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Thursday, 19 July 2012

Sharing with Igor Burtsev and Friends

I had sought permission by Igor Burtsev to reprint the material on Zana and he granted me permission some while back. Here is the source material in English from the Russian Hominology site
Wild woman, supposed relict hominoid, captured somewhere in a forest and having given birth from a local man in Abkhazia in the eve of 19th sentury
By Igor Burtsev, translated by Dmitri Bayanov
In Abkhazia, Western Caucasus, relict hominoids (snowmen) are called abnauyu. While collecting reports in 1962, a colleague of Prof. Boris Porshnev, zoologist Prof. Alexander Mashkovtsev, heard and studied the story of Zana. Subsequently, Porshnev took over where his late companion left off. The following information is borrowed from Porshnev's work The Struggle for Troglodytes*.

* Boris Porshnev. The Struggle for Troglodytes . Prostor magazine, July 1968 pp. 113-116 (in Russian).
Zana was a female abnauyu who had been caught and tamed and who lived and died within the memory of a number of people still alive at the time of the research. She was buried near the village of Tkhina in the Ochamchiri District of Abkhazia in the 1880s or 1890s.

The manner of her capture is vague. Pro­bably she had already changed hands by sale when she became the property of the ruling prince D.M.Achba who was the titular head of the Zaadan region. She passed into the possession of one of his vassals, named Chelokua and still later she was presented to a nobleman, Edgi Genaba, who visited the region. He took her away, still shackled and chained, to his estate in the village of Tkhina on the Mokva River, 78 kilometres from Sukhumi, the capital of Abkhazia.
At first Genaba lodged her in a very strong enclosure and nobody ventured in to give her food, for she acted like a wild beast. It was thrown to her. She dug herself a hole in the ground and slept in it and for the first three years she lived in this wild state, gradually becoming tamer. After three years she was moved to a wattle-fence enclosure under an awning near the house, tethered at first, but later she was let loose to wander about. However she never went far from the place where she received her food. She could not endure warm rooms and the year round, in any weather, slept outdoors in a hole that she made herself under the awning.
Villagers teased her with sticks thrust through the wattle-fence, and she would snatch them with fury, bare her teeth and howl.

Her skin was black, or dark grey, and her whole body covered with reddish-black hair. The hair on her head was tousled and thick, hanging mane-like down her back.
She could not speak, over decades that she lived with people, Zana did not learn a single Abkhaz word; she only made inarticulate sounds and mutterings, and cries when irritated. But she reacted to her name, carried out commands given by her master and was scared when he shouted at her. And this despite the fact that she was very tall, massive and broad, with huge breasts and buttocks, muscular arms and legs, and fingers that were longer and thicker than human fingers. She could splay her toes widely and move apart the big toe.
From remembered descriptions given to Mashkovtsev and Porshnev, her face was terrifying; broad, with high cheekbones, flat nose, turned out nostrils, muzzle-like jaws, wide mouth with large teeth, low forehead, and eyes of a reddish tinge. But the most frightening feature was her expression which was purely animal, not human. Sometimes, she would give a spontaneous laugh, bar­ing those big white teeth of hers. The latter were so strong that she easily cracked the hardest walnuts.
She lived for many years without showing any change: no grey hair, no falling teeth, keeping strong and fit as ever. Her athletic power was enormous. She would outrun a horse, and swim across the wild Mokva River even when it rose in violent high tide. Seemingly without effort she lifted with one hand an eighty-kilo sack of flour and carried it uphill from the water-mill to the village. She climbed trees to get fruit, and to gorge herself with grapes she would pull down a whole vine growing around the tree. She ate whatever was offered to her, including hominy and meat, with bare hands and enormous gluttony. She loved wine, and was allowed her fill, after which she would sleep for hours in a swoon-like state.
She liked to lie in a cool pool side by side with buffalos. At night she used to roam the surrounding hills. She wielded big sticks against dogs and on other perilous occasions. She had a curious obsession for playing with stones, knocking one against another and splitting them.
She took swims the year round, and preferred to walk naked even in winter, tearing dresses that she was given into shreds. However, she showed more tolerance toward a loin-cloth. Sometimes she went into the house, but the women were afraid of her and came near only when she was in a gentle mood; when angry she presented a scary sight and could even bite. But she obeyed her master, Edgi Genaba, and he knew how to bring her to heel. Adults used her as a bogy figure with children, although Zana never actually attacked children.

She was trained to perform simple domestic tasks, such as grinding grain for flour, bringing home firewood and water, or sacks to and from the water-mill, or pull her master's high boots off.
But she became the mother of human children, and this is the wonderous side of her life story, very important for the science of genetics. Zana was pregnant several times by various men, and, giving birth without assistance, she always washed the newborn child in the cold water-spring. The half-breed infants, unable to survive these ablutions, died.

So, when subsequently Zana gave birth, the villagers began taking the newborn babies away from her in good time, and reared them themselves. Four times this happened, and the children, two sons and two daughters, grew up as humans, fully-fledged and normal men and women who could talk and possessed reason. It is true that they had some strange physical and mental features, but nonetheless they were fully capable of engaging in work and social life.
One of her sons Khwit died in 1954. There were rumours that his father was in fact Edgi Genaba himself, but in the census he was put down under a family-name of Sabekia. It is significant that Zana was buried in the family cemetery of the Genabas, and that the two youngest children of Zana were brought up by Genaba's wife.
Khwit was powerfully built, had dark skin, but he inherited scarcely anything from Zana's facial appearance. The complex of human features, inherited from hisd father, was dominant in them and overruled the mother's line of descent. Khwit, who died at the age of 65 or 70, was described by his fellow-villagers as little different from the human norm, except for certain small divergences. He was extremely strong, difficult to deal with and quick to pick a fight. In fact, he lost his right hand after one of the many fights he had with his fellow-villagers, but his left hand sufficed him to mow and do other work on a collective farm, and even climb trees. When old, he moved to the town of Tkvarcheli where he eventually died, but he was taken back for burial at Tkhina.
The next stage of the Zana case was taken up by attempts to find her grave and skeleton. Here is what Prof. Boris Porshnev says about his efforts in that direction:
In September 1964, the archaeologist V.S.Orelkin and I made our first attempt to find Zana's grave. After was the second and third expeditions, but the search party had still not found Zana's bones (the last one was in October 1965)*.
* Archaeologist Yury Voronov, who later became Vice Premier of Abkhazia and was killed in September 1995, participated in the search at the time {IB.)
Igor Bourtsev on the excavation
After the passing of Porshnev it fell to my lot to continue the search. I headed three expeditions to Abkhazia in search of Zana's skeleton, in 1971, 1975 and 1978, which merits a separate story. Our difficulty was that by that time the last scion of the Genaba clan had passed away and nobody knew exactly where Zana's grave was. We put in a tremendous amount of spade work on that hillside, digging sticky clayey earth under almost daily downpours. During the second expe­dition I was taken seriously ill with an illness which doctors failed to identify. We never found a skeleton that would fit Zana's features as described by witnesses.
It was then decided to exhume the skull of Khwit, Zana's younger son, whose grave was still well indicated. The famous paleontologist professor Nikolay Bourchak-Abramovich assisted me in that digging in 1971, and a young anthropologist-archeologist Leonid Yablonsky consulted the digging in 1975.
I brought the skull to Moscow where it was studied by two physical anthropologists, M.A.Kolodieva and M.M.Gerasimova. The re­sults of the study were reported by me at the Relict Hominoid Research Seminar and the Moscow Naturalists' Society and published in 1987.**

The skulls of Khwit and a woman

** I.D. Bourtsev, M.A. Kolodieva. Results of a Preliminary Investigation of a Skull from the Village of Tkhina, Abkhaz ASSR. In: Papers of the Moscow Naturalists' Society. Moscow, 1987 (in Russian).
Anthropologist M.A.Kolodieva compared the skull of Khwit with the male skulls from Abkhazia in the collection of the Moscow State University Institute of Anthropology and found that Khwit's skull was significantly different. Indicating it as the Tkhina skull, she writes:
The Tkhina skull exhibits an original combination of modern and ancient features ... The facial section of the skull is significantly larger in comparison with the mean Abkhaz type ... All the measurements and indices of the superciliary cranial contour are greater not only than those of the mean Abkhaz series, but also than those of the maximum size of some fossil skulls studied (or rather were compara­ble with the latter). The Tkhina skull approaches closest the Neolithic Vovnigi II skulls of the fossil series...
The skeleton in the neighborly grave
On her part, anthropologist M.M.Gerasimova came to the following conclusions:
The skull discloses a great deal of peculiarity, a certain disharmony, disequilibrium in its features, very large dimensions of the facial skeleton, increased development of the contour of the skull, the specificity of the non-metric features (the two foramina mentale in the lower jaw, the intrusive bones in the sagittal suture, and the Inca bone). The skull merits further extended study.
So the bottom line of the Zana case today is this: we have only descriptions of Zana's peculiar nature, but the hard and specific evidence of her son's skull goes a long way in making the testimony of witnesses more solid and trustworthy.
It is need to add, that neighborly to the Khwit’s grave there was an interesting finding of the remnants: the skeleton of a woman buried in unusual position: on the side and with legs bent. Her skull is more robust comparing the local women and very prognathic. I don’t exclude that this burial belongs to Zana herself. To define this conclusion it is necessary to fulfill the comparative DNA analysis of both the sculls.

©Cryptosphere Fund
From Igor Bourtsev: "Me in Tajikistan, 1979. One of the footprints found, casted" This is incidentally a classic footprint of the Almas type and can be matched by photos of similar casts from the Caucasus, Pamirs, Tien Shans, Mongolia and Tibet
-I consider that the woman's remains found with Kvit are possibly a relative but probably not Zana's.
I did find that Kvit's skull shows features which in a fossil example would definitely classify it as a Neanderthal crossbreed. The Skull is very much like the well-preserved Classic Neanderthal from La Ferassie:

Zana's Daughter or Granddaughter Natalia and Khvit's son Shaliqua, killed in the 1950s. Khvit lived to be an old man in his seventies before he died and was buried: Igor has many photos of their relatives and descendants, who continue to flourish in the area up to the present day.

Igor's daughter drew a portrait of him interviewing one of the specific North American Bigfoots that had been reportedly "Acclimatized" to regular feedings. I had already said that her artwork depicting this individyual showed a Neanderthal-type cranium and so I superimposed one of the Spanish early-Neanderthal ("?H. heidelbergensis") skulls for comparison and showed it to him:

Incident on the Carter Farm illustrated by Lilia Bourtsev
This was the illustration I saw first and I remarked that the Bigfoot in question had a Neanderthal shaped skull. The woman in the picture is secretly snatching some hairs from the creature's arm: I had some of the hairs as samples myself through an intermediary, and Igor through another route: both of us sent our samples in to be analysed. The samples I sent in were unfortunately discarded at the other end but the ones Igor had analysed matched against Kvit's remains genetically. Which was a remarkable and highly significant finding.

I later sent in some reconstructions based on ones at the "Them and Us" site to show how the theory would account for hairy Neanderthals resembling the Bigfoots or what Igor preferred to call "Forest People" (Some of the critics complained about the reconstructions all having the same fixed snarling expression)

And in this last one I had the "Them or Us" models (With legs repositioned more naturally under the body) scaled to show a more typical Neanderthal (on the Left) or a really big Heidelberger (With the eyes emphasized as in many reports) as compared to an average adult man.

Best Wishes, Dale D.

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