Two bones of the animal were found at the Yylgandly-depe monument
The second rear phalanx of the tiger Aleksei Kasparov and Natalia Solov’yova / International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 2022
Archaeologists during the excavation of the Yylgandly-depe site discovered two bones of a tiger, preyed at the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC. These finds are the first evidence of hunting for large cats in the Eneolithic era, spread in the south of modern Turkmenistan. Moreover, according to the researchers, the skin of the killed animal seems to have been used for ritual purposes. This is reported in an article accepted for publication in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology.
Since the 1980s, in the southeast of modern Turkmenistan, about 240 kilometers from Ashgabat, archaeologists have been exploring the early agricultural settlement of Yylgyndly-depe, which today is a hill of about 14 hectares. Excavations have shown that a settlement on this site formed in the middle – the second half of the 5th millennium BC, that is, in the era of the early Eneolithic, and lasted until 3100-2900 BC. During this time, scientists have discovered here the remains of unusual architectural complexes, which they identified as sanctuaries, front rooms or quasi-temple complexes. In addition, the researchers opened living rooms, workshops and production and utility yards.
Yylgandly-depe is known not only for its architecture, but also for wall paintings, clay and stone anthropomorphic plastics, a large number of copper artifacts, indicating a high level of development of metallurgy. Among the striking finds of recent years, a female figurine, which resembles a ballerina. According to researchers, this terracotta figurine depicts a naked woman performing a ritual dance.
Aleksei Kasparov and Natalia Solov’yova from the Institute of the History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences presented two finds made in 2019 during excavations at the Yylgandly-Depe site. In the cultural layer dating back to the Eneolithic, archaeologists have found two bones of a large predatory cat. Further studies showed that they represent the proximal part of the right third posterior metapodia and the second posterior phalanx of the finger, which belonged to a tiger ( Panthera tigris ). The layer in which they were found dates back to the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC.
Tiger bones found at the Yylgandly-depe settlement. Aleksei Kasparov and Natalia Solov’yova / International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 2022
On the phalanx of the finger, the researchers noticed distinct traces left by tools. Their location indicates that the man removed the skin along with the third phalanges and claws. Presumably, the skin was used for ritual purposes, since it is unlikely that the claws would have needed to be left for making clothes or hanging a doorway. Moreover, such a procedure required great physical effort, which may also indicate an unusual purpose for the prey.
According to archaeologists, tiger bones have never been found at the ancient monuments of this region. In the scientific literature, they found references only to the bones of lynxes ( Lynx ), excavated in medieval layers on two sites. In addition, the remains of a wild cat, according to preliminary data, were found at the Bronze Age settlement of Ulug-depe, located near Yylgandly-depe. However, there is no information about the species of these bones yet. Archaeologists have concluded that the new finds are the first and so far the only evidence of massive hunting during the Eneolithic era in the south of modern Turkmenistan.
Earlier, on N + 1 , it was reported that archaeologists discovered a settlement of the Oksa civilization in the south of Turkmenistan. It existed in the valley of the Tejen River around 2250-1700 BC, that is, in the Middle and Late Bronze Age. ///Originally published on N+1 portal on 12 Dec 2022