New DNA findings alter the sex of one of most famous recent Siberian archeological finds of human remains.
Archeologists and anthropologists believed she was not only female - and a pig-tailed teenager - but a member of an elite corps of warriors within the Pazyryk culture. Picture: Marcel Nyffenegger, Natalia Polosmak
A Swiss taxidermy expert brought 'her' to life, recreating the 'virgin' warrior's looks from facial bones, and some observers commented on her distinctly masculine appearance.
Yet archeologists and anthropologists believed she was not only female - and a pig-tailed teenager - but a member of an elite corps of warriors within the Pazyryk culture which suggested likenesses to the fabled Amazon warriors of known to the Greeks.
Entombed next to a much older man - perhaps father and daughter? - the remains lay beside shields, battle axes, bows and arrowheads, while the warrior's physique indicated a skilled horse rider and archer.
Some observers commented on her distinctly masculine appearance. Pictures: Marcel Nyffenegger, Natalia Polosmak and Elena Shumakova for Science First Hand
Cowrie shells, amulets for female fertility but exceptionally rare in Pazyryk burials, were a tell-tale sign that this was a young woman, but so were various adornments to the grave - for example, the 'coffin', the wooden pillow, the quiver, all smaller in comparison to usual male burials. In a singular honour, nine horses - four of them bridled - were buried with the skeleton, an escort to the afterlife.
But a major revamping is now underway. New DNA analysis indicates unequivocally that the remains were male and not female.
The pioneering research was conducted by the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Novosibirsk State University.
Entombed next to a much older man - perhaps father and daughter? - the remains lay beside shields, battle axes, bows and arrowheads, while the warrior's physique indicated a skilled horse rider and archer. Pictures: Natalia Polosmak
This obtained 'reliable molecular genetic data' indicating that the supposed female warrior 'was male', according to a report released by Science First Hand co-authored by Dr Alexander Pilipenko, of the Institute of Cytology and Genetics, and Dr Natalia Polosmak, of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, at the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in Novosibirsk.
The research also found that the relationship between the two people buried in the tomb at the Ak-Alakha 1 Mound 1 was not father and son but perhaps uncle and nephew. The cause of death of the pig-tailed ancient youth was not established.
Swiss expert Marcel Nyffenegger was asked to recreate a likeness of the supposed female warrior for the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer, Germany. Pictures: Marcel Nyffenegger
The discovery of the remains was described in a 1994 book by Dr Polosmak as 'unique' because of the way the female skeleton was dressed in male clothing and buried with weapons.
Swiss expert Marcel Nyffenegger was asked to recreate a likeness of the supposed female warrior for the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer, Germany.
Working with a 3D model of the skull, he spent a month painstakingly piecing together her facial muscles and tissue layers as well as reconstructing her skin structure, eyes and expression.
The resulting Plasticine model was then covered with silicone and a rubber-resin mixture before finer details such as eyebrows and eyelashes were added.
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