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Origin of the Alans
Speaking of fatal injuries due to sharp objects, below is an article in Forbes magazine about a 7th-6th Century BC Scythian/Saka warrior whose body was buried in the Kotais Kurgan in central Kazakhstan. The body had a bronze arrowhead embedded in his spine and the king or noble still lived for some time after receiving this injury apparently. Seems he also had rib injuries from fighting and must have been a tough old rooster.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kristinakill...cc77e27115

   
The arrowhead lodged in the vertebra: (a) computed tomography generated 3D model, damage of the warhead can be seen.
(b) graphical reconstruction based on computed tomography cross sections (by A. L. Kungurov).



The full article can be requested from the author, Svetlana Tur on Academia. Smile

Regards
Michael Kerr
Michael Kerr
"You can conquer an empire from the back of a horse but you can't rule it from one"
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~ Last Ride of The Hu Warrior: Part 1 ~

Thanks, Michael. It's amazing what archaeology can tell us-- how a warrior was wounded and what era he lived in.
I've just acquired 13 bronze artifacts from the Northern Zone, sold to me by a dealer in Singapore, and described as originating in the Spring and Autumn Period (770BC to 476BC)... a very accurate assessment. Like the arrowhead you posted, these bronze artifacts tell a story. Two bridle pieces are "Ordos bronzes," another piece is a snaffle bit, and eight are bridle links, all from a Hu warrior's horse. Additionally, two more pieces are bone cowries (the warrior's personal possessions).

What is most important, the combined collection gives us some insight into the "Clan of the White Ram," and a direct link to the tribe of Fu Hao-- "woman of the Hao tribe." They also give us a clue to the initial migration of the Andronovo people into the Tarim Basin, then eastward to finally reach the steppe zone above Anyang and Beijing, specifically the Xi-hu (Tarim tribes), Loufan (Ordos tribes), and the Lin-hu (Mountain tribes). These Indo-Iranian groups (when we look at them through an anthropologist's eye) arose from the Andronovo culture, and all can be tentatively assigned to the Yuezhi group. A fourth and unrelated tribe of Hu-- the Dong-hu (Tunghu)-- were easternmost and appear to be predecessors of the Manchurians.


   
Here is the Northern Zone during the Spring and Autumn Period, the various Hu living just north of the states of Qin, Jin, and Yan. The bronze remnants of the Hu warrior and his horse come from this area, possibly narrowed down to the Ordos (the "hump" in the Yellow River north of Qin) or eastward into the State of Yan.


   
   
Upper photo, the horse's snaffle bit showing comparative size by the fingers of my hand. The age of this bit is ambiguous, made anytime from 800 BC to modern times. Precise examples, almost exactly the same, have been found in Bactria, the Altai, and at Arzhan. Second photo, Bactrian examples.


   
   
We now turn to the bridle links. First photo, the dealer's picture since the links are still in transit from Singapore; only four of the eight examples are shown. Second photo, two bridle links (left and right) in the assemblage of the c. 500 BC Pazyryk warrior mistakenly identified as a "young woman," then corrected by the Siberian Times to male gender. The Hu warrior's links are identical to the Pazyryk example.


   
Now to the warrior's bronze cowrie money. (Correction!!-- these are bone, stained green due to proximity of the bronze artifacts) Cowrie shells were used in China from the Neolithic to the Zhou Period. Cowries (specifically Cypraea moneta) came from a single location-- the Maldive Islands south of India-- and document trade routes back to the Stone Age.) In the Shang period, over 6,700 cowrie shells were buried with Fu Hao. Starting in the late Shang and culminating in the Western Zhou period, bronze and bone cowries were popular substitutes for the real thing. By the Spring and Autumn period, styles of money changed into bronze knife and spade forms. So, these bone cowries were either the warrior's personal collectibles or they were antiquated money still in use.

The other items (the two bridle plaques) define the warrior's specific culture. Both are "Ordos style" and akin to Pazyryk animal art. I'll discuss and show each of them separately in my next two posts.
Thank you for following this thread. Smile
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
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~Last Ride of The Hu Warrior: Part 2~

We now turn to bridle's forehead ornament. The piece is a lost wax casting designed "en face" or frontal, an unusual style (although there are Pazyryk examples). Most "Scythian" plaques were depicted in profile; and even fully rounded pieces were designed to be viewed from the side.


   
Here is the dealer's photo. The forehead piece is raptor-like, yet has ears and curved horns. Due to damage, we have only the left side intact. The raptor beak is hooked; and all Pazyryk and Saka examples also have a hooked beak.


   
To visualize the possible design of this bridle from a Hu warrior's horse, we can look at one of the bridle reconstructions on a Berel 11 horse. In this Berel example, we find two raptors, one at the forehead and another at the muzzle, both horned and with ears.


   
We have no idea why Saka/Scythian/Yuezhi raptors have ears (and often, horns) but they seem to represent a mythical gryphon-like animal. This Pazyryk example is fairly generic, cast in profile.


   
Our final photo shows the forehead ornament in my hand, giving an idea of its actual size. The piece is unique, and no images of nearly identical versions have been published. Since it's a lost-wax product, the probable maker was a Hu craftsman from the Northern Zone in the Yinshan and Helanshan areas. He would be a member of either the Lin-hu, Loufan, or Yuezhi. This Hu warrior wasn't particularly rich, yet affluent enough to purchase bridle fittings from a skilled bronze craftsman.

Stay tuned for the bridle's nose or muzzle piece, an object that might have links to Fu Hao's culture.   Wink
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
Reply
Those are most definitely gryffins.
The en face designs are not common in Scytho-Siberian stuff (as you said), while they're quite common in Greek art styles (the Gorgon, which Scythians adopted sometimes) and in China - iirc there's a wooden tiger piece from Pazyryk that looks very Chinese.
The way the eyes are sculpted and shaped on your piece also makes me think of Chinese equivalents.
Jan Pospisil - fantasy/historical/archaeology illustration
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~Last Ride of The Hu Warrior: Part 3~

Thanks, Jan, for your insight. En face depictions are not the norm in "Scythian" art, and (like you noted) I have seen very few, examples being mostly tigers, a "chance find" bone plaque in the Hermitage Collection, another from Tuekta Mound 1 made from wood, and a wolf's head also from Tuekta 1. Chinese examples don't show gryphons.


   
This brings us to the nose or muzzle piece of the Hu warrior's horse bridle. Also en face, it's a Himalayan blue sheep looking directly at us; and it's the reason I purchased the collection. We see plenty of argali sheep in Altai art and petroglyphs, lots of deer and horses, but I've never encountered a blue sheep in Pazyryk art, nor is it common in Chinese art.


   
Blue sheep are basically "mountain goats" and have two horn variations, almost straight and sweeping rearward (like on the lost wax nose-piece) or curved (actually recurved like in this photo) and similar to the pieces of Elite Burial M30 of the Yan commander (Origin of the Alans, post #61). The blue sheep has a very interesting geographical range. Not counting the Himalayan Plateau, we find the species located west to east in the following order-- lower Altai, Tien Shan, Qilian Shan, and finally the Helan Shan and Yin Shan right in the middle of Yuezhi/Loufan/Linhu territory.

   
Color variants of the blue sheep run from brown, to dark gray, to light gray with white tipping. The latter variation can easily be identified with the "Clan of the White Ram." The great importance of the male blue sheep can be found in the straighter variations of its horns. The material is ideal for constructing the compressed rear side of composite bows, and cannot be exceeded by ibex horn. This is the great value of the blue sheep.

   
A search for additional en face depictions of blue sheep came up empty-- with the singular exception of this one. It's carved from jade and part of Fu Hao's personal collection. As you might be aware, an increasing number of historians and anthropologists are concluding that Fu Hao was not Chinese but a woman of the "northwestern tribes," the current belief of Katheryn Linduff, Emma Bunker, Anthony Barbieri-Low, and others. This places the origin of Fu Hao in the pastoral regions (either north or south) of the Yinshan.


   
Here are more depictions of sheep-like creatures on Karasuk to Anyang knife finials. If we start at Minusinsk and the Karasuk culture (considered part of the Andronovo horizon) and follow a natural migrational trail, we would head south along the Ob and Irtish Rivers, following the Irtish around the lower western Altai, then eastward just north of the Tienshan, continuing past the Qilian Mountains, and ending at the Yinshan... or at Hetao ("Bend in the River")... now commonly called The Northern Zone. This proposal may give us an idea of the route taken by the easternmost Indo-Iranians-- Fu Hao's people and also the Yuezhi and Loufan.
Smile
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
Reply
The eight bronze links and two cowries finally arrived. With them added, we finally have something that approaches the bridle's original configuration, and we can finally view all the components in relation to one another. My placement of the various parts is a guess, nothing more. And my dating is open to question; it's just a rough guess. Since we have bone cowrie shells (early Western Zhou), and a snaffle bit that could go back to the 8th century BC, the date of this bridle could be earlier. What we have appears to be from a horse owned by either a Loufan or Linhu warrior.

   
   
   

These bridle fittings are the result of the Easternmost extension of the Indo-Iranians and Tocharians. When you look at a typical archaeological map of the Andronovo culture (below), it falls thousands of kilometers short of this area abutting modern Manchuria. Big Grin

   
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
Reply
Reading a chapter on Fu Hao in Adrienne Mayor's "Amazons", she mentions another similar burial:

"Chinese archeologists reported finding another tomb of an unnamed armed female near Beijing (dated to the western Zhou dynasty). This woman was buried with a large hoard of weapons, including battle axes, long and short swords, daggers, helmets, shields, lances and longe range bows."

She references two books, neither of which I own: "Notable Women of China" (Peterson, 2000) and "Mulan's legend and legacy in china and the united states" (Dong, 2010)
Not quite ready to spend 40 and 30 USD for ebooks. (but it would be interesting to see if there was more detailed information, or more sources)

She also mentions that "Oracle bones and shells name more than a hundred women who played roles in military campaigns."
I wonder if their names would give any indication of their "nationality".

edit: She also had an online reference, but that one didn't contain much more than her description:

http://www.colorq.org/articles/article.a...en&x=fuhao
"Another tomb of a female military commander, dated to the Western Zhou era (which followed the Shang Dynasty) has been found in Changping County, Beijing. It contained a hoard of battle-ready weapons - such as long range bows, double-pointed lances, spears, pikes, battle-axes, long-bladed sabres, short swords, daggers, helmets and shields.10"
Jan Pospisil - fantasy/historical/archaeology illustration
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Hi, Jan

Adrienne Mayor was referring to Baifu grave M2, dated to about 1120BC (give or take 90 years). The date places it to within a few generations after Fu Hao; and Baifu is actually a northern suburb of Beijing. The grave has all the hallmarks of a "barbarian" buried in Chinese context, replete with a planked-wall chamber.

As you noted Fu Hao was not the only female warrior within the Shang army, with lesser women warriors involved. Katheryn Linduff also gives us info on Lady Jing, the first wife of King Wu-ding. She was buried with a helmet and a halberd, indicating war experience. Her tomb is in the Anyang royal complex, and has a ramp leading to it. Fu Hao, the third wife, was buried across the river and her tomb has no (royal) ramp. The difference, of course, is Fu Hao had an entire arsenal buried with her; and her tomb was sprinkled with 7,000 cowries tossed by her mourning admirers. She was a very capable general, the first commander in recorded history to use the "ambush technique." After she died, King Wu-ding's military fortunes waned. Oracle bone inscriptions note his frequent sacrifices to her in the hope she could turn the tide.

There was a heavy steppe culture presence, not only north of Beijing but also far south in Hebei. Artifacts include recumbent horses almost identical to those found at Arzhan 2, and numbers of Scythian-styled short swords. Later, the state of Yan had a large contingent of Loufan as their cavalry, and the Loufan presence continued into the Han era. Rightly or wrongly, Prof. A.A. Kovalev states that the Loufan were part of the Pazyryk culture and migrated into northern China where they continued Scytho-Siberian customs and commissioned Pazyryk-styled art from local Chinese artists. It would appear that my bridle set (in the above posts) was a Chinese product designed to "barbarian taste." I'll dig up the info on Baifu M2 and neighboring graves, but presently I'm in the middle of corresponding with Dr. Argent. Wink
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
Reply
The Woman in Baifu M2

In 1975 (a year before Fu Hao's Tomb was discovered at Anyang) archaeologists excavated three tombs at Baifu, just north of Beijing. Tomb M1 was in poor condition, M2 contained the body of a woman and her personal possessions, and the male in M3 is generally described as her "companion." M2's date of interment has been placed at about 1040-1030 BC, shortly after the Zhou victory over the Shang Dynasty and the establishment of the new State of Yan.

"The richest of the three graves belonged to a woman who was evidently also an accomplished warrior, for her grave goods included a bronze helmet, more than sixty bronze weapons, and large numbers of horse and harness fittings. Although the presence of bronze vessels, elaborate chariot fittings, and fragments of oracle bones for divination reveal obvious concessions to traditional Chinese customs, most of the grave goods from Baifu suggest that the woman and her companion, buried in the adjoining grave with fewer weapons but also a helmet, might have been foreigners who adopted Chinese customs." (Bunker and So, 1995)

   
The woman was buried in a rectangular pit constructed of hewn logs, her body laying supine in north-south orientation, her head facing east. The fancy helmet was placed just above her head, and she wore boots studded with over 200 bronze "buttons," Pazyryk style. She carried... "a northern-style stone hammer (mace-head?) in her left hand and a bronze long knife [actually a dagger] in her right hand, identifying her as a leader (stone hammer, mace-head), and perhaps a hunter (arrowheads), as well as a warrior (helmet), and someone who may have ridden or driven horses (harness equipment, boots)." (Hartley et al., 2012. Please note Hartley's error. The mace was actually held in her right hand, the dagger in her left.)

   
Here's a drawing of the woman's mace-head and helmet.

   
Her bronze dagger was about 15 inches long, it's pommel shaped into a horse head (#8 in this illustration). Also shown are her other daggers and knives, varying in length from 25 cm to 45 cm.

   
Her longest dagger (#9) is almost a forerunner of an akinakes. It measures 17 inches, has a semi-mushroom pommel, one side of which is engraved with a "portrait"-- a round-faced man with a brachycephalic skull, also commonly called "Andronovo," "Ferghana-Pamir," or more accurately "Siberian."

   
She was buried with a typical "bow-shaped" chariot reins holder; but far more interesting, she also had a bronze snaffle bit with a pair of triple-holed bone psalia, precisely like those found at Arzhan 1... and identifying her as one of the earliest known equestrians.

Finally, to give you an idea of her social status, most likely a high commander for the Marquis of Yan, directly below is a facsimile of her helmet with its fancy crest. Below the photo of her helmet, we see the style of the Marquis of Yan's helmet. Both are elite objects... in a world where representatives of the Andronovo culture are riding for the State of Yan at the very birth of horseback riding.
   
   

Please post comments. What kind of woman could be buried with a mace, just like a Bronze age king?
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
Reply
A Bronze age Queen? Wink

Thanks for the continuing story Alan!
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
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THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
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(12-05-2016, 12:09 AM)Alanus Wrote: Her longest dagger (#9) is almost a forerunner of an akinakes. It measures 17 inches, has a semi-mushroom pommel, one side of which is engraved with a "portrait"-- a round-faced man with a brachycephalic skull, also commonly called "Andronovo," "Ferghana-Pamir," or more accurately "Siberian."

Hello, hope you don't mind me focusing on such a small part of this very interesting post.  I'd recently read about the Krotov-culture and Karakol daggers, which seem to me to be the forerunners of the akinakes.  But they lack guards, while these more easterly ones have a rudimentary one; perhaps the historical akinakes is a fusion of the styles?

And as with the Karakol daggers, the appearance of this one from Baifu puts me in mind of nothing so much as a long spearhead with the socket turned into a hand grip.


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Dan D'Silva

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Prepared to go where my heart belongs,
Back to the past again.

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To pick myself up from under this table...

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Thanks for the comment, Robert.
Perhaps not a queen, but this woman appears to be military commander. And frankly, there's nothing any worse than a martial female coming at you swinging a mace. Rolleyes

There appears to be a certain dismissive attitude within the anthropological community toward the cultural foundation of the Northern Zone, and often a dismissiveness of women in general... especially when they're generals. The Siberia-to-China connection, which could only have been an Andronovo overlayment upon Afanasievo, can be the only reason we find animal-headed knives and chariots in "downtown Anyang" and women like Ms. Baifu M2. (And archaeologically speaking, the connection didn't arrive from the "West." It came from the North.) 

Check this out: a recent statement by Anatoly M. Khazanov, ranking professor at the University of Wisconsin, "The earliest dating of mounted nomads on China's frontiers is in the mid-fifth and, more conspicuously, the late fourth centuries BCE. In addition, the existing archaeological materials prevent us from categorically dating their provenance before the sixth century."

WRONG! Where has Dr. Khazanov been? A significant log of Northern Zone material was available forty years ago; and to it, we can add the famous "Ordos Bronzes" collected by Peter the Great. My greatest peeve is an anthropologist's inability to connect the dots.

   
Here's one example of the "Chariot Trail," a petroglyph etched in the Mongolian Altai. The chariot motif begins in the Minusinsk Basin and continues down the western side of the Altai, into the Yinshan Mountains, and lands heavily in the burials at King Wuding's Anyang. What could be more telling?

   
Let's look at animal-headed sharp instruments designed to carve apples and people. Here's a matched set, sold to me by some unknowing Ebayer about a decade ago. As a rule, a warrior was buried with his/her dagger (the defensive weapon at Top) and also a utility knife (Bottom). These are original and ubiquitous; the knife matches one of the 157 weapons owned by Fu Hao, and it's also similar to a knife found with the woman in Baifu M2.

   
Now we can view the "Northern Bronze Knife Trail" (sort of speaking). It starts at Seima-Turbino, then to Minusinsk, across to Baikalia, and down to Northeast China. In fact, the same bronze knives and daggers almost reached North Korea. "None of these objects have turned up in areas further west, like Gansu or Qinghai... In the Shang context, there is a clear link between chariots and Northern Bronze Complex artifacts, such as knives with animal heads or bow-shaped artifacts. Therefore, it stands to reason that chariots were introduced into China via the eastern part of the Northern Zone and not, as commonly assumed, via its western side." (see Amitai, 2016, Shelach-Lavi, Chap. 2, p.21)

While there's much hoopla about China's western parameter and the popular Mummies of Urumchi, the bad-assed woman in Baifu M2 has become relatively forgotten. A bunch of poor dead people in a desert hold no interest for me (at this time); they were not a horse culture. On the other hand, the two military personages buried in Baifu M2 and M3 become important as the earliest "rough-riders" yet found anywhere, east or west. "East" is the key. The Animal-headed Knife Trail precisely matches the Chariot Trail; and these immigrants, whomever they were, became the first archaeologically documented military equestrians-- the Yan cavalry. More to come.
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
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I wouldn't dismiss the Urumchi mummies as "not a horse culture". For one, there's quite a few of them from different places and eras. For another, there is some cultural overlap with what you might call horse cultures.
I think the Tarim mummy people were definitely a part of the puzzle we're trying to put together here, even if it's not quite clear how.

And I don't mean to be rude, but how sure are you those knives are originals? I keep seeing identical (and I don't mean similar, they're exactly the same) ones for sale on eBay all the time, with the same decoration and the same (fake looking, honestly) patina.

That said, I have to admit this thread alone has done more for my understanding and overview of this period and place in history than most books I read on the topic. While I remain sceptical about a lot of things, there were many dots suddenly quite connected.
Jan Pospisil - fantasy/historical/archaeology illustration
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My Portfolio:
http://merlkir.deviantart.com
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Back to you, Jan.

If you will, please click on a bronze animal-headed knife now for sale on Ebay and then post the photo here. I search once or twice a week and haven't found any since I purchased these. I thought they were fakes for years... until I tried cleaning the lower loop (small one) of the knife, only to discover it wasn't dirt. It was encrustation, which can't be duplicated. Also, I tried bending them... since fakes are brass and fragile. These examples don't bend, and how could a faker possibly know (other than a real archaeologist) that Northern Frontier warriors carried them in pairs?

Fakes look like this, with a nice even grayish patina. You can clean these up with soap and water:
   
For bronze artifacts in varying good condition, see Bunker, Nomadic Art of the Eastern Eurasian Steppes, and Bunker and So, Traders and Raiders of China's Northern Frontier. Both volumes are not expensive, and I've found them helpful.

To me, a horse culture lives and dies on a horse. They breed them, their lives are centered around the horse, and the horse becomes a "partner." Many cultures used horses, the Greeks, the Romans, but the horse wasn't their primary significant "other." The Tarim states certainly used horses, but the majority of graves contained Zero horse gear. At some point, I believe Michael Kerr may start a thread on the Tarim peoples; and perhaps he can convince me otherwise. Likewise, I believe Shelach-Lavi is correct in noting that both the chariot and animal-headed knives arrived from the north, not from the west (aka Tarim). To me, the important thing about Baifu M2 is its extreme antiquity for an equestrian grave which actually contains all of the elements we find in the "Scythian Triad"... yet 300 years earlier than most historians describe its emergence.
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
Reply
I'll take a look. At one point I had like 6 of them in bookmarks, seriously considering spending the 20 USD (free shipping too!) on one of them Wink

(both those books are on archive.org in PDF, btw.)

edit: 

(now, I'm not inspecting them super closely, they seem different, but I see variations of these all the time. It really looks like they change parts like pommels or handle decorations, or blade length, but it's like a kit of parts they put together randomly to make a new one:
[links removed - forum rules!!]
(there used to be an aliexpress store selling them by 10s of pieces, but I can't find it anymore)
Jan Pospisil - fantasy/historical/archaeology illustration
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My Portfolio:
http://merlkir.deviantart.com
My Blog: 
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