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 The authorities declare again about the intention to return the mummy of “the Princess of Ukok” to Altai

Indigenous IssuesMikhail Kozlov, the chairman assistant of the Altai Republic Government, plenipotentiary of the Altai Republic in Moscow, has the intention to do his best to return the mummy of the “Princess of Ukok” found by archeologists at the beginning of 1990-s in Altai.

As REGNUM IA correspondent was informed on 21 March in the press-service of the Altai Republic Government, Kozlov made such a statement to the authors of the application about the return of the mummy. “The return of the “Princess of Ukok” would be the proof of importance of saving the intercultural and interethnic dialogue in Russia for everybody,” Mikhail Kozlov remarked in his speech to the participants of a special concert held on 9 March in Moscow. The concert took place in the Russian Museum of Folk Art. The Altai singer Raisa Modorova, a post-graduate student of Mechanics and Mathematics Faculty of Moscow State University, winner of Yakut republican competitions of folk songs Alena Pinigina, Kirgiz singer Mearim, the singer of traditional folk songs, Buryat Victor Zhalsanov, the Tuva singer Galina Torzhu took part in it. The concert was initiated by active members of the Interregional Public Foundation of Promotion of Study and Maintaining of Culture of Peoples of Europe, Asia and America for the purpose to collect signatures under the application to the vice-premier Mikhail Kozlov, demanding to assist the return of the mummy of a woman found in Gorny Altai. As REGNUM IA has already informed, the mummy of “the Princess of Ukok” was found by an archeological expedition of Novosibirsk scientists headed by Doctor of History Natalya Polos’mak at the beginning of 1990-s. The excavations were made in the Ak-Alakha valley on the Ukok Plateau. Later on the same place an academician Vacheslav Molodin found one more mummy of a man – a warrior. As the scientists state, the mummies were located in Scythian burial dated to 4-5 century B.C. That time Altai was in the period of so called “Pazyryk Culture”. Now the mummies are in the Museum of Archeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Department of Russian Academy of Science in Novosibirsk. The mummies were saved due to the perpetually frozen ground. The scientists insist to continue excavations, as interscience research attests the possibility of climate warming leading to melting of the ice lenses. Nowadays, there is even information in which barrows exactly the ice is saved on the Ukok Plateau. However, Altai indigenous people’s attitude to the fact the scientists found the mummies is extremely negative. Altai intellectuals began asserting the Ukok Plateau was always considered a sacred place for Altai people, they knew about the woman’s burial, as in the unearthed barrow there was “Princess Kadyn”, who had been worshiped by shamans for thousands of years. In Altai there is quite a powerful movement for return of the mummy “home” and ban of further archeological research. Actually, there are two lines among the supporters of the idea. One part suggests to return it to Altai and exhibit in Gorno-Altaisk Museum. The others demand to re-bury “the Princess”. Novosibirsk archeologists have stated repeatedly they are not against to bring the mummy to Gorno-Altaisk. However, some special expensive equipment is needed to save it, which the Altai museum does not have. After the earthquake in September 2003 in Altai with epicenter 100-150 km from the Ukok Plateau, local people began speaking the disaster happened because the burial of “the Princess Kadyn” had been disturbed, and now she revenges people. REGNUM IA reference: The Ukok Plateau is on the south edge of the modern territory of the Altai Republic. It is located on the junction of the state frontiers of Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and Russia. The predominate absolute height on Ukok reaches 2200-2500 m above the sea level, mountain ridges rise 500-600 m in average above the plateau. The maximum absolute point of the mountain crown of the plateau – Nairamdal mountain (Tabyn-Bogdo-Oola) reaches 4374 m above the sea level. This mountain is the second after Belukha by height in Siberia. In total there are more than 300 archeological artefacts of the Pazyryk period of Altai history on the plateau.

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