In a remarkable archaeological find, an international team led by experts from Freie Universität Berlin has revealed an ancient prehistoric fortress in the secluded Siberian region of Amnya. The findings, detailed in the scientific journal “Antiquity,” showcase a complex defensive system surrounding a settlement that dates back a staggering 8,000 years.
The fortress spans two distinct clusters, namely Amnya I and Amnya II. Amnya I boasts well-preserved features like banks and ditches enclosing a promontory’s tip, along with ten house pit depressions. Meanwhile, Amnya II, located approximately 50 meters to the east, comprises an open settlement with ten additional house pits.
Excavations have brought to light approximately 45 pottery vessels within this expansive complex. These vessels include pointed and flat-based forms, representing two distinct typological traditions.
The Amnya settlement complex marks the beginning of an enduring trend—a nearly continuous tradition of defensive sites among hunter-gatherers in northern Eurasia that persisted for almost eight millennia until the Early Modern period.
Tanja Schreiber, an archaeologist from the Institute of Prehistoric Archaeology in Berlin and a co-author of the study, notes, “Through detailed archaeological examinations at Amnya, we collected samples for radiocarbon dating, confirming the prehistoric age of the site and establishing it as the world’s oldest-known fort.”
Schreiber added, “Our new palaeobotanical and stratigraphical examinations reveal that inhabitants of Western Siberia led a sophisticated lifestyle based on the abundant resources of the taiga environment.”
Unlike fortifications observed in coastal regions during later prehistoric periods, the construction of these early inland fortifications in western Siberia is unparalleled, challenging conventional views of ancient human communities. The discovery prompts a reconsideration of the notion that permanent settlements with elaborate architecture and intricate social systems solely emerged with the advent of agriculture.
This groundbreaking revelation not only reshapes our understanding of ancient civilizations but also highlights the sophistication of early human communities in Siberia, contributing to a new chapter in archaeological exploration.