Zeleniy Yar (Russie): Mummified by accident in copper masks almost 1,000 years ago: but who were they?
Academics restart work to unlock secrets of mystery medieval civilization with links to Persia on edge of the Siberian Arctic.
A red-haired man was found, protected from chest to foot by copper plating. Picture: Kate Baklitskaya, Go East
The 34 shallow graves excavated by archeologists at Zeleniy Yar throw up many more questions than answers. But one thing seems clear: this remote spot, 29 km shy of the Arctic Circle, was a trading crossroads of some importance around one millennium ago.
The medieval necropolis include 11 bodies with shattered or missing skulls, and smashed skeletons. Five mummies were found to be shrouded in copper, while also elaborately covered in reindeer, beaver, wolverine or bear fur. Among the graves is just one female, a child, her face masked by copper plates. There are no adult women.
Nearby were found three copper masked infant mummies - all males. They were bound in four or five copper hoops, several centimeters wide.
Similarly, a red-haired man was found, protected from chest to foot by copper plating. In his resting place, was an iron hatchet, furs, and a head buckle made of bronze depicting a bear.
The feet of the deceased are all pointing towards the Gorny Poluy River, a fact which is seen as having religious significance. The burial rituals are unknown to experts.
Five mummies were found shrouded in copper, while also elaborately covered in reindeer, beaver, wolverine or bear fur. Pictures: The SIberian Times, Natalya Fyodorova