Zeleny Yar (Russie): 'Mummy of a child warrior from 'lost medieval civilisation' unearthed near Arctic'
Wrapped in reindeer hide and fur, the 6-to-7 year old was protected by a child-sized bronze axe and bear's pendant.
The child - seen here in these remarkable pictures for the first time - appears to be from a higher social strata that previous remains unearthed at the site, the mysterious Zeleny Yar necropolis. Picture: Yamalo-Nenets regional Museum and Exhibition Complex
Scientists this week opened the mummified child's remains cocooned in birch bark and copper which - combined with the permafrost - produced an accidental mummification.
The child - seen here in these remarkable pictures for the first time - appears to be from a higher social strata that previous remains unearthed at the site, the mysterious Zeleny Yar necropolis, close to the Siberian Arctic, which had ancient links to Persia. So far only one female - a child - has been found at the burial place.
The major new find close to Salekhard is seen as exciting by experts who are conducting MRI scans on the remains.
Alexander Gusev, research fellow at the Centre for the Study of the Arctic, told The Siberian Times: 'We did the MRI scan first and yesterday held the first stage of opening the cocoon. We saw that the body was almost fully mummified, thanks to copper - or bronze - plates, except for the right hand and his legs.'
He said: 'The remains belong to a boy, 6-to-7 years old. We suppose it was a boy because we have found small bronze axe with the body, and some sharp tool, which we can not identify yet.
We saw that the body was almost fully mummified, thanks to copper - or bronze - plates, except for the right hand and his legs.' Pictures: Yamalo-Nenets regional Museum and Exhibition Complex
The body was wrapped in two layers of fur, one layer is reindeer hide, with long and stiff hair. The other layer is softer, we will be able to say more clearly which animal it was after the analysis in Ekaterinburg.'
Along with the remains - the preservation of which was aided by permafrost - scientists found 'a bronze pendant in the form of a bear'. Additionally, there was a 'small bronze axe, and temple rings made of bronze.
The body was covered with copper or bronze plates on the face, chest, abdomen, groin - and bonded with leather cords.' The items found with the body - the axe, pendant and rings - suggests 'this was not some poor boy'. The child warrior was 'not from the lower strata of society'.
It is early in their research and the experts say it 'premature' to know if the boy was from the most elite echelons of a society that appears different to others known in northern Siberia. Yet his method of burial also appears different to previous remains unearthed in this remote spot, where no adult females have been located.
Archeologist Natalia Fyodorova said: 'We have not completed the works with this find yet, so we hope to find new details and a clearer picture soon. For now I can say that in the basis of this burial is some oval wooden structure, resembling the big oval plate. We will know what is this more exactly after finish our work.
The body was covered with copper or bronze plates on the face, chest, abdomen, groin - and bonded with leather cords.' Pictures: Yamalo-Nenets regional Museum and Exhibition Complex
'On this plate lies the body of a boy wrapped in some soft fur....over the fur layer lay the bronze things - axe, pendant, rings and metal plates. Then it was covered in the second layer of fur. Next it was overlain with bast and then all wrapped in the bark.'
Dr Fyodorova, deputy director of the Shemanovsky Science Museum and Exhibition Centre, said: 'If we compare this with previous child burials on this site, we can see some things in common. For example, all the children were wrapped in fur and had no other clothes.
'Still, this burial differs. First of all, other children were buried in a wooden sarcophagus, but here we some some oval wooden construction. The other difference is that here we can see many things buried with this child - axe, pendant, bronze rings. It is not typical.