“This radically changes our concept about this graveyard. It’s amazing.” – Archaeologist Alexander Gusev.
SALEKHARD, SIBERIA – one mummified woman has finally been unearthed at the Zeleny Yar necropolis after 900 years of being buried in permafrost. She was the member of an unknown hunting and fishing civilization that lived in the area during the 12th century. The woman was aged 35 when she died. The frost has preserved her delicate features – including a full head of hair, a set of impressively preserved teeth, and immensely long eyelashes. The archaeologists also found bronze temple rings buried with her near her skull. She was wrapped in cocoon of animal skin and birch bark, and laid to rest in a grave with her feet pointing toward the nearby Gorny Poluy River.
Archaeologists were conducting their excavation of the Zeleny Yar archaeological site this summer when they found her buried among several other graves. This is the first adult woman unearthed at this ancient site.
“There are some badly preserved bones,” archaeologist Alexander Gusev with Russia’s Arctic Research Center explained, “which do not allow us to determine the gender, but he we clearly see from the face that she was a woman.”
He says this “radically changes” their idea about this particular necropolis.
“Previously we thought that there were only adult men and children [buried here], but now we have a woman.”
Among the other graves, archaeologists have also unearthed three dozen male graves, as well as a few graves of children of both genders, and one baby. The archaeologists do not think that the woman and the baby were at all related.
Over the course of the next year, several tests will be carried out by a team of scientists from Russia and South Korea, hoping to learn more about these remains and, subsequently, the people they belonged to.
Dr. Sergey Slepchenko, researcher at the Institute of the Problems of Northern Development SB, RAS, Tyumen, explained one pressing question: the reason for the women’s green-tinged skin.
The woman was buried with a copper kettle around her head, the remains of which were still found around her body. As the body rotted, this copper kettle did too, dying her skin green.
“During the natural conservation of the mummy in the soil, the rotting process was completed. The remaining soft tissues were soaked with copper solution from those ritual plates with which the bodies were covered,” Dr. Slepchenko explained.
He hopes that, with some extra research, they will be able to reconstruct her face to see what she looked like while living. The scientists have also taken brain samples for paleo-DNA analysis.
Watch a video about the incredible discovery below: