INSET: Sarmatian nomad buried with beautifully crafted tattooing kit.

Today it was announced that a remarkable Sarmatian burial of a high-ranking Eurasian nomad was discovered this summer in Russia’s Ural steppes. Dating to the Early Iron Age of the 1st millennium BC, the male skeleton (pictured here) was accompanied with numerous funerary objects, including a silver-lidded vanity case containing a gold pectoral, glass and silver flasks, and red ochre-stained horse teeth, among other items.

Nearby lay a large silver mirror decorated with stylized animals executed in the Scythian-Siberian artistic style, garments adorned with plaques depicting rosettes and a panther leaping on a saiga’s (antelope) back as well as 395 pressed pieces of gold leaf. Two cast gold earrings decorated with cloisonné enamel were found near the cranium of deceased.

But what is most intriguing to me is the recovery of ancient tattooing equipment, including two stone mixing palettes and iron, gold covered needles, as well as bone spoons used to blend paints and pens decorated with animals.

The extraordinary find was made by Dr. Leonid T. Yablonsky and his team. Prof. Yablonsky is head of the Scythian-Sarmatian Department of the Institute of Archaeology, Russian Academy of Sciences.