It is one of the most mysterious archaeological places in Russia – This ancient complex engulfing a small island in the center of a remote lake in the mountains of southern Siberia.
At first sight, it looks 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.
Whatever it is, more than a century after it was first explored, archaeologists are no further forward in discovering the secrets of Por-Bajin, who built it or why.
Por-Bazhyn has been known since the 18th century, and was explored in 1891 for the first time. In 1957–1963, the Russian archaeologist S.I. Vajnstejn excavated in several areas of the site.
Who built this Siberian summer palace… and why?
Large-scale fieldwork was undertaken in 2007–2008 by the Fortress Por-Bajin Foundation.
With scholars and scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences, the State Oriental Museum, and Moscow State University.