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Siberian Ice Maiden

2,500-year-old Siberian Ice Maiden will finally be laid to rest in her homeland

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The Siberian Ice Maiden, also known as the Princess of Ukok and the Altai Princess of Ochi-Bala, is a 2,500-year-old mummy of a woman found in 1993 in a kurgan (mound) of the Pazyryk culture in the Republic of Altai, Russia. It was considered to be among the most significant archaeological findings in Russia of the late 20th century.  The indigenous people of Altai have been campaigning for years to rebury her remains, and now this wish may finally become a reality with plans presented for the construction of a special monument in her honor.

The Ice Maiden, believed to be only 25-28 years old when she died, was found undisturbed in a subterranean burial chamber on the Ukok Plateau near the border of China, in what is now the Autonomous Republic of Altai. The plateau, part of the Eurasian Steppes, is characterized by a harsh, arid climate. The area is known by the local people as the “second layer of heaven.” As well as the sarcophagus with the mummy, six horses richly saddled and harnessed and two warriors were found indicating that the woman came from a noble clan.

The Siberian Ice Maiden was discovered in a mound on the Ukok Plateau

The Siberian Ice Maiden was discovered in a mound on the Ukok Plateau. Credit: Zabara Alexander / flickr

The indigenous people of Altai believe the Ice Maiden was a priestess who chose to die to protect the Earth from evil spirits and that the scientific testing on her remains have angered her spirit, causing natural disasters.  Her remains have undergone an endless series of tests at the Museum of the Novosibirsk Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, which has included facial reconstruction, X-Rays, CAT scans, DNA tests, and other analyses. Several months ago, a council of elders in Russia’s Altay Region voted to rebury her remains in order to appease her spirit.

Reconstruction of the Ice Maiden's face

Reconstruction of the Ice Maiden's face. (Wikipedia)

The TASS Russian News Agency reports that this may now become a reality as sketches of a proposed burial mound have been presented in the Republic of Altai.

“It is supposed that the mummy will be buried at its original burial place, in the Ukok plateau, from where it was unearthed by archaeologists in 1993. A burial monument will be erected above the grave, a kind of mausoleum. Now we have several designs,” Altai Kine, the president of the Kin Altai Turkic Spiritual Centre, a regional public organization, told TASS. He added that final approval has not yet been received from the government to rebury the Ice Maiden, “but we do believe this young woman will finally rest in peace.”

Sketches of the proposed Mausoleum for the Siberian Ice Maiden

Sketches of the proposed Mausoleum for the Siberian Ice Maiden. Picture: Spiritual Centre of the Turks Kin Altai

Kine explained that any proposed designs for the mausoleum must meet three criteria: “Firstly, the body should be reposed in the site of the original burial. Second, the mausoleum mound must be made according to the traditions that were followed when the Princess was buried. And third, scientists shall be granted access to the body.”

The Siberian Times reports that the options for the mausoleum are being made public to initiate public discussion in the media, with the hope to gain final approval and move the project along so the Ukok Princess may finally rest in peace in her homeland.

Featured image: The Ukok Princess of Siberia (Wikipedia)

By April Holloway

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April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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