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Siberian Ice Maiden

Despite the decay of her facial skin, the Siberian Ice Maiden was so well preserved by the ice in which she was encased that archaeological work has been able to reveal information about her appearance. She was five feet six inches (one metre seventy centimetres) tall - quite tall for her time. Her hair was still blonde and she had pale skin which bore elaborate blue tattoos. These tattoos, on her left arm and shoulder and right thumb, featured animals such as deer, a donkey, mountain ram, a sort of mythical creature as well as flowers. Archaeologist Natalia Polosmak believes that they must have been created when the Ice Maiden was at a young age. They were made using soot as a dye and bone needles as an instrument, evident in the depth of the colouring.

The Ice Maiden’s clothing was also preserved by the extreme cold. She wore a metre tall headdress, adorned with fifteen gilded wooden birds and a griffin, which took up about one-third of the coffin. The size of this artefact in particular may signify her status in society, suggesting that she was a member of the upper class and well respected. She wore a necklace of wooden camels, thigh length felt riding boots and a dress woven from sheep’s wool and camel hair, with a braided, tasselled cord about the waist. Red dye in her clothing probably came from insects. She had a silk blouse that was edged with maroon piping. It was generally believed that the silk used by the Pazyryks came from China, which was produced by domesticated silk worms, however scientific research conducted in Switzerland suggests that this silk was produced by wild silkworms, therefore this particular material came from elsewhere, perhaps India.

Science has played a significant role in determining the appearance of the Ice Maiden. Scientific facial reconstructions, such as the one carried out by Tanya Balueva suggests that she was of europoid origins. She does not display any typical mongoloid features, despite the region in which her body was recovered.

Facial reconstruction of the Icemaiden by Dr. Kozeltsiv. Image source:

Tanya Balueva's facial reconstruction of the Icemaiden. Image source:

Other Pazyryk bodies

Through archaeology we have also been able to determine the appearance of the Pazyryk man found in 1995. His hair was braided into two plaits, he wore a woollen cap, leather boots and a skin jacket of marmot and sheep. His clothing reveals information about the climate he lived in and how well equipped he was to deal with it. He carried an axe, bow and arrows and knife. He also had tattoos inked on his body.

"The Ice Warrior"/"The Siberian Horseman", discovered in 1995 . Image source:

Blue-coloured tattoos were a common element in the appearance of the various Pazyryk mummies that were found throughout the twentieth century. "Conan" was adorned with pictures of griffin-like creatures, deer and mountain goats. The tattoos on the mummies discovered by Rudenko were discovered in 2003/2004 in examinations carried out in the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, using infrared photography technology (the dried skin was too dark to see these otherwise). The bodies of a man and two women bore images of animals such as tigers, leopards, horses, wild mountain sheep, deer, birds and imaginary creatures.

The tattoo on the man found in Barrow 5. Image source:

Although the Icemaiden displays typically europoid features, the same cannot be said for the entire Pazyryk tribe. DNA analyses of the other Pazyryk mummies suggest that this was an ethnically diverse tribe, with individuals varying from displaying European features to Mongolian ones.