Medieval Siberian mummies baffle archaeologists
|A red-haired man was found, protected from chest to foot by copper plating |
[Credit: Kate Baklitskaya/Go East]
The medieval necropolis include 11 bodies with shattered or missing skulls, and smashed skeletons. Five mummies were found to be shrouded in copper, while also elaborately covered in reindeer, beaver, wolverine or bear fur. Among the graves is just one female, a child, her face masked by copper plates. There are no adult women.
Nearby were found three copper masked infant mummies - all males. They were bound in four or five copper hoops, several centimeters wide.
|Among the graves is just one female, a child, her face masked by copper plates|
[Credit: Natalya Fyodorova]
Artifacts included bronze bowls originating in Persia, some 3,700 miles to the south-west, dating from the tenth or eleventh centuries. One of the burials dates to 1282, according to a study of tree rings, while others are believed to be older.
The researchers found by one of the adult mummies an iron combat knife, silver medallion and a bronze bird figurine. These are understood to date from the seventh to the ninth centuries.
|The researchers found by one of the adult mummies an iron combat knife, silver medallion|
and a bronze bird figurine [Credit: Natalya Fyodorova]
Natalia Fyodorova, of the Ural branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said: 'Nowhere in the world are there so many mummified remains found outside the permafrost or the marshes.
'It is a unique archaeological site. We are pioneers in everything from taking away the object of sandy soil (which has not been done previously) and ending with the possibility of further research.'
|'Nowhere in the world are there so many mummified remains found outside the permafrost|
or the marshes' [Credit: Kate Baklitskaya/Go East]
Fyodorova suggests that the smashing of the skulls may have been done soon after death 'to render protection from mysterious spells believed to emanate from the deceased'.
With work underway again, archeologists hope for clearer answers.
Author: Kate Baklitskaya | Source: The Siberian Times [April 10, 2014]