Russian archaeologists have resumed excavations in a remote site near the Arctic Circle in the attempt to understand a perplexing find of medieval mummies clad in copper masks.
Roughly 1,000 years old, the mummies were found during a series of excavations that started in 1997 in a Siberian necropolis near the village of Zeleniy Yar, at the base of a peninsula local people called “the end of the Earth.”
The archaeologists found 34 shallow graves with seven male adults, three male infants, and one female child wearing a copper mask. Buried with a hoard of artifacts, most of the bodies had shattered or missing skulls, and smashed skeletons.
Five mummies were unearthed still shrouded in copper and blankets of reindeer, beaver, wolverine or bear fur, while three copper masked infant male mummies were found bound in four or five copper hoops two inches wide.
The best preserved mummy was a red-haired man found in a wooden sarcophagus. He was covered chest to foot in copper plate and was laid to rest with an iron hatchet, furs and a bronze head buckle depicting a bear.
“Nowhere in the world are there so many mummified remains found outside the permafrost or the marshes,” Natalia Fyodorova, of the Ural branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told theSiberian Times.