– In 1949, archaeologists discovered a large burial chamber in the Altai Mountains of Siberia. Inside it, scientists found the remains of a woman and man, along with plenty of priceless ancient treasures, including plenty of cannabis and the world’s oldest carpet and an ornate carriage.
Examination of the ancient mummies revealed the man between 55 and 60 when he died, while the woman was about 10 years younger.
The man was a chieftain or king of the Pazyryk civilization that existed in the Altai region about 2,500 years ago through the end of 600 B.C to the beginning of 200 B.C.
The two bodies were in good condition because they were encased in ice for thousands of years in the valley of the River Bolshoy Ulagan.
Scientists are now using sophisticated technology to learn more about the two ancient mummies. The goal is learn to more about the lives of the dead royals and discover what caused them to die.
According to Soviet archaeologist Sergey Rudenko led the original excavation and found the perfectly preserved bodies frozen in ice, “both the man and woman were of Caucasoid type”.
Their hair was soft, the man’s a little curly and dark. The woman’s dark brown. Their faces were long and narrow, the man had a sharply protruding aquiline nose.
The man’s head, except for the back, was shaved. The woman’s head was also shaved, except that on top was a pigtail.
Both bodies were mummified, using the same method. The skulls were trepanned and the brain was removed. Through a slice in the abdomen, from the ribs to the groin, the intestines were removed.
In addition, through special sections of the chest, back, arms and legs were removed all the muscles of the body, so that remaining was only the skeleton and skin.”
The man and the woman have several intriguing tattoos that depict not fantastical creatures, but real animals. The woman has no tattoos on her shoulders, but many on her forearms. On her left arm is a predatory bird, killing a deer or moose. On her hand is a cock: she, too, only had real animals depicted on her skin.
On her left forearm is a complicated – and unusual for this culture – scene with two tigers and a snow leopard attacking deer and moose. Some experts believe the images indicate a Chinese influence, suggesting the Pazyryk people enjoyed links with cultures which lived far away from their own.
Most of the treasures of the grave were robbed in prehistoric times, but famously two carpets remained – which are the oldest in the world. They contain remarkable images – shown in these striking pictures – of life in the Pazyryk era in Siberia.
The scans of the ancient mummies will be conducted at The Hermitage, a famous museum in St Petersburg where their bodies have been held since being dug out of the burial mound.