Ice Princess mummy
Ukok Plateau is a remote and
pristine grasslands area located in the
heart of southwestern Siberia, the
Mountains region of
Russia near the borders with China, Kazakhstan and Mongolia.
Pazyryk is the name of an ancient people who
lived in the Altai
Mountains on this
plateau who are associated with some spectacular archeological
findings, including mummies found frozen in the permafrost.
Horseman, Pazyryk felt artifact, c.300
Many ancient Bronze Age
tomb mounds have been found in the
area and have been associated with the Pazyryk culture
which closely resembled that
of the legendary Scythian
people to the
west. The term kurgan
is in general
usage to describe such log-barrow burials. Excavations of this site
have continued to yield fascinating archaeological findings. One
famous finding is known as the "Ice Princess" excavated by Russian
archaeologist, Natalia Polosmak
Three tattooed mummies (c. 300 BC) were extracted from the permafrost
of the Ukok Plateau in the second half
of the 20th century.
recognized as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site entitled Golden Mountains
of Altai as an important environmental treasure.
provides a habitat for many of the world's endangered species
including one of its least studied predatory animals: the snow leopard
. Other endangered species
protected there include the Argali mountain
, the steppe eagle
, and the
. Currently the Ukok Plateau
is being threatened by plans for a gas pipeline between China and Russia
is also being threatened by a proposal to build a road through it
as well as overuse of the steppe
The Ice Maiden and other archaeological finds were located just
within a disputed strip of land between Russia and China.
residents of the Altai Republic are
demanding the return of the burial artifacts from their current
location in Novosibirsk.
- S.I. Rudenko, Kul'tura naseleniia Gornogo Altaia v skifskoe
vremia ("The Population of the High Altai in Scythian
Times")(Moscow and Leningrad, 1953) translated as Frozen Tombs
of Siberia: The Pazyryk Burials of Iron Age Horsemen, M.W.
Thompson, tr. (University of California Press, Berkeley) 1970. ISBN