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Meet the mummified Polar beauty, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years

By Anna Liesowska
04 August 2017

Unearthed on the edge of the Arctic, she is the only woman so far found in an otherwise all-male necropolis, buried in a cocoon of copper and fur.

She has long eyelashes, a full head of hair - and impressive teeth. Picture: Irina Sharova

This haunting 12th century woman is a member of an unknown hunting and fishing civilisation that held sway in the far north of Siberia - with surprising links to Persia.

Accidentlally mummified and probably aged around 35, her delicate features are visible, the green tinge on her face being the traces of the pieces of a copper kettle that helped preserve her in her permafrost grave. 

She has long eyelashes, a full head of hair - and impressive teeth.

Bronze temple rings were found close to her skull, wrapped inside animal skin - possibly reindeer  - and birch bark that cocooned her. 

Like other human remains, the medieval mummy's feet were turned towards  nearby  Gorny Poluy River, a fact seen as having religious significance.

She was around 155 centimetres tall - 5ft 1 inch.

Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years


Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years


Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years


Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years


Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years
A raft of tests - including DNA - will be carried out by the joint team of Russian and South Korean scientists. Pictures: Institute of the Problems of Northern Development SB RAS


A baby - almost certainly a girl and too young to have teeth - also unearthed during this summer's dig at Zeleny Yar archaeological site near Salekhard is not believed to be related to the woman, the rest of whose body is not well preserved. 

Archaeologist Alexander Gusev, from Russia's Arctic Research Centre, confirmed that the copper-clad mummy was the first find of an adult woman in this ancient burial site.

'There are some badly preserved bones, which do not allow us to determine the gender, but he we clearly see from the face that she was a woman,' he said. 

'This radically changes our concept about this graveyard. 

'Previously we thought that there were only adult men and children, but now we have a woman.

'It's amazing.'

Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years


Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years


Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years


Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years


Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years
'Previously we thought that there were only adult men and children, but now we have a woman - it's amazing.' Pictures: Institute of the Problems of Northern Development SB RAS


The people to which this woman belonged survived by hunting and fishing on the edge of the Arctic Circle - but among three dozen adult graves previously investigated, all contained male remains, some with their skulls smashed, possibly suggesting this woman was socially important.

There were also graves of children of both genders.

A raft of tests - including DNA - will be carried out by the joint team of Russian and South Korean scientists investigating these archeological remains. 

Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years
The woman was around 155 centimetres tall - 5ft 1 inch. Picture: Institute of the Problems of Northern Development SB RAS


Dr Sergey Slepchenko, researcher at the Institute of the Problems of Northern Development SB RAS, Tyumen, said the head preserved well because it was 'wrapped' in pieces of copper kettle

'The woman and the baby are from different graves, so we cannot say they are related,' he said. 'Definitely not a mother and child.'

Analysis is likely to take a year - and will depend on government funding for analysis seen by the academics as crucial to understanding the human presence in the Arctic. 

He hopes to reconstruct the face of the woman. 

Dr Slepchenko said: '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.' 

Brain samples have been taken from the woman for paleo-DNA analysis

Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years


Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years


Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years


Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years

'Arctic mummies, similar to those found in the Zeleny Yar, are very rare.' Pictures: Institute of the problems of Northern Development SB RAS


Prof Dong-Hoon Shin, from Seoul National University, said: 'In the world there are two types of mummies - artificial and natural. 

'Excellent examples of mummies of artificial origin are Egyptian. 

'The natural mummification of bodies of the buried is usually observed when certain conditions of the environment - permafrost, the presence of copper objects in the burial - and climate. 

'They are found in deserts and in the north. 

'Arctic mummies, similar to those found in the Zeleny Yar, are very rare. That is why they are unique.' 

He said: 'Due to the high level of preservation the mummies internal organs are intact, too, which is incredibly interesting for our research.' 

Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years


Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years
The mummy on way from the burial site to laboratory. Pictures: Alexander Gusev


Previous finds at the Zeleniy Yar burial site near Salekhard have included bronze bowls originating in ancient Persia, around 6,000 kilometres to the south-west.

One earlier find was a 'red-haired man' buried with a bronze buckle depicting a brown bear. 

VIDEO credit Vesti-Yamal


Comments (11)

If somebody went out and dug up my grandma, i would be upset. She has only been dead for 59 years, no great riches and cultural artifacts were with her. It would just be morbid. But this woman has great scientific value. The sooner we all realize we are just one race, one world, if not brothers and sisters, Cousins. This lady was recently featured in Archaeology Today. She is a world treasure. After we have learned all that is posible, take her home, put her back with her people. Bring in a local Shaman, say a prayer of gratitude for her gift to our understanding.
Paige, Hallsville, USA
10/11/2017 12:04
0
0
If someone exhumed my great great great great etcetera Grandfather's grave I think I'd sue the lot of you ... history be damned!
Lindi Smith, Victoria, Canada
15/10/2017 00:12
0
3
My point of wiev is so called "life after dearh" l am sure, one day scientests will be able to create life wit someone's DNA.
Sertac Tuncer, Turkey
09/08/2017 17:20
2
0
It is sometimes difficult for others to see what doing an autopsy on a long dead human will add to our present day knowledge but the wealth of information she holds is immense. DNA can reveal her ancestors and their migration patterns, health problems and ancestral DNA tells us with whom did they mate and the amount of DNA of early hominids they received. Bones tell us if there was enough to eat, overall health and diseases present.The teeth and plaque tells us what they ate and where they spent their early lives...pollen in her hair and clothing tells us about the climate and vegetation at the time of her death. They can reveal if she has descendants still living. Her grave goods tell us about their technology, trade, fashion and what they considered valuable.The dead tell us so much, they are a link to our past and help us predict our future. We need to treat the remains with respect.
Elizabeth Hudson, Canada
08/08/2017 22:05
16
0
if dont care then why not just throw it in the bin , why do all the rituals and ceremony of burial ?
Surely it does matter and being dug up isnt the expectation .
reader , Russia
08/08/2017 05:32
0
7
If someone dug me up 900 years from now, long after anyone remembered my name - I wouldn't be able to care because I'd still be dead. In fact, there wouldn't be an "I" anymore. There's no such thing as rest in peace for bones. Can we say the same for meatloaf?
Shawn Bushway, Dallas, GA USA
07/08/2017 05:51
5
3
My be these so called scientists will enjoy it too , when 900 years later some future scientists will dig them up for thier experiments
reader, Russia
06/08/2017 02:20
2
23
i find the news of such activity just sick, and wish these so-called scientists would stop doing this .
reader, irkutsk
05/08/2017 05:09
6
36
Did the lady ( and any ones who is buried after death ) expect that in 900 years time someone will dig them up to be subject of a voyuer . As far as I know, a burial after death is to Rest in Peace Forever .
reader, irkutsk
05/08/2017 05:07
7
32
Bizhan Shamoradi,

Previous finds at the same archaeological dig site have unearthed relics that originated in Persia in the 13th century,
I hope this helps.

http://siberiantimes.com/science/casestudy/features/mummified-by-accident-in-copper-masks-almost-1000-years-ago-but-who-were-they/
Ben Clarke, Worcester, United Kingdom
05/08/2017 00:39
21
0
with surprising links to Persia.

See no explanations in the text. Can you please detail a bit?
Bizhan Shamoradi, Vienna, Austria
04/08/2017 23:10
15
0
1

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