The Siberian Ice Maiden
Written By Emma Byrne
The Siberian Ice Maiden is a 2400 year old mummy from Siberia, whose preserved corpse was discovered by Archaeologists excavating in the Altai Mountains, near the Chinese border. The Ice Maiden was discovered in 1993 during a process of a dig led by Natalya Polosmak, of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The archaeologists proved to be extremely lucky in the finding of the Ice Maiden as they nearly missed the tomb. Polosmak and her team were lead to a burial site by a commander, as he knew all the sites in the area. There was a grave above the Ice Maiden, which had been plundered yet they persisted and dug to find the Ice Maiden undisturbed since around 400BC. They had to first remove by hand many hundreds of stones that covered the tomb. After weeks of careful digging, they reached the tomb. They found a large unscathed wooden casket that had flooded with water, now frozen. Against the outer wall of the casket lied the remains of six frozen horses. These animals had been sacrificed.
The Ice Maiden was found uncovered in a casket made of a hollowed out trunk of a larch tree. On the exterior of the casket were leather carvings of images of deer and snow leopards. The coffin was secured with large nails made of heavy copper, two on each side. The nails assisted the lid was secured and the water was trapped in the coffin. Finally when the team had opened the lid they found the ice to misty to see through it and began the process of melting.
The thawing process went on by taking huge drums of water from a lake nearby and heating the water with a blowtorch, then taking cups of the heated water and pouring it carefully and slowly to the ice. Eventually, after quite a while the team discovered a woman’s body, still covered in flesh, preserved by the ice. The archaeologists were shocked to find tattoos on the woman’s left arm and thumb. The mummy was slowly melting and deteriorating so the...
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