26. 05. 14. - 15:00
A Russian fisherman who expected nothing more than a haul of tench and carp ended up hauling a 4,000-year-old pagan god statue from the riverbed.
And amazingly selfless Siberian Nikolay Tarasov, 53, wants no compensation for the find which local archaeologists hailed as being "unique and amazing" and "probably worth its weight in gold".
Nikolay was fishing on his day off from his driving job in the village of Tisul in southern Russia.
He said: "I used a net, rather than a line, and was hauling it in when I felt the net go heavy and thought it had snagged on a rock.
"I pulled it in by getting my pal to help and was going to chuck it away. But then I stopped when I saw it was a stone with a face. I washed the thing in the river - and realised it was a statuette. It has almond shaped eyes, a large mouth with full lips, and a ferocious facial expression.
"I took it to a local museum. I needed to sit down when the experts told me that this object was carved at the very beginning of the Bronze Age.
"On the reverse side on the head the carver etched plaited hair. Below the plait there are lines looking like fish scales. The people I showed it to quite literally jumped for joy.
"I suspected it might be a couple of hundred years old, but had not considered it might by older."
The curators of the museum passed on the find to experts in the city of Kemerovo, where they dated it at more than 4,000-years-old, and explained it had been carved in horn which later fossilised.
Marina Banschikova, director of Tisul History Museum: "Quite likely, it shows a pagan god. Items from this period are very rare, the only things we have dated approximately to the same age are a stone necklace and two charms in the shapes of a bear and a bird.
"Nikolay has given us this treasure free of charge. He didn't ask for any kind of compensation - though it is probably worth more than if it was a gold statue. Now we have to devote more time studying his find which is both unique and amazing."
The area around Tisul is known to have been inhabited in ancient times. Currently the theories are that the statuette belonged to the Okunev or Samus cultures.
To sell it and make profit however was not on the mind of Nikolay. He said: "People should see it, and learn the history of their region. It is quite clearly precious for the museums of any country."
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