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Ancient mummy 'with 1,100 year old Adidas boots' died after she was struck on the head

By Olga Gertcyk
12 April 2017

As well as her amazing 'modern' footwear, this Mongolian 'seamstress' went to the afterlife with four changes of clothes, her sewing kit, a horse and a ram's head.

'Adidas mummy', Mongolia. Picture: The Mongolian Observer/The Center of Cultural Heritage of Mongolia

New pictures of the mummy's remarkable red striped boots - first highlighted by The Siberian Times in April last year and now cleaned up after being buried in a grave for around 1,100 years - have been released. When they were first seen, they were immediately likened to the Adidas design. 

Now their modish appearance is even clearer, and it intrigues Mongolian archeologists and ethnographers. 

One local fashion expert said: 'Overall they look quite kinky but stylish - I wouldn't mind wearing them now in a colder climate. 

'Those high-quality stitches, the bright red and black stripes, the length - I would buy them now in no time.'

Ancient mummy with 1,100 year old Adidas boots died after she was struck on the head


Ancient mummy with 1,100 year old Adidas boots died after she was struck on the headAncient mummy with 1,100 year old Adidas boots died after she was struck on the head


Ancient mummy with 1,100 year old Adidas boots died after she was struck on the head
Archeologists found items from her beauty kit - part of a mirror and a comb - and also a knife. Pictures: The Mongolian Observer/The Center of Cultural Heritage of Mongolia


But it wasn't only the beautifully sewn boots.

In her grave, too, was a fashionable ancient clutch bag that could be a desirable accessory today. 

Archeologists found items from her beauty kit - part of a mirror and a comb - and also a knife.  

She took to the next life a saddle with metal stirrups, found in such perfect condition that it could still be used today.

Adidas mummy Mongolia


Adidas mummy Mongolia


Adidas mummy Mongolia


Adidas mummy Mongolia


Adidas mummy Mongolia
The woman is believed to have been aged between 30 and 40. Pictures: The Mongolian Observer/The Center of Cultural Heritage of Mongolia


Galbadrakh Enkhbat, director of the Centre of Cultural Heritage of Mongolia, said: 'The felt boots are knee length, the soles are leather, and the toecap has stitched stripes in bright red colours.

'With these stripes, when the find was made public, they were dubbed as similar to Adidas shoes with the three stripes. 

'In this sense, they are an interesting object of study for ethnographers, especially so when the style is very modern.'

Ancient mummy with 1,100 year old Adidas boots died after she was struck on the head


Ancient mummy with 1,100 year old Adidas boots died after she was struck on the head


Ancient mummy with 1,100 year old Adidas boots died after she was struck on the head
The high altitude and resulting cold helped the preservation but the body was also covered in Shilajit, a thick, sticky tar-like substance with the colour ranging from white to dark brown. Pictures: The Mongolian Observer/The Center of Cultural Heritage of Mongolia


Scientists have also discovered that the mummy suffered a significant head injury - but it is not known if this was the actual cause of the woman's death sometime in the tenth century in the Altai Mountains of Mongolia. 

Nor it is clear if she was attacked or fell, although further research may answer this. 

Initial examinations found that 'it was quite possible that the traces of a blow of the mummy's facial bones were the cause of her death', he said.

She is believed to have been aged between 30 and 40. 

'Judging by what was found inside the burial we guess that she was from an ordinary social strata,' said Galbadrakh Enkhbat. 

This is despite the classy appearance of some of the possessions with which she is buried, which might suggest to the uninformed a higher status.

'Various sewing utensils were found with her. This is only our guess, but we think she could have been a seamstress.'

Ancient mummy with 1,100 year old Adidas boots died after she was struck on the head


Ancient mummy with 1,100 year old Adidas boots died after she was struck on the head


Ancient mummy with 1,100 year old Adidas boots died after she was struck on the head


Ancient mummy with 1,100 year old Adidas boots died after she was struck on the head
'Various sewing utensils were found with her. This is only our guess, but we think she could have been a seamstress.' Pictures: The Mongolian Observer/The Center of Cultural Heritage of Mongolia


With her in the grave - found at an altitude of 2,803 metres above sea level - archeologists unearthed 51 items including a 'stunningly beautiful embroidered bag', four costumes, vases, a saddle, her sewing kit and the skull head of a ram.

'The bag was made of felt,' he said. 'Inside was the sewing kit and since the embroidery was on both the bag and the shoes, we can be certain that the embroidery was done by locals.

The women is believed to be of Turkik origin, and the burial is one of the most complete ever found. 

Experts now believe on the basis of 18 samples taken from the mummy that it does not date from the 6th century AD, as first surmised, but rather from the 10th century, but DNA and radiocarbon testing is still awaited. 

'It is the first complete Turkik burial at least in Mongolia - and probably in all Central Asia,' said researcher B.Sukhbaatar, of Khovd Museum. 'This is a very rare phenomenon. 

'These finds show us the beliefs and rituals of Turkiks. We can see clearly that the horse was deliberately sacrificed. It was a mare, between four and eight years old.'

He said: 'When the find was first made in 2015, it was relatively intact but in 2016 some portions of the grave had opened up, livestock animals had eaten some part of it, which prompted the joint team to dig the find and take it to the Khovd museum.'

Ancient mummy with 1,100 year old Adidas boots died after she was struck on the head


Ancient mummy with 1,100 year old Adidas boots died after she was struck on the head


Ancient mummy with 1,100 year old Adidas boots died after she was struck on the head
'It is the first complete Turkik burial at least in Mongolia - and probably in all Central Asia,' said researcher B.Sukhbaatar, of Khovd Museum. Pictures: The Mongolian Observer/The Center of Cultural Heritage of Mongolia


The burial was undertaken as if those responsible intended the remains to be preserved. 

The high altitude and resulting cold helped the preservation but the body was also covered in Shilajit, a thick, sticky tar-like substance with the colour ranging from white to dark brown.

The body - like the horse's remains - was covered in felt. 

'As the grave was buried in a cool environment, fabric and the felt did not undergo a biological reaction,' said Galbadrakh Enkhbat. 'They appeared as if they had been used only yesterday. 

'Had they been buried in the soil, nothing would have remained.'

The mummy is being exhibited in the National Museum of Mongolia. 

With her in the grave - found at an altitude of 2,803 metres above sea level - archeologists unearthed 51 items including a 'stunningly beautiful embroidered bag', four costumes, vases, a saddle, her sewing kit and the skull head of a ram. Pictures: The Mongolian Observer/The Center of Cultural Heritage of Mongolia

Adidas mummy Mongolia

Adidas mummy Mongolia


Adidas mummy Mongolia


Adidas mummy Mongolia

Comments (24)

Very interesting. From the amount of items buried with her, especially her horse, I would say she was either upper class or a very popular person. I would guess she was very popular since the climate and environment she lived in was probably even more harsh than today so a person as handy as her would be well appreciated. I'll bet she was a beauty too....
Erik Bosma, Mission, BC, Canada
09/06/2017 09:59
0
0
It is most unfortunate the grave was evidently left unsecured for a year, 2015-2016, and thus the site damaged. One would think any find of this historical importance would be better managed. Fortunately enough material remained for study, display, and hopefully proper preservation.

It is fascinating to see the aesthetics of 10th century design/style so closely relate to modern design/style. Perhaps humans share, and have shared for millennia, a common aesthetic sense regardless of cultural and /or ethnic background. This would be an interesting concept for study.
Alan Gaines, USA
02/06/2017 00:31
1
0
Do you know when the report on the find will be published? I am especially interested in the textiles.
Susan Farmer, Knoxville, Tennessee
22/05/2017 04:57
2
0
An artist's rendition of what she might have looked like...with outfit and animal...would have been interesting.
Doc, U.S.
06/05/2017 18:01
7
1
she was buried with a sewing kit .so one can say she wore her trade on her body /like today if a woman works in clothing store she tends to buy from her place of work .i have seen women that work in jewelery shops with what seems like extra gold or silver items so this woman was just showing what she could do
jr, canada
01/05/2017 23:21
2
0
It's amazing how fashion and a sense of what is fashionable has changed so little over 1100 years ! Absolutely love the boots ! And the dress looks very modern also.
Raoul Smit, Brisbane, Australia
30/04/2017 14:59
2
0
If I were found 1100 years later, dig me up! Learn all you can! Use my DNA and bring me back for a look and see at the new world, then let me rest in peace...
Bradley, Santa Paula, CA, USA
19/04/2017 07:24
5
1
Her style of clothing has an appeal that could generate a modern reproduction of attire that would not be out of place in most cultures. One could look at it as a testimony to her and her culture.
Jim Gilligan, yuma, AZ. United States
19/04/2017 05:11
3
0
The saddle has a similar split back design to a civil war Mcllelan saddle, which he supposedly invented. About a thousand years late,eh?
B Deck, Usa
18/04/2017 08:06
2
1
How can they say she was ordinary status? It is not possible every person was buried with this attention to detail
Boulder girl , Zebang
17/04/2017 04:46
6
0
This is a stunning discovery. However, it has been cheapened by an idiotic article..."adidas boots" ? This kind of journalism undermines the culture of the burial, her artifacts and the ties to modern people in the area....be a rebel..read a book!
Anne Albaugh, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
16/04/2017 09:40
20
6
Last year i discovered some midle bronze age graves with unique bracelets but this is so beautiful. The art of textile working is perfect
Jan Harustiak, Slovakia
15/04/2017 04:45
10
0
The article stated: When the find was first made in 2015, it was relatively intact but in 2016 some portions of the grave had opened up, livestock animals had eaten some part of it, which prompted the joint team to dig the find and take it to the Khovd museum.'


There was no "rest in peace option." Her grave was open and the body and contents would be scattered and destroyed. The decision was made to learn as much as possible.


Our modern cemeteries are also not "rest in peace." Cemeteries go bankrupt, are abandoned, or lost. Those buried there are disinterred to reuse the land. The African Burial Ground National Monument is an example. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_Burial_Ground_National_Monument
Icabod, Seattle, wa
14/04/2017 22:54
17
3
When someone is buried we say "Rest in peace". But it seems like it's okay to just go around digging everyone up from long ago, and sorting through them. We gain some information on them, yes. But really, they were people and they should be allowed to "Rest in Peace." Stop doing it!
Trev, New Zealand
14/04/2017 17:43
13
29
Very exciting and wonderful photos.
James Garrison, Minneapolis, USA
14/04/2017 11:24
10
1
12

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