Facebook post by University of Helsinki

Greetings from Bulgaria, where archaeologists just made an exciting find in a Yamnaya kurgan, or burial mound! Like so many other research projects, the Yamnaya Impact project had a difficult COVID year. Fieldwork was postponed, to the dismay of both project leaders and students. In July, the team of 13 archaeologists, half of them our students, finally got out there. They chose a 3 meters high burial mound. And the excavation was “a huge success”, in the words of project leader, professor Volker Heyd. The chosen burial mound turned out to be a treasure trove. The team found 16 graves from a 5,000-year time span. The newest grave was from the 20th century. Digging deeper, the archaeologists found a cremation burial in a stone slab cist, probably Thracian from ca 300–200 BC. Beneath that lay a group of nine Middle Bronze Age graves from ca 2000–1500 BC, all in side-crouched, extremely contracted body positions. Even deeper down were two Yamnaya secondary graves ca 2700 BC. The best part was still to come. At the bottom of the mound, the team found something really exciting: Two connected graves from ca 3,000 BC. In them lay a 180 cm tall man around the age of 50 and a 2-year-old boy. The boy must have been a very special child. He was not only buried with five small pieces of silver jewellery. His family also erected a 15 meters wide and 1 meter high mound over his grave. It later grew as more people were laid to rest in the location. Were they father and son? Brothers? We don’t know yet, but genetics will eventually tell us. Whatever their relation, this boy was the richest Yamnaya child ever excavated between the Urals in Russia and the Tisza river in Hungary. The Yamnaya Impact project studies massive changes that happened in Europe ca 5,000 years ago, caused by the immigration of a people called the Yamnaya. These changes are still visible today in e.g. genetic ancestry, social organisation, and European languages. Find out more about the Yamnaya Impact research project on our website! https://www2.helsinki.fi/en/researchgroups/the-yamnaya-impact-on-prehistoric-europe We also want to extend a warm thank you to our local collaboration partners, Национален археологически институт с музей - БАН and professor Stefan Alexandrov, whose support was crucial to this excavation.