Why were copper-masked mummies buried in shallow graves in the wastes of Siberia, just shy of the Arctic Circle? Why were they laid to rest alongside 11th-century bronze bowls from Persia, about 3,700 miles (6,000 kilometers) to the southwest? And why were their skulls smashed in?
Russian archaeologists are trying to discover the origins of a group of 800-year-old bodies found just 29 km from the Arctic Circle, which were accidentally mummified by copper when they were buried. The mummies were discovered at Zeleniy Yar in Siberia, in 34 shallow graves, and 11 of the bodies found in the medieval burial place had either smashed skeletons or missing and shattered skulls. They may have been damaged by their peers deliberately to prevent spells emanating from them. There is only one female, a child, who is buried with her face masked by copper plates, and three male infant mummies, who wear copper masks and were bound in four or five copper hoops that each measure several centimetres wide.
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