A 2,000-year-old silk-clad statue of “Sleeping Beauty” emerges from a Siberian reservoir

Archeologists hail extraordinary find of suspected ‘Hun woman’ with a jet gemstone buckle on her beaded belt. After a fall in the water level, the well-preserved mummy was found this week on the shore of a giant reservoir on the Yenisei River upstream of the vast Sayano-Shushenskaya dam, which powers the largest power plant in Russia and ninth biggest hydroelectric plant in the world.

The ancient woman was ʙᴜʀɪᴇᴅ wearing a silk skirt with a funeral meal – and she took a pouch of pine nuts with her to the afterlife. In her birch bark make-up box, she had a Chinese mirror. Near her remains – accidentally ᴍᴜᴍᴍɪғɪᴇᴅ – was a Hun-style vase.

A team of archeologists from St Petersburg’s Institute of History of Material Culture (Russian Academy of Sciences) working on the shoreline in Tyva Republic spotted a rectangle-shaped stone construction which looked like a burial. ‘The mummy was in quite a good condition, with soft tissues, skin, clothing and belongings intact,’ said a scientist.

Natalya Solovieva, the institute’s deputy director, said: ‘On the mummy are what we believe to be silk clothes, a beaded belt with a jet buckle, apparently with a pattern. Archeologist Dr Marina Kilunovskaya said: ‘During excavations, the mummy of a young woman was found on the shore of the reservoir. ‘The lower part of the body was especially well preserved …

‘This is not a classic mummy – in this case, the burial was tightly closed with a stone lid, enabling a process of natural mummification.’ She was ʙᴜʀɪᴇᴅ around 1,900 to 2,000 years ago, scientists believe ahead of exhaustive tests.

Astonishingly, the remains were preserved even though they have been underwater for periods since the dam became operational between 1978-85. Dr Solovieva said: ‘Near the head was found a round wooden box covered with birch-bark in which lay a Chinese mirror in a felt case.’ Near the young woman were two vessels, one a Hun-type vase.

‘There was a funeral meal in the vessels, and on her chest a pouch with pine nuts.’ Restoration experts have started working on the mummy.Analysis of the find is expected to yield a wealth of information on her life and time.Scientists received a grant from the Russian Geographical society to rescue the unique archeological finds in flooded areas.

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