In 1993, a group of Russian archaeologists led by Natalia Polosmak found in the Altai (Siberia) an enclosed in a shell of ice a mummy of a tattooed woman.

The age of the finding is about 2 500 years. The most interesting feature was that the mummy had … beautifully executed tattoos.

It is interesting that originally the tomb with the mummy looked plundered and Natalia Polosmak showed character by still insisting on the excavations at that place. Indeed, a burial with the mummy of the Siberian ice maiden appeared intact; the unique discovery of the late 20thcentury took place!

Where the Siberian Ice Maiden Was Discovered

Archaeologists were carrying out excavations of burial moundsin the Altai. In these places there are earthen mounds and mounds made of stone.

Interestingly, in recent years all over the world there are reports of a variety of discovered burial mounds that were created over the graves. Figuratively speaking, pyramids similar to Egyptian ones, made ​​of different materials and of different sizes literally cover the entire planet in places where people lived in ancient times. But before the advent of archeology no one paid attention to these massive burial mounds.

How the Mummy Got Preserved

The secret of its preservation is in particular conditions of the Altai. Stone mounds during the summer accumulate moisture that gathers underneath. In winter, the water freezes. Frozen water in the summer does not have time to melt because on top of there is a massive layer of stones. As a result permafrost occurs which like a real freezer preserves everything that is inside the mound.

But even before this body, placed in the burial chambers made ​​of wood, were specially prepared. Entrails of the entombed were removed by replacing them with special plants. On top a mummy was coated with a mixture containing a wax.

Siberian Ice Maiden – Is She the only One?

Since the discovery, more mummies were found in Siberia, male and female. That is, today we can speak of at least two of the Siberian ice maidens. (In reality, eight mummies were found, but some mummies have been found as early as the middle of the 20thcentury, when the capabilities of their research and preservation were limited).

One mummy had tattoos, and the rest – no. How so?

Scientists consulted with forensics experts. And, indeed, conducted according to their advice research in the infrared range showed that all the mummies without visible tattoos still have tattoos, and they are more defined and beautiful, but they are not visible to the ordinary eye!

Incredible Mummy Tattoos

The first Siberian ice maiden had tattoos depicting a fantastic deer with a beak of griffin and horns of ibex. Below it – a ram with his head thrown back. Below the ram – a spotted leopard.

Another woman on her right hand had an excellent tattoo with a scene of wild animals attacking a deer:

a scene of wild animals attacking a deer

And one of the men had a superb tattoo of a tiger:

a superb tattoo of a tiger

Animals (real and imaginary) or fighting of animals was the main theme in tattoos covering the bodies of discovered mummies of both women and men.

Tribe in Tattoos

Initially it was believed that tattoos were worn only by the leaders of the tribe as a sign of special status. But later tattoos were found on all of the mummies, suggesting that tattoos likely had a meaning of some kind of protection on the part of the animal-protector depicted of human skin.

If that is true, then the tattoos of Siberian mummies in their protective character are very different from the meaning of tattoos-stamps on slaves and gladiators in ancient Greece and Rome, representing a unique phenomenon.

The mummies were found on the highland plateau UkokThe mummies were found on the highland plateau Ukok.  The first mummy, found in 1993, is also referred to as “Ukok Princess”

Where the Tattooed Tribe Came from

DNA analysis of the mummies conducted by the group of Vyacheslav Molodin (husband of Natalia Polosmak) showed a paradoxical result: the tattooed tribe is closer to the Europeansand not to the representatives of Central Asia, to which belongs current population of the Altai. That is we can say that the tattooed tribe came to Siberia from the European part of the Eurasian continent.

Superstitions of Local People

Locals named the first extracted Siberian ice maiden “Altai Princess”. Although scientists categorize the mummy as middle class. Local residents have many superstitions related to the mummy. For example, they believe that while the “Altai Princess” is out of her burial, the Altai will be threatened by natural disasters.


To discover Russia with Alexey Gureev

Photos 1 and 2 from site-monograph by L. Barkova, S. Pankova

Photo 3 – фотобанк Лори

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