The Siberian Times has reported the discovery of a set of strange mummies which display all of the hallmarks of an unknown ancient culture. The mummies were discovered near Salekhard in Russia’s far north at the Zeleniy Yar burial site, a medieval archaeological site containing dozens of graves. So far, two of the these strange new mummies have been discovered: an adult of unusually tall stature, and a child estimated to be no older than six months old. Preliminary dating suggests the individuals were buried around 1,300 years ago. While Siberian mummies are nothing new to archaeology, a curious detail about their burial has archaeologists puzzled: the mummies were bound in copper before being placed in their graves, an atypical burial rite for known Siberian civilizations at the time.
Alexander Gusev, head of the expedition, senior researcher of the Centre for the Arctic Studies which is leading the excavation alongside archaeologists from the Seoul National University, told The Siberian Times that the arrangement of the bodies and funerary objects suggest a ceremonial or ritual burial:
The mummified remains were found lying next to each other, buried strictly along a North to South line, with their feet turned to river. The bodies were wrapped into cocoons of birch bark and thick fabric, origins of which we will know after laboratory tests. The adult’s cocoon was covered from head to toe with copper plates. The baby’s cocoon was covered with small fragments of copper cauldron.
It’s still unknown why the remains might have been bound in copper before burial, but like nearly all things archaeological, it was likely “ceremonial in nature.” But who knows? Perhaps it was to prevent them from returning as zombies. Similar anti-undead burial practices have been discovered around the globe.
The mummies have been excavated carefully along with as much of the surrounding soil as possible in order to preserve their condition; they will be taken to laboratories for further analysis and study.
These mummies are adding to a growing body of archaeological evidence which suggests Siberia was once home to unknown culturally rich, technologically advanced civilizations about which we are only now beginning to learn. As long as all those deadly methane bubbles (or the new world war brewing) don’t reduce the whole region to a smoldering mess, we might soon have a whole new mysterious chapter of human history to explore.