Mysterious warriors of Ustyurt

Ustyurt is a kind of historical reserve. Throughout the plateau, traces of ancient civilizations are scattered – cemeteries with majestic mausoleums, minarets and underground temples, 60 Neolithic sites, parking of the ruins of the ancient city of Shahr-i-Wazir, the caravanserai of Beleuli and Allan Fortress. But what was discovered in 1983 was a sensation – nothing like this was found in the Eurasian steppes before.

34 years ago in the west of the Ustyurt plateau near the wells of Baite archaeologists discovered about 70 sculptures of male warriors – as many as were found all Scythian stone stele in the steppes of the Black Sea coast for 100 years of searches.


Edge of the Ustyurt Plateau

Of course, after such an opening a special group of freight forwarders went there.

“Some of the wreckage was so massive that it was impossible to move them from one person to another, probably the imposing sight was represented by this gallery in the sun.There, in the direction of sunset, towards the” Land of the Dead “their faces were turned …” – wrote then the head of the expedition Lev Galkin.


Torso warrior from the Bayte Sanctuary

All the sculptures were located on the hills with a good circular view at a distance of 1 to 4 kilometers from each other, and from one cult complex one could see the following. There were 3 in total.


Stella with runes on the plateau of Ustyurt

The Bayte-1 complex consists of a “royal” mound 4 meters high and two smaller burial mounds. It was obvious that the first mound, near which once stood about 25 monuments, was plundered in ancient times, so archaeologists found only one beak-shaped stone altar.

About one kilometer from this complex is Baite-2, where no sculptures have been found. But in its vicinity archaeologists discovered a quarry in which white and pink limestone was mined, which served as a material for making sculptures.

4 kilometers to the south-east of it is a group of mounds of the Bayte-3 complex, the layout of which resembles the first complex. However, to the west of the central barrow compactly in the form of the letter “P” lay 50 broken statues. Also on Bait-3, 2 stone sacrificial tables were found, which indicated one thing: these complexes are a sanctuary.


Sanctuary on the mound

Despite the fact that all the sculptures were felled and damaged, the scientists still managed to determine their original position – they were located in groups of 2-4 idols at a short distance from each other, forming a stone army up to 4 meters high.

Most of the statues resembled the figure of a standing man with his right hand lowered and pressed to the stomach of his left. The protruding cheekbones of their faces and the lack of beards in some cases suggested that they were of Mongoloid origin, although some of them also have European features. On some broken statues, the relief images of swords, bows and daggers were clearly visible. Scientists believed that these structures belong to the Massagets, who lived in the IV-III centuries BC, and of whom nothing is known until now.


The head of the warrior from the sanctuary

Almost the only source of information about these tribes are the works of Herodotus. He wrote that Massagets are a warlike and powerful people who worshiped the Sun and sacrificed horses. They believed in the afterlife, so they built the sanctuaries of their ancestors and protected them.

Also according to the father of history, the Massagets fought on horses and on foot, and their armament consisted of bows, spears, daggers and battle axes. The people’s morals were simple and unpretentious: if the woman liked the massaget, he simply hung a quiver with arrows on her tent, so that no one would enter, and stayed with his chosen one.


On the mound

Where exactly the lands of Massagetan civilization were located is unknown, but unequivocally they bordered on the countries of Central Asia that were part of the Achaemenid empire. In the IV century BC, according to some reports, the Massagets and their queen Tomiris stopped the advance to the east of the army of the Persian king Cyrus, who was trying to seize their territory. The first battle the nomadic people lost, and in the captivity of the Achaemenids was the son of Queen Spargapis, but the second completely decided the outcome of the war.

Herodotus wrote: “This battle I consider the most brutal of those battles that the barbarians had … Fighting, they staunchly held on for a long time, and neither of them wanted to flee, but in the end the Massagets gained the upper hand. Most of the Persian army was destroyed immediately on the spot, and Cyrus himself was killed … ”


On the mound

When Alexander of Macedon came to the eastern lands, his most implacable enemies were again militant Massagets. It is believed that at that time some of the Massaget tribes that did not submit to the invaders left for the Mangyshlak Peninsula, and the other part of the tribes became part of the population and dissolved in the population of Central Asia: an image of the same sign was stamped on stone sculptures, Massaget sacrificial dishes and Khorezmian coins.


Stone blocks of the Bayte 3 complex

But back to the stone giants of Ustyurt. To whom of the Massaget leaders was erected a tomb