Mummy of the Ukok Princess

Mummy of the Ukok Princess


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Siberian Ice Maiden

The Siberian Ice Maiden, also known as the Princess of Ukok (Russian: Принце́сса Уко́ка ), the Altai Princess (Russian: Алтайская принцесса ), Devochka and Ochy-bala (Russian: Очы-бала , the heroine of the Altaic epic), is a mummy of a woman from the 5th century BC, found in 1993 in a kurgan of the Pazyryk culture in Republic of Altai, Russia. It was among the most significant Russian archaeological findings of the late 20th century. In 2012 she was moved to a special mausoleum at the Republican National Museum in Gorno-Altaisk.


Hillary Clinton Was Cursed to Fail by Siberian Mummy

US first lady Hillary Clinton on December 22, 1997. Earlier that year, Clinton visited Russia during her solo Human Rights Tour—where she met face-to-face with (and was allegedly cursed by) the Princess of Ukok. Stephen Jaffe/AFP/Getty Images

Rethinking her loss in the presidential race as a mere “setback” after her “long walks in the woods” and lots of sleep, Hillary Clinton bravely stated recently that she was ready to “get back up and keep going.”

But while speaking of “girl power” in the U.S. in the 21st century last Tuesday, Clinton likely didn’t suspect she was fighting a more powerful obstacle: a curse by the lady-shaman of Siberia, with whom she had the misfortune of crossing paths about 20 years ago.

A fuzzy photograph of Clinton by the mummy of the Princess of Ukok is one of the most revered exhibits at the City Museum of Novosibirsk, in the capital of Siberia.

“Will her acquaintance with the Princess bestow a curse on Hillary tonight?” asked one headline on election day. (“The Princess did not like Clinton—and Clinton lost!” a victorious reader remarked the next day, in the comments section beneath the article.)

The remains of the immaculately dressed 20-something ‘princess,’ preserved for several millennia in the Siberian permafrost—a natural freezer—were discovered in 1993 by Novosibirsk scientist Natalia Polosmak during an archaeological expedition, The Siberian Times reported in 2012. Six saddled and bridled horses, her spiritual escort to the next world, were buried around her—a symbol of her evident status as a healer or a holy woman.

A meal of sheep and horse meat was placed by her side, as well as ornaments of felt, wood, bronze and gold—and a small container of cannabis.

This discovery, in the middle of the Ukok Plateau—the holiest place of the native people of the Altai Mountains, direct relatives of Native Americans—has been called one of the most important archaeological moments of the modern era.

Even today, only a chopper can deliver one to this unreachable place.

Both of the ancient girl’s arms—from shoulders to wrists—were covered with exquisite, modern tattoos. “It is a phenomenal level of tattoo art. Incredible,” Dr. Polosmak, who found the mummy, said. The tattoos on the left shoulder of the ‘princess’ show a fantastical mythological animal: a deer with a griffon’s beak and a Capricorn’s antlers.

Her head was completely shaven and she wore a horse hair wig. She died over 2,500 years ago.

“She was called ‘Princess’ by the media. We just call her ‘Devochka,’ meaning ‘Girl,'” explained Irina Salnikova, head of the Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography.

Her brain and internal organs had been removed, so it was not possible to determine the cause of death. The Princess of Ukok was not related to any of the Asian races, scientists are convinced—nor was she related to the present day inhabitants of Altai. She had a European appearance and blond hair before shaving her head.

Local shamans declared that the mummy belonged to the Altai Princess Ochi-Bala or White Lady of Ak-Kadyn—the progenitor of the Altai people, the keeper of peace, who stood guard, preventing evil from penetrating our world.

Leave her in peace, rebury her in the same spot, or there would be dire consequences—her ire and curse, for anybody who would cross her path—the shamans warned.

From day one, many Altai locals were alarmed by the removal of the ancient girl’s remains from the sacred burial mounds—known as kurgans—regardless of the value to science of the discovery. In a land where the sway of shamans still holds, they believed that the princess’ removal would immediately lead to consequences.

Locals insisted the excavation disrupted her protective mission and the revenge she would inflict would reach globally.

Archaeologists confirmed that as soon as the mummy was found, there was thunder—even there wasn’t a cloud in the sky above. When the remains were removed, an earthquake began.

Some say the “curse of the mummy” caused the crash of a chopper carrying her remains out of Altai. Then, in Novosibirsk, her body—preserved so well for so long—suddenly began to decompose. The mummy had been stored in a freezer used to preserve cheese and fungi began growing on the flesh, it was claimed.

The princess’ remains had to be taken to Moscow and to be treated by the same scientists who took such great care of the body of Vladimir Lenin, founder of the Soviet state.

After the body was brought to Novosibirsk (some 400 miles from the burial site), the constitutional crisis of 1993 began in Moscow. Ordered by Russian President Yeltsin, Russian tanks shelled Russian Parliament.

Soon after, economic disaster followed.

Even the war in Chechnya that began in 1995 was blamed on the Princess of Ukok.

Back in Altai, many ills had been explained by the princess’s removal: forest fires, high winds, illness, suicides and an upsurge in earthquakes in the region, The Siberian Times reported.

In November 1997, first lady Hillary Clinton visited Russia during her solo Human Rights Tour. One of her stops was in the city of Novosibirsk.

On November 16, while on her trip, Clinton was lured into the most dangerous trap: to meet face-to-face with the scientific sensation, the Princess of Ukok.

At the History and Archeology Institute of Novosibirsk Akademgorodok, in the company of archeologists Vyacheslav Molodin and Natalia Polosmak, the first lady observed the remains of the Princess—on exhibit just for Clinton herself.

Was it a trap deliberately set by the Russian Secret Service?

Clinton was greeted by the local governor, shared vodka and tea with him, and then paid a visit to a “traditional Siberian family”—the Vdovins. Father Vdovin was an engineer and mother Vdovin was an English teacher at the local school, NGS News reported.

Clinton’s life, as well as the lives of those she met while there, dramatically changed soon after.

The governor lost his post two years later and died, while the Vdovin family split and moved to Canada.

In January, 1998, exactly two month after Clinton’s visit to the mummy of the Siberian Princess of Ukok, the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke and the course of U.S. history was changed forever.

And, most importantly, Hillary Clinton’s goals became ever more elusive—no matter how hard she worked to reach them.


Priestess Mummy With Powers

Siberian Times Artist’s rendition of the Siberian Ice Maiden during her life.

Since the discovery of the Siberian Ice Maiden in 1993, locals have invested a lot of faith in the mummy’s powers and shown much respect for the divinity they believe it carries.

Experts hailed the finding as one of the most important archaeological moments of modern times.

The Altai shamans declared that the mummy belonged to the Altai Princess Ochi-Bala or White Lady of Ak-Kadyn whose corpse was placed at the Ukok Plateau — considered the holiest place of the native people of the Altai Mountain — to protect the gateway to the nether world.

Besides the six bridled horses found in the mummy’s tomb site, archaeologists also discovered a meal of sheep and horse meat by her side. They also found ornaments of wood, felt, bronze, gold, and, interestingly, a small container of cannabis.

Out of respect for the customs of the Altai Indigenous tribes, the Siberian Ice Maiden’s remains can only be viewed by museum visitors during the new moon.

Wikimedia Commons The grave site of the Princess of Ukok.

The priestess’ burial was meant to prevent the “penetration of Evil from the lower worlds” which is why removing the remains was predicted to have catastrophic consequences.

Not only did the removal of the remains cause a major earthquake in Altai, but a series of inexplicable misfortunes also followed the priestess mummy wherever it went.

Some say it is what caused the crash of the chopper that had been transporting her remains out of Altai, though the mummy itself was unharmed. Then, when it arrived in Novosibirsk, her remarkably well-preserved corpse suddenly began to decompose.

There is also the suspicion that the Siberian Ice Maiden is capable of influencing political affairs of the world. Many Altai elders believe it was what spurred Russia’s constitutional crisis in 1993 and the outbreak of the war in Ukraine.

Wikimedia Commons The Seminksi Pass in the Altai region.

One of the biggest — and perhaps most surprising — political affairs believed to be affected by the mummy priestess was the 2016 US presidential election. They believe that the Princess of Ukok may have cursed Hillary Clinton.

In November 1997, then-first lady Hillary Clinton visited Russia during her solo tour to promote human rights initiatives around the globe.

One of her stops was in the city of Novosibirsk where the priestess mummy was kept. As customary during diplomatic visits, local officials hosted Clinton with a visit to several spots around the city, including an exclusive viewing of the Siberian Ice Maiden.

As the story goes, a series of misfortunes struck local officials involved with Clinton’s Novosibirsk tour.

Then, two months after Clinton’s fateful meeting with the priestess mummy, the Bill Clinton scandal broke, causing ripple effects that would cascade through to the 2016 election — as the “mummy’s curse” would have some believe.

Whether the divine powers of the Siberian Ice Maiden are real or not, maybe it is best to leave such ancient relics alone.

Next, take a look at the 5,600-year-old mummy which used the oldest Egyptian embalming recipe ever found and the remarkably well-preserved Qilakitsoq Mummies whose last meal was identified by scientists.


The Siberian Ice Maiden and her tattoos

Why did I decide to write about a tattooed Siberian Ice Maiden?

I’ve been watching a lot of videos about tattoos lately. Maybe it is because I recently got my first piercing. It has been my first time coming in contact with the world of piercings and tattoos myself. What fascinates me the most is the meaning that these artworks can assume for some cultures. That’s why I thought to write an article that was related to this theme. I made some researches and that’s how I discovered how tattoos have a ritual function in many ancient Siberian cultures. But what caught my attention the most was the history of Pazyryk people.

Pazyryk lived during the Iron Age in the Altay Mountains, in the modern Republic of Altay. The first written descriptions of these ancient nomadic people were made by Greek historian Herodotus in the Fifth Century b.C. Almost all the remains found during excavations in the Ukok’s Plateau had complex ceremonial tattoos that were still visible on them. Although archeologists unveiled several mummies in this region, the most famous is probably the so-called Siberian Ice Maiden.

A Shaman resting in Ice for 2500 years

The mummy of the Siberian Ice Maiden (or Mummy of Altai) was found in 1993 during an archeological expedition led by archeologist Natalija Polosmak in the Ukok’s plateau. The woman was probably aged 25 when she died. The Siberian permafrost preserved the status of her body for more than two Millenniums. She was dressed in Chinese silk, which indicated her high social status. This type of fabric was usually worn by wealthy people, as it was very expensive.

In the site where she was buried were also found six horses, a meal of meat and various ornaments to indicate her status. Not far from her, the remains of two warriors were also dug up during the expedition. All these clues led archeologists to the supposition that the remains were more likely to be considered those of a folk tale narrator or a shaman than those of a princess. With all probabilities, she owned some kind of special knowledge.

The Tattoos

It was assumed that the function of these tattoos was that of indicating a certain social status, not only in the living world but also in the afterworld. They were probably supposed to help the souls of people belonging to the same lineage recognize each other. The princess had her shoulders down to her hands tattooed. The tattoos covering her arms represented mythologic animals such as a deer with a griffon beak and Capricorn antlers, a panter with the legs of a sheep and a deer head. The two warriors who were buried with the Siberian Ice Maiden not only had more tattoos than her but theirs also matched the symbology of the drawings on her skin. Archeologists suppose that tattoos were created with a mixture made out of soot and fat, which was then injected into pierced skin.

Deer on the body of the Ice Maiden

According to Natalija Polosmak, it is possible to assume that the body part where the Pazyryk received its first ceremonial tattoo was the shoulder. Almost all Pazyryk mummies with only one tattoo had it on their left shoulder. Another assumption is that the number of tattoos on each mummy was linked to age. The older people were, the more tattoos they owned.

To this date, the tattoos on the remains of the Siberian Ice Maiden are among the most complex ever found on a body dating back to such a remote era.

Controversies

The remains of the Ukok’s Maiden were kept in Novosibirsk’s Institute of Archeology and Ethnography for many years after its discovery. Ever since archeologists discovered the burial, the people living in Ukok’s plateau had been protesting against the forced departure of the body from its motherland.

The removal of the body from the Siberian permafrost was seen by locals as a sacrilegious act. People in Altai believed her removal to be the cause of catastrophic events that took place in the region, like earthquakes and forest blazes. The Siberian Ice Maiden finally came back in 2012 to the Republic of Altai, where it is now kept in a Mausoleum at the Republican National Museum in Gorno-Altajsk.

In all likelihood, I won’t be able to visit the Republic of Altai since I only have one month left here in Russia. But it might be an interesting cue for future visits. Well, maybe I’ll visit this place when I will finally get a tattoo myself, instead of just watching videos of tattoos on youtube for no reason.

If you are hearing the call of Siberia and her vastity, you may appreciate some suggestions for your adventure. Here are some articles that might be interesting for you:

For those of you who want to find out more about the Siberian Ice Maiden, you can read this accurate article of the Siberian Times.

Thank you for reading! I hope I have made you discover something you had never heard about yet. That is pretty much what happened to me while writing this article.


Did ancient Siberian princess use cannabis to cope with breast cancer?

The Siberian Ice Maiden, also known as the Princess of Ukok and the Altai Princess of Ochi-Bala, is a 2,500-year-old mummy of a woman found in 1993 in a kurgan (mound) of the Pazyryk culture in the Republic of Altai, Russia. Her discovery was considered to be among the most significant Russian archaeological findings of the late 20th century. Revolutionary scientific research, reported in The Siberian Times , revealed that the young woman died from breast cancer, and suffered numerous other ailments. The research team suggested that this may explain the pouch of cannabis found by her body, which she may have used to cope with the symptoms of her illness.

The Princess of Ukok was found undisturbed in a subterranean burial chamber on the Ukok Plateau near the border of China, in what is now the Autonomous Republic of Altai. The plateau, part of the Eurasian Steppes, is characterized by a harsh, arid climate. One of the most distinctive features of the Ice Maiden is her tattoos. She has tattoos on both arms, from her shoulders to her hands although only the left arm was preserved well enough to study. The tattoo depicts a mythical animal, an antlered deer with the beak of a vulture as well as other mythical clashes between vultures and hoofed animals.

As well as the sarcophagus with the mummy, six horses richly saddled and harnessed and two warriors were found indicating that the woman came from a noble clan. The Altai Princess and the two warriors found with her are believed to be Pazyryk people, a nomadic people described in the 5th century BC by the Greek historian Herodotus.

The Ukok Plateau, Siberia. Image Source: Wikipedia

Since her discovery, the Ice Maiden has been extensively studied at the Museum of the Novosibirsk Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, which has included facial reconstruction, DNA tests, and other research projects on the Maiden – much to the disappointment of Altai locals, who say that scientists have troubled her remains.

According to the Siberian Times, the results of an MRI analysis, conducted by scientists Andrey Letyagin and Andrey Savelov and published in the journal Science First Hand, revealed the ‘princess’ had a primary tumour in the right breast and right axial lymph nodes with metastases. It is not clear whether the cancer was the ultimate cause of her death as she also suffered from osteomyelitis, an infection of the bone or bone marrow, and significant injuries, including fractures of the skull, which may have been caused by falling from a horse. But one thing is for certain, the feeble Ice Maiden would have been suffering a great deal of pain.

Ukok princess reconstruction. Image source: Wikipedia

Professor Natalia Polosmak, who first found these remarkable human remains in 1993, told the Siberian Times that the young woman is likely to have used analgesics. Since her burial chamber was found to contain a pouch full of cannabis, Dr Polosmak suggests that sniffing cannabis “was a forced necessity” to cope with her pain.

The use of cannabis has a long and varied history. Evidence of the inhalation of cannabis smoke can be found in the 3rd millennium BCE, as indicated by charred cannabis seeds found in a ritual brazier at an ancient burial site in present day Romania. While the drug was used for a variety of purposes, including its psychotropic properties, it was also used as a healing agent. The first recorded use of cannabis as a medicine dates back to 2,737 BC, used by Emperor Shen Neng of China. Evidence for the consumption of cannabis has also been found in Egyptian mummies dated about 950 BC.

Modern-day scientists have increasingly been turning their attention to cannabis due to its potential to inhibit or destroy cancer cells, and at the very least, manage the pain and symptoms that come with the illness. But then, ancient people seem to have known that already.

Featured image: Mummy of the Ukok Princess. Image source: Wikipedia


2500 Year Old Princess Mummy Discovered with a Tattoo

In Russia, the intricate patterns of 2,500-year-old tattoos – some from the body of a permafrost-preserved Siberian ‘princess’ – have been discovered.

Mythological creatures are included in the remarkable body art and experts believe the elaborate drawings were a sign of age and status for the ancient nomadic Pazyryk people, mentioned by the Greek historian Herodotus in the 5th century BC. The Body of Princess Ukok, who died aged 25, had several tattoos on her body, including a deer with a griffon’s beak and a Capricorn’s antlers. The tattoos have been perfectly preserved for 2,500 years.

But Natalia Polosmak, a scientist who found the remains of the ‘Princess Ukok’ ice-clad high in the Altai Mountains, is also struck about how little has changed in more than two millennia.

‘I think we have not moved far from Pazyryks in how the tattoos are made,’ she told the Siberian Times ( SiberianTimes.com ).

‘It is still about a craving to make yourself as beautiful as possible.’ ‘For example, about the British. Researchers also found two warriors close to the Princess , and were able to reconstruct their tattoos. Here, one is shown with an animal covering the right side of his body, across his right shoulder and stretching from his chest to his back.

‘A lot of them go on holiday to Greece, and when I’ve been there I heard how Greeks were smiling and saying that a British man’s age can be easily understood by the number of tattoos on his body.

‘I’m talking the working class now. ‘And I noticed it, too. ‘The older a person, the more tattoos are on his body.’

Dr Polosmak added: ‘We can say that most likely there was – and is – one place on the body for everyone to start putting the tattoos on, and it was a left shoulder.

‘I can assume so because all the mummies we found with just one tattoo had it on their left shoulders.

Princess Ukok’s hand with marked tattoos on her fingers. She was dug out of the ice 19 years ago, and is set to go on public display in the Altai Republic.

‘And nowadays this is the same place where people try to put the tattoos on, thousands of years on.

‘I think its linked to the body composition – as the left shoulder is the place where it is noticeable most, where it looks the most beautiful.

‘Nothing changes with years, the body stays the same, and the person making a tattoo now is getting closer to his ancestors than he or she may realise.’

The tattoos of one of two warriors found on the ancient permafrost burial site at Ukok Plateau some 2,500 meters above sea level close to Russia’s frontiers with modern-day Mongolia, China, and Kazakhstan

The tattoo patterns are from the ancient ‘princess’ who died at around the age of 25 – and from two warriors found on an ancient permafrost burial site at Ukok Plateau some 2,500 metres above sea level close to Russia’s frontiers with modern day Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan.

The reconstruction of the tattoos in the images shown here were released to coincide with the moving of the remains of the princess, dug out of the ice 19 year ago, to a permanent glass sarcophagus in the National Museum in Gorno-Altaisk, capital of the Altai Republic.

Eventually she will be displayed to tourists.

Buried around her were six horses, saddled and bridled, her spiritual escorts to the next world, and a symbol of her evident status, though experts are divided on whether she was a royal or a revered folk tale narrator, a healer or a holy woman. Tattoos are clearly visible on one of the warrior’s shoulders. The designs are similar to those found on the Princess.

Next to hear body was a meal of sheep and horse meat and ornaments made from felt, wood, bronze and gold. And a small container of cannabis, say some accounts, along with a stone plate on which were the burned seeds of coriander.

‘Tattoos were used as a mean of personal identification – like a passport now, if you like,’ said Dr Polosmak.

‘The Pazyryks also believed the tattoos would be helpful in another life, making it easy for the people of the same family and culture to find each other after death.

‘Pazyryks repeated the same images of animals in other types of art, which is considered to be like a language of animal images, which represented their thoughts.’

The tattoos were ‘used to express some thoughts and to define one’s position both in society, and in the world.

The more tattoos were on the body, the longer it meant the person lived, and the higher was his position.

‘For example the body of one man, which was found earlier in the 20th century, had his entire body covered with tattoos, as you see on the picture of his torso,’ said Dr Polosmak.

‘Our young woman – the princess – has only her two arms tattooed. So they signified both age and status.’

The Siberian Times said: “The tattoos on the left shoulder of the ‘princess’ show a mythological animal – a deer with a griffon’s beak and a Capricorn’s antlers.

‘The antlers are decorated with the heads of griffons. ‘And the same griffon’s head is shown on the back of the animal. The mouth of a spotted panther with a long tail is seen at the legs of a sheep.

‘She also has a dear’s head on her wrist, with big antlers. ‘There is a drawing on the animal’s body on a thumb on her left hand. The Ukok plateau, Altai, Siberi, where Princess Ukok and two warriors were discovered. Their bodies were surrounded by six horses fully bridles, various offering of food and a pouch of cannabis.

‘On the man found close to the ‘princess’, the tattoos include the same fantastical creature, this time covering the right side of his body, across his right shoulder and stretching from his chest to his back.

‘The patterns mirror the tattoos on a much more elaborately covered male body dug from the ice in 1929 whose highly decorated torso in reconstructed in our drawing here.

‘His chest, arms, part of the back and the lower leg are covered with tattoos. There is an argali – a mountain sheep – along with the same dear with griffon’s vulture-like beak, with horns and the back of its head which has griffon’s head and an onager drawn on it.’


Princess Ukok, The First Breast Cancer Patient in History

UKOK PLATEAU, NETRALNEWS.COM - A tattooed mummy tomb was unearthed by Novosibirsk scientist Natalia Polosmak in 1993, and heralded as one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. Estimated to be around 2,500 years old, the mummy is suspected of having breast cancer.

Scan results conducted by scientists in 2014 with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) indicated the existence of asymmetrical structure on the mummy's right breast. The mummy&rsquos name is known as Princess Ukok.

At the grave of Princess Ukok at an altitude of 8200 feet in Ukok Plateau, archeologists also found six horses that are said to be his spiritual companion to the next world. Archaeologists also found ornaments made of feathers, wood, bronze and gold and small containers of marijuana and a plate of stones where coriander seeds were burned.

According to the editorial information from Daily Mail, the scientists discovered the secret of fashion and beauty of Princess Ukok through clothes and goods, including cosmetic bag that is on the side of Princess Ukok&rsquos mummy.

The scientist said Princess Ukok wore a long shirt made of Chinese silk, and shoes with beautiful decoration. During Princes Ukok&rsquos time, Chinese silk was only found in the Pazyrk kingdom's burial, and since it was more expensive than gold, it gave an indication of her wealth and status.

Her head was completely shaved, and she wore a wig from a ponytail fur. The facial skin and neck of the princess were not preserved, but the skin of her left arm is still intact. But the most interesting discovery is the intricate physical art, which many observers have in common with the modern tattoos.

The elders of the Altai Mountains have long demanded that the mummy be buried again in the Ukopk plateau to stop its anger causing floods and earthquakes. They targeted floods in 50 years in Altai and earthquake events caused by the death of the princess.

Recently Russian scientists discovered the possibility of her death aside from cancer, as it is estimated she also suffered a fall from her horse at the end of her life.

Princess Ukok&rsquos mummy spent most of the last two decades at a scientific institute in Novosibirsk. Then she was transferred to a specially designed room at the National Museum of the Republic in Gorno-Altaisk, but the elders objected to featuring Princess Ukok in public.

The first sketch of the plan for the new mausoleum is guided by Akai Kine, the ethnic Teles ethnic group leader, and president of the Spiritual Center of Turkey Kin Altai.

"According to the draft, the mummy will be put in its original resting place, and on top of it will be a burial monument. The mausoleum will be located on the Ukok plateau where the mummy was discovered by archaeologists in 1993, "said Akai Kine, Teles ethnic group zaisan (leader), and president of the Spiritual Center of Turkey Kin Altai.


Minor nationality of Russia demands the return of "Princess of Ukok"

About five thousand residents of Altai Republic demand the return of the so-called "princess of Ukok" mummy which is now kept in Novosibirsk back to the republic.

Written appeal with such request was sent by the residents addressing head of the republic Mikhail Lapshin, chairman of the State Assembly Igor Yaimov and deputy of the State Duma Sergey Pekpeyev.

NA REGNUM's correspondent has been informed by the speaker of State Assembly Igor Yaimov.

4654 personal signatures are affixed to the appeal. The document says:

"We address you with the request for prompt settling of the issue of returning the well-known "princess of Ukok" mummy to the National museum of Altai Republic. The given issue was discussed in mass media, negotiations with lead staff of the Archeology and Ethnography Institute of the Russian Academy of Science, Siberian Branch were underway. We hoped and believed that construction of special premises for keeping and exhibiting the mummy would begin this year, and in the year of celebrating the 250th anniversary of the Altai people voluntary affiliation with the Russian State (this date will be commemorated in 2006 - NA REGNUM) returning of the Altai national relic would become one of the main events".

As authors of the appeal inform, many inhabitants of Altai complain of disrespect to their religious views, according to which mountainous Ukok plateau always had its sacral and mystical character. "Princess of Ukok is not only a religious and spiritual, but also a cultural and historical heritage of all Mountainous Altai people". Many spiritual leaders of Altai, the request says, connect deseases and natural disasters in the republic to this particular excavation and taking "the princess of Ukok" out of Altai.

The mummy was discovered by an archaeological expedition of Novosibirsk scientists headed by doctor of historical sciences Natalia Polosmak in the early 90th years. Excavations were carried out at Ak-Alakha tract on the Ukok plateau located in the south of the Mountainous Altai. The plateau borders on Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan. Later academician Vyacheslav Molodin discovered one more mummy at this same place, a male warrior. As scientists claim, the mummies were contained in Scythian burial places made in 4-5th centuries B.C. At that time it was a so-called period of "Pazyryk culture" in Altai.

The mummies remained preserved due to the permafrost. Scientists insist on continuation of the excavations as interdisciplinary researches indicate possible warming of the climate as a result of which thawing of ice lenses will occur. At present there is even data showing in which exactly barrows on Ukok plateau ice is still existent.

However, the indigenous population of Altai extremely negatively regarded the fact that scientists managed to find the mummies. Amid the Altai intellectuals, they started to assert that Ukok plateau had always been considered a sacred place for altaians and they knew about the burial place for the woman since in the unearthed barrow "princess Kadyn" had lied whom shamans had been worshipping for millennia.

Today, a powerful movement has emerged in Altai aimed at claiming the mummy back to its ‘native land”. Among supporters of this idea, however, there are two directions. One suggests simple returning it to Altai and exposing the mummy in Mountainous Altai Museum. Others demand to re-bury "princess". For the last ten years supporters of the mummy's returning were constantly sending appeals to authorities with requests for solving the problem. Still the latest actual form of address has beaten all records by amount of people who had signed it.

Novosibirsk archeologists repeatedly declared that they are not against transferring of the mummy to Gorno-Altaisk. Special expensive equipment is necessary to preserve it though, which the Altai museum doesn't possess.

After an earthquake in September of 2003 in Altai, epicenter of which was around 100-150 kilometers from Ukok plateau, local residents began to claim that this act of nature was the result of disturbing the burial place of "princess Kadyn" who now revenges on people.

THE CURSE OF THE ALTAI PRINCESS

Altai pagan people want to put it back to the ground

by Dmitry Filimonov/Gorno-Altaisk and Novosibirsk


Altai Mountains have been shaking for six months in a row. Each day is broken by two tremors. The dogs begin to howl and the windows go atrembling. The ground goes up and down in waves and the water bursts out of the mountains. The shamans say that the end of the world is nigh.

The residents of the affected areas keep forwarding their request to the authorities based in the town of Gorno-Altaisk. They first asked for some tents, makeshift stoves and fodder. Their requests were either lost in the process or simply disregarded. The head of the autonomous republic simply took a holiday before the next elections.
The people had to build up mud huts and make stoves from the broken bricks. They began to slaughter their livestock that was doomed anyway due to the lack of fodder.

Then they found out that 500 million roubles had been allocated by the federal government to finance the rebuilding. They figured out that the money had been allotted for them so they sent more letters to the officials in Gorno-Altaisk. They wanted to know: where?s the money? The letters seem to have been lost again.
When an old man and a young boy, the residents of the destroyed village of Beltir, committed suicide, everybody put the blame on despair. And then a wave of suicides swept across the damaged areas. The shamans? verdict: ?The curse of the Altai Princess.?

Another letter was sent to the high places:

?We, the indigenous people of the Mountainous Altai, are the pagans and nature worshippers. All the diggings that have been conducted and are conducted in the Altai cause us unrecoverable harm. The invaluable treasures, a spiritual heritage of the Altai people, are moved out of the region despite our protests. A burial mound containing a young tattooed woman of noble descent was opened at the Ukok plateau in the Kosh Agachsk region. She?s a sacred relic to the Altai people, a keeper of peace and grandeur of our people. The Altai Princess is now kept in a museum in Novosibirsk. Being the pagans we?re completely confident that the soul of the Altai Princess is full of anger because she hates being bothered and wants to be laid to rest. The tragic events of the last few months spring from the situation. We, the residents of the Oroktoy village, are calling on the people of the Republic of Altai to support our demands for the return of the sacred relic.?

The above letter finally made it to the authorities. Just like all the other collective letters asking to put the mummy back to the ground.

The requests are signed by cattle-breeders, lumberjacks, livestock experts, masons, milkers, tractor operators, doctors, shepherds, combine harvester operators, teachers and the unemployed. Aelkhan Zhatkambaev, a governor of Kosh Agachsk, an area most severely hit by the earthquake, also put down his signature. The requests were discussed by the government. The head of the republic made a televised address promising to put the mummy back where she belonged.

The mummy was uncovered in the summer of 1993. At the Ukok plateau. 2500 m above the sea level. The argalis, snow leopards and the border guards. And the burial mounds. The border defenses were built up in the area back in the 1960s when the threat from China seemed imminent. The border troops used stones from the mounds for their pillboxes. Natalya Polosmak, an archeologist, chose one of the semi-demolished mounds for her digging, it was sitting ugly next to the barbed wire. It looked small and ordinary.
?Can?t you find another mound at Ukok? There?s plenty of them around,? said to her Academician Vyacheslav Molodin, her teacher and husband. ?It?s been vandalized, no doubts about that.?

Natalya was persistent in her plans.

Her team dug out a burial site dating back to the early Iron Age in a week. It proved to be a double burial site with an early tomb hidden underneath another one which was inserted later on. The original tomb was covered with an ice lens. It meant that lots of interesting things could be lying in the lower burial chamber just like in a freezer.
A helicopter brought to location a group of archeologists and journalists from Switzerland, Belgium, USA, Japan and Germany to location a few days after the news had been passed to the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the Siberian division of the Academy of Sciences.

The burial chamber was being unsealed to the buzz of the media. It took a few days to complete the operation. The burial chamber was a wooden framework. Packed with ice. It was melted down with hot water delivered in mugs. The mugs were used again for scooping out the water from the melted ice.

Six horses lay frozen in ice, the saddles and harness in place. There was a wooden block too. It was fixed with the bronze nails. The blocks like that made of larch were used for burying noble people.

The mummy was lying on the right side with her legs slightly bent under, her arms covered with tattoos. The mummy was clad in a silken shirt, a woolen skirt, felt socks around her feet, a fur coat wrapped around her body and a wig covering her head.
Two helicopters were used for taking the archeologists and the find to Novosibirsk. The chopper carrying Natalya and the mummy crash-landed somewhere between Barnaul and Novosibirsk due to an engine failure. The party reached the city by car.

The local press reported the following news: ?The helicopter carrying the mummy of the Altai Princess suffered a crash killing everybody onboard. The mummy survived the crash intact.?

An authority on mummies arrived from the Moscow Research Center of Biological Structures. The institution is charged with preservation of Lenin?s body. Moscow biologists agreed to restore the mummy for 15 million roubles.

A few dozen research teams from Russia and the rest of the world were busy studying parts of the mummy as it was soaking in the Lenin baths. The find turned out to be a world sensation. It?s reported to be 2,500 years old. The tissue condition is pretty satisfactory for such an old age. Specialists at the Cytology and Genetics Institute singled out DNA from the mummy?s tissues. They found out that:

?A deletion measuring 9 p.n. is missing in the DNA sections. The above deletion is a direct marker indicating the presence of the eastern Asiatic component.?
The princess wasn?t a Mongoloid, in other words. The Altais are a Mongoloid people. The face restoration confirmed the geneticists? findings: the princess had European facial features. The further research showed that the Nenets and Selkups were most likely to be her descendents.

The Altai Princess is not the original mother of the Altai people? The people of Altai would be better off without this piece of information.
The local press put out an article under the headline: ?Molodin, Polosmak &Co created their own anti-national racist theory.?

Archeologists had troubles dealing with the local authorities before. The locals didn?t let them dig out the mounds. Things got for the worse when the results of the genetic study were published.

Excerpts from the appeal by the Altai intelligentsia: . we?re of the different opinion despite the statements made by some officials at the Archeology and Ethnography claiming that the burial sites unearthed have ?no ancestors of yours.?

We view a far-fetched theory regarding the lack of a genetic link to the Altai people as a biased approach towards the history of the Turk peoples. We?re against the plans as regards the Altai land being turned into a single ugly digging hole. We ought to return an embalmed body of the young woman to her place of rest. No scientific interests whatsoever should prevail over the religious and ethnic sentiments of the entire nation.?
Having considered the appeal, the government of the Altai declared the Ukok plateau a ?zone of rest?. Digging is now forbidden. Archeologists have to take a bypass road through Kazakhstan to reach the plateau only to get caught by the angry public and police. Still, the diggers aren?t breaking the federal law, they?ve got a license to dig, an ?open list?. Therefore they can?t be expelled.

The war is going on for 9 out of 10 years of the digging at the Ukok plateau.
23 burial mounds have been opened during this period. One mummy was found.
Why didn?t they find any gold in the mounds? The public claim that gold should be there. There?s a rumor circulating around the Altai: the archeologists are keeping gold to themselves.

?This fur court is the oldest fur coat in the world. It costs much more than any gold,? says Academician Molodin.

Sarcophagus for the Princess

In the meanwhile, the battle for the princess rages on. Funds were allocated from the local coffers to buy to air conditioners in a local museum of regional studies. The units are used to keep the air at 18 C all the time in a room where the mummy is going to be stored.

Excerpts from a letter by the Altai Minister of Culture to the director of the Archeology Institute: ?This is to advise you that the museum will be shortly completing preparations for taking the female mummy from the Ukok plateau for storage pursuant to the agreement between your Institute and the Ministry. It?s highly recommended that the exhibit be put on display in the same sarcophagus. The sarcophagus in question had been her ?house? for many years. The Ministry of Culture is ready to discuss the cost of the sarcophagus.

According to local media, the money spent on the AC units had been originally allocated for the poor. Yet the poor are ready to keep on starving for a little more if the return of the princess is at stake.

From a letter by the director of the Archeology Institute to the Altai Minister of Culture: ?I?m deeply saddened to inform you that the issues relating to a potential transfer of the mummy to your museum have been aggravated by my signing an agreement on cooperation with you. According to legal counselors, I exceeded my authority by doing so.?

The talks have been disrupted. The air conditioners are blowing cool air in an empty room. The poor are relieved of the money and the princess.
Some headlines in the local press: ?The archeologists who took part in the digging of the Altai Princess, are dying one by one due to reasons unknown.?
?We?re going to fold our operations here. It?s getting too dangerous,? said Molodin

Mausoleum for the mummy

The Gorno-Altai communities are split in two. Some want to bury the princess. The others want to put it to a mausoleum.

Rimma Erkinova favors the latter alternative. She?s a director of the regional studies museum. A mockup of the mausoleum is sitting atop her desk. The republican government allocated 2 million roubles for a architectural design. ?The Princess is ours,? said the above lady.

Ivan Belekov is a pro-mausoleum sort of guy. He?s a local minister of culture. He finds it hard to estimate the construction costs. He believes the cost will be high. He knows that his republic has no funds available yet he?s sure that the construction will kick off next year.

Vladimir Sabin wants to bury the mummy. He?s a deputy in a local parliament. He shows me a photograph of poachers holding a freshly skinned argali. ?Molodin is just like them,? said he. ?The body must be put into the ground. Right where it was taken from.?
Vladimir Kadyev wants to bury it too. He?s a board member of the Congress of the Altai people. ?They should have gotten a license from the spirits before digging,? said the board member. He?s going to write to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. He?s sure that the big wig will help bury the princess.

?We?re open to discussions as regards a transfer of the mummy to a local museum.
Burying the mummy is out of the question,? said Academician Molodin.

On March 7, 2004, President Putin signed a decree for the celebration of 250th anniversary since the Altai had been made part of Russia. The anniversary is to be celebrated in 2006. The leaders of the Altai people hope that Russia will give them the princess for the occasion. And the earthquakes might abate afterwards.

Object of the highest value

Putting the mummy back to rest means irreparable damage?

The Altai Princess falls under the law ?On objects pertinent to cultural heritage of the peoples of the Russian Federation?. The law says that archeological finds shall be regarded as objects of cultural heritage of the federal importance. Article 25 reads: ?The objects of cultural heritage that are deemed . of the highest archeological value may be considered as objects of the world cultural heritage.? The mummy is undoubtedly an object of the highest value.

As by Article 61 ?Persons who caused damage to an object of cultural heritage shall recover the cost of restoration incurred thereby. The costs duly recovered shall not exempt such persons from being subject to criminal prosecution.?
Those who will bury the mummy will end up in jail.


Minor nationality of Russia demands the return of "Princess of Ukok"

Written appeal with such request was sent by the residents addressing head of the republic Mikhail Lapshin, chairman of the State Assembly Igor Yaimov and deputy of the State Duma Sergey Pekpeyev.

NA REGNUM's correspondent has been informed by the speaker of State Assembly Igor Yaimov.

4654 personal signatures are affixed to the appeal. The document says:

"We address you with the request for prompt settling of the issue of returning the well-known "princess of Ukok" mummy to the National museum of Altai Republic. The given issue was discussed in mass media, negotiations with lead staff of the Archeology and Ethnography Institute of the Russian Academy of Science, Siberian Branch were underway. We hoped and believed that construction of special premises for keeping and exhibiting the mummy would begin this year, and in the year of celebrating the 250th anniversary of the Altai people voluntary affiliation with the Russian State (this date will be commemorated in 2006 - NA REGNUM) returning of the Altai national relic would become one of the main events".

As authors of the appeal inform, many inhabitants of Altai complain of disrespect to their religious views, according to which mountainous Ukok plateau always had its sacral and mystical character. "Princess of Ukok is not only a religious and spiritual, but also a cultural and historical heritage of all Mountainous Altai people". Many spiritual leaders of Altai, the request says, connect deseases and natural disasters in the republic to this particular excavation and taking "the princess of Ukok" out of Altai.

The mummy was discovered by an archaeological expedition of Novosibirsk scientists headed by doctor of historical sciences Natalia Polosmak in the early 90th years. Excavations were carried out at Ak-Alakha tract on the Ukok plateau located in the south of the Mountainous Altai. The plateau borders on Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan. Later academician Vyacheslav Molodin discovered one more mummy at this same place, a male warrior. As scientists claim, the mummies were contained in Scythian burial places made in 4-5th centuries B.C. At that time it was a so-called period of "Pazyryk culture" in Altai.

The mummies remained preserved due to the permafrost. Scientists insist on continuation of the excavations as interdisciplinary researches indicate possible warming of the climate as a result of which thawing of ice lenses will occur. At present there is even data showing in which exactly barrows on Ukok plateau ice is still existent.

However, the indigenous population of Altai extremely negatively regarded the fact that scientists managed to find the mummies. Amid the Altai intellectuals, they started to assert that Ukok plateau had always been considered a sacred place for altaians and they knew about the burial place for the woman since in the unearthed barrow "princess Kadyn" had lied whom shamans had been worshipping for millennia.

Today, a powerful movement has emerged in Altai aimed at claiming the mummy back to its ‘native land”. Among supporters of this idea, however, there are two directions. One suggests simple returning it to Altai and exposing the mummy in Mountainous Altai Museum. Others demand to re-bury "princess". For the last ten years supporters of the mummy's returning were constantly sending appeals to authorities with requests for solving the problem. Still the latest actual form of address has beaten all records by amount of people who had signed it.

Novosibirsk archeologists repeatedly declared that they are not against transferring of the mummy to Gorno-Altaisk. Special expensive equipment is necessary to preserve it though, which the Altai museum doesn't possess.

After an earthquake in September of 2003 in Altai, epicenter of which was around 100-150 kilometers from Ukok plateau, local residents began to claim that this act of nature was the result of disturbing the burial place of "princess Kadyn" who now revenges on people.


Watch the video: The Princess of Ukok


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