet to fully analyse the beaks, it is thought that they likely came from either cranes or herons.
As the scientists have not found mounting holes in the beaks, it is not clear how they would have been attached to either each other or the fabric.
In its day, the item of clothing may have looked like those worn by the nameless monsters in M filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan’s 2004 mystery thriller The Village.
Close to the burial site of the so-called birdman, archaeologists found a double-layered grave, reported the Siberian Times.
Buried on top were two children estimated to have been aged five and ten at the time of their deaths.
Below them, beneath a wooden covering, was found the skeleton of an adult man, whose skull was found lying next a pair of what appear to be ‘spectacles’.
This bronze find comprised two hemispheres and a bridge.
Traces of organic matter were found inside the two hemispheres.
Archaeologists believe that the item could have been part of either a burial mask, or some other form of head gear, possibly also worn by a type of ancient shaman.
Along with the glasses, researchers also found five polished, crescent-shaped stone pendants, presumably used for rituals, which had lain next to the man’s left arm and around his waist.
‘These are unique items (and) we are very excited indeed to have found them,’ said Ms Kobeleva.
‘Both men must have carried special roles in the society,’ she added.
‘I say so because we have been working on this site for a while and unearthed more than 30 burials.
‘They all had interesting finds, but nothing we found earlier was as impressive as discoveries in these two graves.
‘We suppose both men were some kind of priest.’