Archaeologists mystified by 1,000 year old mummies laced in copper
Sunday, April 20, 2014, 8:17 PM -
Russian archaeologists have resumed excavations in a remote site, some 29 km shy of the Arctic Circle, in an unwavering attempt to unlock secrets of medieval mummies shrouded in copper masks.
In total, the archaeologists discovered 34 shallow graves, with seven male adults, three male infants, and one female child, said to be roughly 1,000 years old. Some of the bodies had shattered or missing skulls, and smashed skeletons.
The bodies were found with a hoard of artifacts, including bronze bowls originating in Persia, dating from the tenth or eleventh centuries.
After studying tree rings, the team concluded one of the burial sites dates back to 1282, while others are said to be older.
Each mummy was bound in four or five copper hoops two inches wide. Beside one of the adult mummies, researchers found an iron combat knife, silver medallion and bronze figurine. These are believed to date back to from the seventh to the ninth centuries.
Five mummies were found clad in copper, while meticulously covered in reindeer, beaver, wolverine or bear fur.
Among the graves, the archaeologists found only one female child wearing a copper mask.
According the researchers, the finding suggests that around one millennium ago Siberia was not a remote and inhospitable site, but a crucial trading crossroad.
The archaeologists admitted the graves feature burial rites they had never seen before.
"Nowhere in the world are there so many mummified remains found outside the permafrost or the marshes," said Natalia Fyodorova, of the Ural branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences in an interview with the Siberian Times. "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."
Source: Kate Baklitskaya, Go East | Twitter: @True_Katherine | SiberianTimes.com