Mausoleum for the Scythian princess

A year ago I briefly mentioned the conflict between the archaeologists and the a group of the Altai natives who demanded that the mummy of the so called Ukok princess be returned from the Novosibirsk museum and re-buried. Now, the deputy minister of culture of the Republic of Altai Vladimir Filimonov has announced that by the end of 2008 a mausoleum will be built in the capital of the republic, Gorno-Altaisk, and the mummy will be transferred there from Novosibirsk. The mausoleum will have all the equipment necessary to keep the body in good conditions and available for the scientific research. Filimonov said that the mausoleum will cost 271,000,000 Russian rubles (more than $10,000,000). A sarcastic commenter noted at the web-site of a Novosibirsk newspaper: "271,000,000?! Tutankhamum would die of envy!"

The group of Altai pagans accused the archaeologists of causing earthquakes by not allowing the spirit of the "princess" to rest in peace. In 2004, Russian scientific web-site Inauka.ru published an article refuting the claims of the local population that they are the descendants of the mummy: The Curse Of The Altai Princess. The article ends with the conclusion:

The Altai Princess falls under the law "On objects pertinent to cultural heritage of the peoples of the Russian Federation". The law says that archeological finds shall be regarded as objects of cultural heritage of the federal importance. Article 25 reads: "The objects of cultural heritage that are deemed ... of the highest archeological value may be considered as objects of the world cultural heritage." The mummy is undoubtedly an object of the highest value.

As by Article 61 "Persons who caused damage to an object of cultural heritage shall recover the cost of restoration incurred thereby. The costs duly recovered shall not exempt such persons from being subject to criminal prosecution."

Those who will bury the mummy will end up in jail.

Thank gods and spirits, there are no laws analog to the American NAGPRA in Russia.

The story of the Ukok princess can be found in the very good article A Culture on the Hoof: Kurgan Woman of the Pazyryk by Mary Lynn E. Turner and in brief, but informative The frozen horseman of Siberia by Winnie Allingham.

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