Workers Quarrying A Site In Kyrgyzstan Stumble Upon Prehistoric Mammoth Remains

Published June 10, 2024

Workers in Kyrgyzstan made the discovery of a lifetime while quarrying in the Issyk-Kul region of Kyrgyzstan in June 2024.

Kyrgyzstan Quarry

Ministry of Culture, Information, Sports, and Youth Policy of KyrgyzstanArchaeologists dig at the quarry in Kyrgyzstan.

Earlier this month, a team of quarry workers in Kyrgyzstan stumbled upon the remains of a mammoth while out on the job.

After the workers alerted officials to the find, archaeologists descended on the quarry and painstakingly uncovered a handful of mammoth bones, including part of a skull, a jaw bone, and a tusk.

The remains were found in the valley of the Jyrgalan River, an area known to be a hotspot for prehistoric animal discoveries. Now, archaeologists are hopeful that this find will reinvigorate support for future excavations in the region.

Discovering The Mammoth Bones

Archaeologists With Mammoth Bones

Ministry of Culture, Information, Sports, and Youth Policy of KyrgyzstanThe bones were found in Kyrgyzstan’s Issyk-Kul region.

On June 2, 2024, workers at an Ak-Suu district quarry in Kyrgyzstan stumbled upon prehistoric mammoth bones in the middle of their work day. The workers immediately notified the quarry’s owner, who contacted the country’s Ministry of Culture.

The ministry dispatched archaeologists to the quarry. There, archaeologists A. Abdykanova, A. Emil uulu, and two students, N. Sultanov and B. Sadyldaev, uncovered pieces of a tusk and a lower jaw in two different locations, roughly 500 feet from each other and buried about 10 feet underground.

When the archaeologists began cleaning the site where they discovered the tusk bones, they uncovered even more bone fragments from the prehistoric animal.

Then, the trickiest part of the whole operation presented itself: how to unearth the bones without damaging them.

The Delicate Science Of Bone Preservation

Mammoth Jaw Bone

Ministry of Culture, Information, Sports, and Youth Policy of Kyrgyzstan
A piece of the mammoth’s jaw bone.

Given the mammoth bones’ age, archaeologists had to work diligently to protect the bones from further damage.

Prehistoric bones can quickly turn brittle and fall apart when exposed to sunlight, so archaeologists had to get creative. Using tools to hammer a hole into the ground, the researchers cleaned the dig site slowly and meticulously.

Eventually, they revealed the lower part of the mammoth’s skull. Given its delicate and poorly preserved condition, they were only able to remove part of the skull.

Mammoth Tusk Fragments

Ministry of Culture, Information, Sports, and Youth Policy of Kyrgyzstan
Fragments of the mammoth’s tusks.

After extracting the bones, archaeologists cleaned them on site and packaged them. The remains will travel to a nearby museum for further study after the conservation process is complete.

Now, archaeologists are hopeful that the quarry is hiding even more prehistoric treasures just waiting to be discovered.

“The finds are so far isolated,” the Ministry of Culture wrote in a Facebook post, “but their presence in two different places of the same quarry suggests that the quarry area may be promising in terms of future discoveries.”

Furthermore, officials encourage citizens to report any future findings that may hold historical or cultural significance.

“We appeal to all citizens of the country with a request to ensure the safety of historical and cultural heritage sites, immediately report the discovery to the government agency and archaeologists, conduct further research, and ensure safety,” officials concluded.

After reading about the mammoth bones, dive into the story of 11 of Earth’s most unbelievable prehistoric creatures. Then, read about Megatherium, the prehistoric mega sloth that once roamed the Amazon Rainforest.

Amber Morgan
Amber Morgan is an Editorial Fellow for All That's Interesting. She graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in political science, history, and Russian. Previously, she worked as a content creator for America House Kyiv, a Ukrainian organization focused on inspiring and engaging youth through cultural exchanges.
Maggie Donahue
Maggie Donahue is an assistant editor at All That's Interesting. She has a Master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a Bachelor's degree in creative writing and film studies from Johns Hopkins University. Before landing at ATI, she covered arts and culture at The A.V. Club and Colorado Public Radio and also wrote for Longreads. She is interested in stories about scientific discoveries, pop culture, the weird corners of history, unexplained phenomena, nature, and the outdoors.
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Morgan, Amber. "Workers Quarrying A Site In Kyrgyzstan Stumble Upon Prehistoric Mammoth Remains.", June 10, 2024, Accessed June 21, 2024.