toOlkhon Island is the largest island in Lake Baikal (East Siberia, Russia). On the island there are only 1,500 inhabitants, and 1,000 of them live in the village of Huzhir.
On the Olkhon Island you can enjoy the beautiful nature of the island and the surrounding it Lake Baikal, examine the neighborhood, and look for endemic flora and fauna of the lake Bayan – they are not found anywhere else. You can listen to stories about the magical places of the island. The island has a unique microclimate – it almost has no rain (“Dry Island”) and it is constantly sunny here.
But on the island there are also places that tell us about people who lived here in the olden days. These places are caves.
The Cave Boro-Huhan
Where: 1.8 km to the south-west of the village of Huzhir and 1.5 km east of the village of Little Huzhir (200-250 meters to the south-east of the main road to the village of Huzhir), at the base of a marble- monadnock.
Dimensions: 2.0×1.5 m, height – 0.8 m.
What is there: dwelling-refuge of different eras: Neolithic IV – middle of III millennium BC., Late Iron Age V-X cc.
Finds: an axe made of jade, adze with “ears” and bone awls (IV –mid III century BC.). Thick-walled ceramic fragments (V-X cc.). The collection is stored in the archives of the Huzhir museum.
“Only more remarkable is superstitious fear that Olkhon Buryats feel towards the cave; you cannot drive by the Shamanic rock on wheels, but only on horseback or on a sled.”
V. Obruchev (1890)
Where: Cape Burhan (Shamanka), 0.5 miles from the village of Huzhir.
What is there: sanctuary from different eras and a single burial (Neolithic IV – middle of the III millennium BC., period of modern ethnography of XVIII-XIX centuries.).
Finds: slate plate with a carved out image of “female shaman”.
Fragments of metal vessel of the type of Buddhist “gabala”, a steel buckle, ceramic tile with stamped images, pieces of arrow shafts (XVIII-XIX cc.).
Hoe made of horn, prismatic plates, bone with carved ornaments, pieces of jade with traces of processing, pottery fragments (IV –middle of III millennium BC.).
In ancient times in Burkhan ritual sacrifices to the master of the Olkhon Island, Ugute-Noyon, took place. He was believed to live in the cave of the cape. It was the most important and powerful deity of Lake Baikal.
This is not the only cave in the mountain, and in other caves, about 60 years ago were also found cave paintings. But now these caves are not available for viewing because of the rise of water as a result of the construction of the Irkutsk hydroelectric station.
An Isthmus between the Island and the Burhan Rock (Shamanka)
Cape Burhan (Shaman Rock) / Huzhir, Olkhon Island, Lake Baikal, Siberia, Russia
Researchers found the refuge of ancient people and more than a dozen graves dating back to the Neolithic and Bronze Ages (V-II millennium BC.). Finds: a knife and an ax made of jade, arrowheads, pottery fragments, objects made of stone, bone, iron, bronze, gold, etc.
Where: on the east coast of the Olkhon Island, in the north-eastern part of the bay Haga-Yaman (the village of Uzur). The cave entrance is facing south.
Dimensions: a narrow grotto of sizes 5.0×1.5×2.0 m.
What is there: a temporary shelter and a single burial (Neolithic IV- middle of III millennium BC., and the period of modern ethnography XVIII century).
Finds: stone arrowhead, a needle made of bone, fragments of pottery.
A human skeleton. The body is facing west. The skull was broken.
Things to Do
Visit the museum in the village of Huzhir, then – the caves. While in the caves, try to imagine how different historical eras ruled in these places. Usually it is easy to do without any difficulty.
How to Get to the Island of Olkhon
You can take a plane from Moscow to Irkutsk, then you can drive (expensive) or take a bus (cheaper). Along the way – ferry.
There are several other caves on the island of Olkhon and especially not far from the island, near Lake Baikal, with interesting findings and cave paintings.