Horse sacrifice in a Pazyryk culture kurgan: the princely tomb of Berel’(Kazakhstan). Selection criteria and slaughter procedures

Sébastien LEPETZ

en Anthropozoologica 48 (2) - Pages 309-322

Published on 27 December 2013

This article is a part of the thematic issue Animals in Funerary space

The discovery of a Pazyryk frozen prince’s tomb in Berel’(Altaï, Kazakhstan) led to the unearthing of a funerary chamber enclosing two human bodies and thirteen horse bodies. The horses were buried harnessed beside the humans and some of them were wearing masks and two fake ibex horns in gold-painted wood. Meticulous excavation and the study of the equids resulted in a description of the animals and revealed the importance of their position in the tomb – as well as the selection criteria that led to their sacrifice.


Sacrifice, horse, Pazyryk culture, Scythia, Central Asia, tombs, Kurgan, funeral rituals.

Download full article in PDF format Order a reprint