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1 April 2005
Infrared photography reveals tattoos on mummies

Researchers restoring mummies at the Hermitage Museum in St  Petersburg have been using infrared photography to reveal previously invisible tattoos.
    Three of the mummies were removed from the Pazyryk mounds in the south Siberian Altai Mountains, which date back to the 8th to 5th centuries BCE, while another came from the east Siberian region of  Khakassia.
    The Pazyryk mummies are very dark in colour so the markings weren't spotted earlier, and while the Khakassia mummy is a lighter colour, it was kept until recently in its burial garments which hid the tattoo.
    The researchers found oblique bluish figures on the shoulders of the Khakassia mummy, symbols resembling commas and rosettes on the chest, arms and neck, and a bow and arrow on the inside of the elbow.
    This discovery prompted the researchers to photograph the Pazyryk mummies, and the resulting photographs showed tattooed tigers, leopards, horses, roe deer, birds, and mythological beasts including winged predators and hoofed animals with birdlike heads. All the images were in the Scythian-Siberian style, also known as Pazyryk art, except for one of the Pazyryk mummies which had tattoos in a different style, possibly Chinese reflecting the periodic contact the Pazyryk culture had with ancient China.

Source: Itar-Tass News Agency (28 March 2005)

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