Bronze Age Burial Site Reveals 180 Ankle Bones in Kazakhstan

In the expansive landscapes of Kazakhstan, a window to the distant past has been unveiled by archaeologists. This intriguing discovery, as reported by The Astana Times, revolves around the resting place of a young girl from the Bronze Age. Among the treasures entombed with her, a collection of 180 sheep ankle bones takes center stage, leaving us pondering their role and significance in Bronze Age Burial Site ancient rituals and beliefs.

Journey to the Bronze Age

Bronze Age Burial Site
A bronze disk featuring an engraved frog discovered within the burial site. Credit: Kazakh Ministry of Science and Higher Education.

The exact age of this burial site remains a subject of scholarly inquiry, but it can be traced back to approximately 2500 BC to 1800 BC. Valuable insights from Carbon-14 testing reveal that the girl, aged between 12 and 15 years, was laid to rest in a unique fashion. She donned delicate wire earrings and beaded jewelry while resting on her side, accompanied by an intriguing array of bones – 180 ankle bones, likely from sheep or bovines, along with three shoulder blades from cows.

An Enigmatic Collection of Animal Bones

Bronze Age Burial Site
An ancient burial mound located in Almaty, Kazakhstan. ( Source )

The abundance of animal bones within her tomb has fascinated researchers. While the inclusion of animal remains in burial sites is not uncommon on the Eurasian plains, the sheer number accompanying this young girl is undeniably extravagant. Experts remain divided on the significance of this practice. Some suggest that these ankle bones may have held religious importance and played a role in ancient rituals, while others interpret them as symbolic tokens of prosperity and blessings. They may have symbolized the hope for a smooth transition between realms in the afterlife.

Assyk: The Tradition of Sheep Ankle Bones

The sheep ankle bones, known as “assyk,” possess a rich historical connection to traditional Kazakh games, with roots that may reach back to the Bronze Age itself. These bones, often polished and adorned with intricate designs, hold a special place in Kazakh culture. In the traditional Assyk game, players take aim at a designated bone, striving to achieve the highest score through precision and skill.

Unveiling a Unique Bronze Age Pyramid

In a stunning parallel discovery, archaeologists have revealed a monumental pyramid structure in Kazakhstan. Believed to date back to the 2nd millennium BC, this steppe pyramid with its hexagonal foundation had remained hidden for centuries. Ulan Umitkaliyev, Head of Eurasian National University’s Archaeology and Ethnology Department, describes it as a masterpiece of precision. With thirteen meters and eight rows of stones between each face, this complex structure features numerous circles within its core and is adorned with intricate images of various animals, notably horses.

The significance of this pyramid in the heart of the Central Asian plains cannot be overstated. Its unveiling provides valuable insights into the advanced architectural skills of the Bronze Age civilization that once thrived here.


The discovery of the Bronze Age burial site of a young girl, with its enigmatic collection of 180 sheep ankle bones, offers a tantalizing glimpse into the beliefs and rituals of an ancient civilization in Kazakhstan. The mysteries surrounding these bones, whether religious or symbolic, continue to intrigue researchers. Additionally, the revelation of the hexagonal steppe pyramid adds another layer of fascination to this historical narrative, underscoring the sophistication of a bygone era.

As we delve deeper into the annals of history, we are reminded that every archaeological discovery unravels a piece of the human story, connecting us to our ancestors and their extraordinary world.

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