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Ice Mummies—Siberian Ice Maiden

Program Overview


Map of world with Altay Mountains, Russia indicated NOVA follows archeologist Natalya Polosmok as she journeys to the Altay Mountains in southern Siberia to search for traces of an ancient people known as the Pazyryk.


  • Polosmok and her team discover and unearth a wooden tomb surrounded by the frozen remains of six horses, uncovering a 2,400-year-old woman dubbed the Siberian Ice Maiden.

  • The Ice Maiden is buried alone, lying as if asleep, in a wood coffin with a headdress and a mirror. An afterlife meal, a yak horn vessel and a wooden table are also found outside the coffin. Archeologists record the Ice Maiden's height, and discover a hole in her skull and peat packed in her body.

  • They use radiocarbon dating, tree-ring chronology and biological testing to determine the age of the remains and time of death.

  • The body is excavated and taken to Moscow for preservation and facial reconstruction. Another mummy, and other skeletons, are discovered elsewhere.

  • The program concludes by raising the question of who has rights to the ancient graves.

Teacher's Guide
Ice Mummies—Siberian Ice Maiden
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