A bedazzling 2,800-year-old treasure has been unearthed by archaeologists in Kazakhstan. The treasure, which features over 3,000 valuable objects, belonged to elite members of the Saka people.

When Herodotus described the known world in the fifth century BC, he wrote that the Persians gave the name “Saka” to all Scythians. But five centuries later, another fabled historian, Pliny the Elder claimed that the Persians gave the name “Sakai” only to the Scythian tribes “nearest to them.” Whatever the case may be, we know that the Saka were a large group of Eurasian nomads, inhabiting areas in today’s Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan.

The Saka were a sophisticated civilization and often gave their leaders lavish funerals, with jewelry and other valuable items — this was also the case here. Gold beads, necklaces, and decorative objects, as well as spearheads, plaques, chains, and other valuable artifacts were uncovered, in one of the most impressive recent findings.

Archaeologists haven’t yet opened the graves, but they presume the tomb hosts a man and a woman — the rulers, or at the very least some very important people.

“’A large number of valuable finds in this burial mound let us believe a man and a woman are buried here – the reigning persons or people who belonged to the elite of Saka society,” said Professor Zainolla Samashev, who is in charge of the project.

The craftsmanship involved in the jewelry production is also impressive — particularly considering that they are 2,800 years old. Archaeologists uncovered gold beads used for decorating, which were made using intricate micro-soldering techniques, showing an exceptional level of jewelry-making skill.

Head of the East-Kazakhstan region Danial Akhmetov praised their skill in the mining and processing of precious metals. It also seems likely like they were able merchants, roaming the vast steppes and selling their goods to nearby populations.

“We are the heirs of the great people and great technologies,” he said.

The archaeology team is also confident that this isn’t the only valuable finding in the area — surroundings are riddled with over 200 burial mounds, many probably belonging to leaders and warlords. There’s a good chance many of these mounds were plundered, but there’s still room for optimism

‘There are a lot of burial mounds here and the prospects are very large,’ said leading Kazakh archeologist Yerben Oralbai.

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