Mummified female remains found in the Siberian Arctic

Archaeologists discovered a burial containing mummified remains of a female buried around 900 yeas ago at the site of Zeleny Yar, near Salekhard, Russia.

Head of the mummified individual (by Institute of the Problems of Northern Development SB RAS)

The rare mummified remains were found during this summer’s dig at Zeleny Yar archaeological site. The researchers discovered that the individual was a female, and possibly the first so far discovered at the necropolis which revealed only male burials in the past seasons. It is believed that the female was around 35 at the time of death. She is reported to have long eyelashes, a full head of hair, impressive teeth, and was possibly around 155 centimetres high. Her body was placed with feet pointing towards nearby Gorny Poluy River, like all other remains found at the site.

The burial as found on site (by Institute of the Problems of Northern Development SB RAS)

According to the researchers the natural mummification of bodies of the buried is usually observed when certain conditions of the environment – permafrost, the presence of copper objects in the burial – and climate. The remaining soft tissues were soaked with copper solution from those ritual plates with which the bodies were covered. The remains dating back to the 12th century AD are believed to have belonged to a woman being a member of an unknown hunting and fishing civilisation that held sway in the far north of Siberia. The copper kettle with which her head was covered helped preserve her in the permafrost grave.

CT analysis of the remains (by Institute of the Problems of Northern Development SB RAS)

Archaeologists discovered also bronze temple rings were close to her skull, wrapped inside animal skin, possibly reindeer, and birch bark that cocooned her. The people to which this woman belonged survived by hunting and fishing on the edge of the Arctic Circle – but among three dozen adult graves previously investigated, all contained male remains, some with their skulls smashed, possibly suggesting this woman was socially important. There were also graves of children of both genders – a baby of a very young girl too young to have teeth yet has been also unearthed this season. It is however not believe to be related to the mummified female, as the woman and the baby are from different graves. A series of tests, including DNA analysis, will be carried out by the joint team of Russian and South Korean scientists investigating these archaeological remains.

Examination of the remains (by Institute of the Problems of Northern Development SB RAS)

(After Institute of the Problems of Northern Development SB RAS & The Siberian Times)

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