A judge in Russia's southeastern Altay republic has ruled that the mummy of a 2,500 year-old “Altay princess," which is currently being exhibited at a museum, should not be reburied as requested by local council elders, who believe she is cursed.
The mummy was discovered 23 years ago in the Altay republic close to Russia's borders with Kazakhstan, China, and Mongolia. It has been dubbed one of the most important archeological finds of the past century.
Her grave was found in a huge block of ice and her body was surrounded by six horses. Archeologists established that she was a blond woman who had been 25 years old when she died.
Local shamans have said they believe she was Ochi-Balam – the ancestress of the Altay people. She is also called the Princess of Ukok and the Altay Princess by the locals, while in English-language sources she has been dubbed the Siberian Ice Maiden.
The body of the woman is surprisingly well preserved, even to the extent that tattoos are visible on her skin.
Locals say that natural disasters have become more frequent in the area since she was removed from her tomb, whose gate they believe shut out the underworld. They say that the absence of their guardian may have been the cause of an earthquake in 2003, record floods in 2014, and other disasters.
“These relics should be reburied as they have physical influence on the indigenous community. Otherwise the whole community is in danger of extinction," said an official advocating the wishes of a group of local residents, who share these beliefs.
A council of elders voted to bury the mummy in August. However, the staff of the museum in which she is preserved has argued that her burial would be a great loss for science.
A statement of claim against the museum requesting that it be ordered to rebury the mummy was filed in a court in December of 2015. However, local judge Anton Zavgorodniy ruled against the local people's request last Wednesday. The court has not yet explained its decision.
The ancient princess is currently being kept at the A.V. Anokhin National Museum in Gorno-Altaysk in a mausoleum-like complex that cost about 765 million rubles (nearly $10 million) to build, according to local authorities.