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Zoo museum to display mammoth tusks and buffalo sculls

24 January 2018

Found by archaeologists, the remains of prehistoric animals that inhabited the Moscow area 15,000 years ago will be donated to the Moscow Zoo. As of 21 February, these finds will be on display at the Zoo History Museum.

On 21 February, the Moscow Zoo will put on display a unique collection of remains of extinct Ice Age animals. The Zoo History Museum will present two tusks, a spinal bone and a tooth that belonged to a young mammoth, as well as two adult buffalo sculls. These were found by archaeologists in a 15,000-year-old geological stratum revealed during the construction and beautification projects in Moscow.

“In 2018, the Moscow Zoo will turn 154 years old. To mark the event, Moscow archaeologists decided to give us a valuable gift – a unique collection of remains of Ice Age animals. These items will certainly be the centerpiece of the Zoo History Museum’s display. Our guests will know what animals inhabited Moscow many thousand years ago. These give really unique impressions and knowledge, which are precisely what our visitors want to get,” Moscow Zoo General Director Svetlana Akulova said.

“The remains of ancient animals were discovered at a depth of six metres in a geological stratum dating back 15,000 years. Specialists have traced all the finds to the late Pleistocene period, when the Earth’s animal population included mammoths, woolly rhinoceroses, cave lions, buffalos, yaks, and others,” Deputy Head of the Department of Cultural Heritage and Chief Archaeologist of Moscow Leonid Kondrashev said.

One of the latest finds, a young mammoth’s tusk, was discovered in a construction pit not far from the Skhodnya River. It is 1.5 metres long and weighs 10 kilograms. A similar find was made on Kutuzovsky Prospekt in 2016, when utilities were being laid. A buffalo scull was found near 6 Leninsky Prospekt in 2015 during construction work. In 2014, a buffalo scull was dug up by builders at the former Likhachev auto-works. The smallest find over the last few years was a two-kilo mammoth tooth found in a construction pit in 2015.

Excavations and archaeological monitoring conducted over the last two years have yielded over 10,000 artefacts, including Bronze Age silicon axes (Zaryadye) and Bronze Age stone axes (of the Fatyanovo–Balanovo culture) dated to the third-second millennia BC. Most of these have been donated to the Museum of Moscow.

A variety of preservation and museumification options are chosen for the artefacts, including small open-air archaeological museums in the city.


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