Tattooed mummy of 2500 year old Siberian princess found

Tattoos as complex and abstract as any modern design have been discovered on the body of a Siberian princess buried in the permafrost in Russia for more than 2500 years.

Scientist Natalia Polosmak, who found the remains of ancient Princess Ukok, aged around 25, high in mountains close to Russia's border with Mongolia and China, said she was struck by how little has changed in the past two millennia.

The remarkable body art on the mummy includes mythological creatures and experts say the elaborate drawings were a sign of age and status for the ancient nomadic Pazyryk people, described in the 5th century BC by the Greek historian Herodotus, the Siberian Times reported.

"Compared to all tattoos found by archaeologists around the world, those on the mummies of the Pazyryk people are the most complicated, and the most beautiful," said Polosmak.

"I think we have not moved far from Pazyryks in how the tattoos are made," said Polosmak. "More ancient tattoos have been found, like the Ice Man found in the Alps, but he only had lines, not the perfect and highly artistic images one can see on the bodies of the Pazyryks.

"It is a phenomenal level of tattoo art. Incredible, it is still about a craving to make yourself as beautiful as possible."

"We can say that most likely there was - and is - one place on the body for everyone to start putting the tattoos on, and it was a left shoulder." Polosmak said.

"I can assume so because all the mummies we found with just one tattoo had it on their left shoulders. And nowadays this is the same place where people try to put the tattoos on, thousands of years on," she said.

Buried around her were six horses, saddled and bridled, her spiritual escorts to the next world, and a symbol of her evident status, perhaps more likely a revered folk tale narrator, a healer or a holy woman than an ice princess.

The reconstruction of the tattoos in the images shown were released to coincide with the moving of the remains of the princess, dug out of the ice 19 year ago, to a permanent glass sarcophagus in the National Museum in Gorno-Altaisk, capital of the Altai Republic.

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