"Altai Princess" - a scientific sensation and a disturbed shrine
"Altai Princess" - a scientific sensation and a disturbed shrine
Reconstruction of the “Altai Princess” burial

Altai has repeatedly admired archaeologists with amazing historical artifacts, because mountain burials are perfectly preserved in the permafrost. The most famous find was the burial of "Princess Ukok", which, as they say in the Urals, was guarded by an ancient curse.

Ukok plateau, Altai. More than three thousand meters above sea level

In 1993, Novosibirsk archaeologists investigated the Ak-Alakha-3 mound on the Ukok plateau, Altai Republic. The mound was plundered long ago and was in a dilapidated state, and scientists did not expect anything sensational. First, they went to the ruined burial of the Iron Age, but under it they unexpectedly discovered another, more ancient one. The burial was untouched, its interior was filled with ice. Now archaeologists have understood: the mound, contrary to their expectations, can present many surprises. The news of the find instantly spread around the world: soon scientists from Switzerland, Belgium, Japan and the USA, as well as journalists from National Geographic, arrived at the excavation site.

Experienced members of the expedition led by Doctor of Sciences Natalya Polosmak were curious, however, in order not to damage the contents of the mound, they had to act very carefully. It took several days to melt a huge block of ice with the help of hot water. When the deed was done, under a layer of ice, scientists found six horses with saddles and harnesses, as well as a wooden block, inside which was a well-preserved mummy.

This is how the Altai mummy was seen by archaeologists who found it

She was a young woman of about 25 years old. The body lay on its side, the legs were bent. The clothes of the deceased have survived: a shirt made of Chinese silk, a woolen skirt, a fur coat and stockings-boots made of felt. All signs indicated that the burial belonged to the Scythian Pazyryk culture, which was widespread in Altai two and a half thousand years ago.

The mummy of the "Altai princess"

The appearance of the mummy testified to the peculiar fashion of those times: a wig made of horsehair was worn on a shaved head, arms and shoulders were covered with numerous tattoos. In particular, on the left shoulder was depicted a fantastic deer with a griffin's beak and ibex horns - a sacred Altai symbol.

One of the tattoos that covered the body of the mummy

Of course, the find caused a considerable public outcry. The press immediately dubbed the girl "Altai Princess" or "Princess Ukok". However, scientists considered such statements rash: neither the size of the mound, nor the things of the deceased (with the exception of an expensive silk shirt) did not indicate her noble origin. Although the Altai girl cannot be called a commoner. Apparently, this was the owner of some "secret knowledge" - for example, a healer and a sorcerer.

The mummy was urgently taken to Novosibirsk, where the study continued. The local specialists were joined by guests from Moscow - employees of the Research Institute at the Mausoleum of V.I. Lenin. Analysis of the remains showed that the "princess" belonged to the Caucasian race. The girl was buried a few months after her death - in March-April, when her short life ended. Special balms, wax and mercury were used to mummify the body.

Variants of reconstruction of the appearance of "Princess Ukok"

Local shamans said that archaeologists had not told them anything new: they had known for a long time about this sacred burial for them. The deceased, they said, is their legendary ancestor Kydyn (another name is Ochy-Bala). The body, therefore, must be returned from Novosibirsk to Altai and no longer disturbed. The arguments of archaeologists that genetically "Kydyn" had nothing to do with the modern inhabitants of the republic did not work. Even with time, the hype around the "Altai princess" did not subside.

Altai Princess tattoos

Before the elections in the Altai Republic, some politicians and parties promised to return the shrine in case of their victory. In 1998, the local Kurultai, having no authority to do so, declared Ukok a "zone of peace" - henceforth, excavations here were prohibited. Numerous media outlets continued to circulate information about the "curse of the Altai princess" - they say, the disturbance of the mummy's peace has caused numerous troubles and cataclysms. Among them is the earthquake that happened in Altai in 2003 and even the monetization of benefits.

Mummy in the laboratory (no wig)

The decision of local parliamentarians on the "peace zone" was subsequently canceled. And in September of this year, the aspirations of thousands of Altaians finally came true: accompanied by shamans, the mummy was returned to their "small homeland."

Now the sarcophagus with "Princess Ukok" is kept in the Anokhin National Museum in Gorno-Altaysk. The museum building was thoroughly restored, and a separate extension was built for the "princess". All this was sponsored by Gazprom. The head of the company, Alexei Miller, at the grand opening of the museum, grateful Altaians presented the highest republican order and presented a horse. And the orchestra performed a specially written ode to Gazprom in the Altai language.

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