1,500-year-old mummified baby unearthed in Altai

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Archaeologists in the southern Siberian republic of Altai announced Tuesday the discovery of a mummified young child believed to have lived more than 1,500 years ago.

1,500-year-old mummified baby unearthed in Altai
The partially mummified remains of a young baby, possibly a newborn, 
were discovered inside an airtight stone coffin 
[Credit: Gorno-Altaisk State University]

The infant’s remains were unearthed during excavations in Altai’s Kosh-Agachsky district abutting Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan, according to a statement on the website of Gorno-Altaisk State University, that financed the expedition to the site endangered by erosion.

1,500-year-old mummified baby unearthed in Altai
The grave was found on the edge of a river close to the village of Kurai
 in the Kosh-Agach district of the Altai Republic in southern Siberia 
[Credit: Gorno-Altaisk State University]

“There was no earth in a tightly shut box that was the tomb of the baby, and the body had been isolated in this air chamber for more than 1,500 years,” the statement said.

1,500-year-old mummified baby unearthed in Altai
Archaeologists found the child in a grave beside two other 
mounds, which may have been the baby’s parents 
[Credit: Gorno-Altaisk State University]

The ethnic or cultural group to which the child belonged is not immediately clear nor are the circumstances of the child’s death.

1,500-year-old mummified baby unearthed in Altai
The child is believed to be from the mysterious Bulan-Kobinskaya culture, 
linked to the ancient Hun warriors, forbears of Attila the Hun 
[Credit: Gorno-Altaisk State University]

Scientists stressed that the mummification was not deliberate and that genetic testing would be conducted that could shed light on migration patterns in Siberia and Central Asia.

1,500-year-old mummified baby unearthed in Altai
The body of an adult male, thought to have been the child’s father,
 was discovered in a mound close to the mummified baby 
[Credit: Gorno-Altaisk State University]

“Dried soft body tissue and a leather shroud in which the child was wrapped have been partially preserved,” the university said.

Altai’s climate is particularly conducive to the preservation of human remains and a number of significant finds have been made in the region, including the 1993 discovery of a 2,500-year-old Scythian woman’s mummified corpse, dubbed The Ice Princess.

Source: The Moscow Times [August 25, 2015]

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