1,300-year-old fortress-like structure on Siberian lake continues to mystify experts

It is one of the most mysterious archaeological sites in Russia – an ancient complex engulfing a small island in the center of a remote lake in the mountains of southern Siberia. At first glance, it appears to be an ancient fortress, its perimeter of high walls constructed to keep out enemies. However, others have proposed the 1,300-year-old structure may have been a summer palace, monastery, memorial complex, ritual center, or astronomical observatory. More than a century after its rediscovery, experts are no closer to understanding the secrets of these enigmatic ruins.

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Mar Saba or Monastery of Santa Sabba in Bethlehem , Palestine ( Fadi Amirah photography)

It is considered to be one of the oldest inhabited monasteries in the world, and still maintains many of its ancient traditions. One in particular is the restriction on women entering the main compound. The only building that women can enter is the Women’s Tower, near the main entrance.

Archaeologists Believe They Have Found Lost Cloister

It is believed the remains of the much-searched-for Þykkvabær cloister may have been found. Icelandic and British archaeologists saw the remains of a very large building yesterday, using ultrasound techniques, at Álftaver in South Iceland.

The discovery came as a complete surprise, as it was not thought the remains of the cloister were in that area.

“I think we’ve just hit the jackpot, because I think we’ve discovered the remains of Þykkvabæjarklaustur. It came as a complete surprise, you can say that much. The remains are not on the site it was assumed the cloisters stood,” archaeology professor Steinunn Kristjánsdóttir told Stöð 2 television.

Þykkvabæjarklaustur, east of Mýrdalur, was a monastery of Augustine monks and its location has been lost to archaeologists until now. Read more.