Wednesday, Feb 28 2024
All Cities
Choose Your City
'The Yenisey began life with a groan and ended with a boldness we could never dream of'

2,000 year old mummified ‘sleeping beauty’ dressed in silk emerges from Siberian reservoir

By 0 and 0 and 0
22 June 2018


The ancient woman was buried wearing a silk skirt with a funeral meal. Picture: Marina Kilunovskaya

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 buried 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 mummified - was a Hun-style vase. 


Lower part of the body

 Lower part of the body

Lower part of the body

‘The lower part of the body was especially well preserved.' Pictures: Marina Kilunovskaya

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.’



‘This is not a classic mummy - in this case, the burial was tightly closed with a stone lid, enabling a process of natural mummification.’ Pictures: Channel 5

She was buried 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. 

Terezin area

Seasonal water retreat

Sayano-Shushensk water reservoir. The shoreline of the reservoir when the water retreats.

‘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 times. 

Scientists received a grant from the Russian Geographical society to rescue the unique archeological finds in flooded areas.   

Comments (10)

Vey very interesting story, the ancient world reveals its secrets !
Anthony, Fortaleza, Brazil
02/07/2019 04:47
John, San Antonio Texas, USA
26/07/2018 08:57
I'm sure she was pretty once, but time has taken its toll. Or maybe this isn't her best side...
Will Wilhite, Atlanta, GA, USA
28/06/2018 23:47
she may be a good find But in my opinion She should have been re- beried And they should leave the body alone its not right she still has the right to be left in peace its not right would anyone like the idea of being dug up and experimented on after death NO THEY WOULD NOT I totally disapprove And her people would also at the time not have approved I look up things like this And I have to say if she has all those things with her and how she is or was dressed Then she was someone of status HIGH UP AND SHOULD NOT BE MESSED AROUND WITH NOW Do the right thing by her and when there finished dissecting her perfectly preserfed body bury her bones in a proper little grave Not in a museum Please have some respect for the dead
jennifer perry, u.k
28/06/2018 17:55
Jack Nixon tries to read the history from rear to front which is typical of Western mind! The so called Western Huns never went back to Central Asia. Saqrmatians were never to do with Asia either. If you want to find a true Sarmatioan who had been a protoTurkic Stock go and look to the face of a German!
osman, Turkey
28/06/2018 00:23
The Huns only entered this part of Central Asia in the 4th C AD. If this burial is 2,000 years old the women could not be a Hun. It is more likely to be a Sarmatian woman of high status.
Jackie Nixon M.A., U.K.
27/06/2018 05:29
Wow! Very good reporting. Nice pictures. Thanks to your website I am gradually learning more about this beautiful land.
Sau, United Kingdom
26/06/2018 18:45
Amazing find with great preservation. I look forward to reading more. Thanks ✌
Anna Warren, Mississippi, USA
26/06/2018 07:57
Why is she buried on her side?
Michael , USA
24/06/2018 18:01
excellent story and photos. just never reveal an exact location. so grave robbers will not come and dig up and destroy artifacts that can not measured in monetary value.
Benedikt MORAK, Moscow
23/06/2018 05:04

Add your comment

We welcome a healthy debate, but do not accept offensive or abusive comments. Please also read 'Siberian Times' Privacy Policy



Add your comments

The views expressed in the comments above are those of our readers. 'Siberian Times' reserves the right to pre-moderate some comments.

Control code*

Type the code

* obligatory



The Bank of Russia official exchange rates of foreign currencies