Scientists launch bid to solve mystery of mummified Siberian royals

THE mummified bodies of two heavily tattooed ancient chieftains are undergoing extensive tests in a bid to find out why the mummy died.

Archaeologists first dug up the mummified remains of a man and woman in 1949 from a 42 metre-wide burial chamber in the Altai Mountains of Siberia.

They pair were buried alongside nine horses, a huge cache of cannabis and a stash of priceless treasures — including the world’s oldest carpet and an ornate carriage.

The man had curly hair and was aged between 55 and 60 when he died, while the woman was about 10 years younger.

It is believed he was a chieftain or king of the Pazyryk civilisation, which lived in Kazakhstan, Siberia and Mongolia from the sixth to third centuries BC.

Now their bodies are set to undergo extensive testing by radiologists, anthropologists and archaeologists, TSB Reports.

It is hoped we will be able to find out a little bit more about the lives of the dead royals and discover what caused them to die.

The scans 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.

Scientists launch bid to solve mystery of mummy Siberian royals

Soviet archaeologist Sergey Rudenko led the original excavation and found the perfectly preserved bodies frozen in ice.

After making the astonishing discovery, he wrote: “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.”

It is believed the ancient royals were then stuffed with horse hair.

Although grave robbers nicked many of the priceless items, they left two carpets behind which are the oldest ever discovered.

They are believed to have been woven in the fifth century BC.

Both the bodies were tattooed with images of real animals, which is quite rare in the Pazyryk culture.

The man had a “feline predator” on his left shoulder and a horse on his right. He also had bird tattoos on his hands.

On the woman’s left arms was a complex images of tigers killing a moose, while she had a cock on her hand.

It is believed this very detailed tattoo may have been influenced by Chinese art, suggesting the Pazyryk people enjoyed links with cultures which lived far away from their own.

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