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Archeologists and anthropologists believed the warrior 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

Female Amazon warrior buried 2,500 years ago in Altai Mountains was... male

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By The Siberian Times reporter

New DNA findings have altered the sex of one of most famous recent Siberian archeological finds of human remains. 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

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

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

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

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

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 burial ground was not father and son but perhaps uncle and nephew. The cause of death of the pig-tailed ancient youth was not established. 

Clay reconstruction by Swiss expert Marcel Nyffenegger

Restored face likeness by Swiss expert Marcel Nyffenegger

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. 

Featured image: Archeologists and anthropologists believed the warrior 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

The article ‘ Female 'Amazon' warrior buried 2,500 years ago in Altai Mountains was... male ’ was originally published on The Siberian Times and has been republished with permission.

Comments

Also of course, human nature being what it is, if there were female warriors then it is not out of the bounds of possibility that certain young men might want to join that elite group, specially if they were of the effeminate type ! We do not inspect people's genitalia to make sure their gender is 'correct' even now !

Veronica

The details of the DNA analysis conducted in Novosibirsk, including the methods and markers, are summarized here: http://scfh.ru/en/news/the-ukok-female-warrior-has-changed-sex-new-paleo...
According to Natalia Polosmak, this discovery does not rule out the possibility that there WERE female 'Amazon' warriors in the Altai Mountains 2,500 years ago. Just this one is not an "unfeminine" girl, but a young man

Call me a stickler Tom, but I was responding to your comment about seperate species not being able to interbreed.  Also, I don’t agree with your remark about white people.  I wonder how long it’ll take before the Hitler effect on society wears off.

Exactly. Humans and other creatures have an instinct to pro-create. But because modern archaeology and anthropology has a very Euro-centric bias, few openly talk about sex as a major force in human history. Sexually repressed European and American scientists dance around the question of sex.

Signs of interbreeding exist all over the world and must have happened long ago and continued throughout history. And as you point out, tigrs and lions make ligers. That comes from the over emphasis on physical appearances, which I think happened for simiar reasons related to Euro-centrism and racism. White people like to think of themselves as inately smarter than others, and that affects their view of nature and history.

Superficial appearances don't tell the story. DNA and other methods someday might.

Tom Carberry

Though I’m no expert on the subject, there are numerous examples of seperate species under the same genus breeding; for example lions and tigers.  Of course, all of these categories are defined by humans, not nature.  Nonetheless...

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