August 26, 2006 10:58 AM   Subscribe

Scientists in Mongolia have found the mummy of a Scythian warrior. This article about the find contains an excellent photo gallery of what exactly they dug up. Other things people have dug up in the past include the famous Mr. Ötzi (only twice as old as the others) and Ms. Altai Princess, who has lately been causing some trouble.
posted by thirteenkiller (13 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Scythians were a diverse nomadic Iranian people who whose territory varied over time but included vast stretches of the Eurasian steppe. Wikipedia has an excellent article, and there are cool pages about Scythian art over the intr0web, including one by the Hermitage, this site here with lots of pictures, and this site which has a basic discussion of themes.
posted by thirteenkiller at 11:07 AM on August 26, 2006

Awesome! This is very "cool". So what's his new catchy name? We have "Ice Man" for Otzi. "Ice Man II: Mongolia Man".
posted by stbalbach at 11:16 AM on August 26, 2006

How about "Thilus the Thythian Thordsman", "Silus The Scythian Swordsman"?
posted by briank at 12:16 PM on August 26, 2006

Great photos.
With this caption, "The mummy -- remains of a warrior -- is almost 2,500 years old. He is wearing fur and intricate jewelry,” I almost expected to see Elizabeth Taylor.
posted by yeti at 12:35 PM on August 26, 2006

Histories of Herodotus, Book 4:
Now the Scythians blind all their slaves, to use them in preparing their milk. The plan they follow is to thrust tubes made of bone, not unlike our musical pipes, up the vulva of the mare, and then to blow into the tubes with their mouths, some milking while the others blow. They say that they do this because when the veins of the animal are full of air, the udder is forced down. The milk thus obtained is poured into deep wooden casks, about which the blind slaves are placed, and then the milk is stirred round. That which rises to the top is drawn off, and considered the best part; the under portion is of less account. Such is the reason why the Scythians blind all those whom they take in war; it arises from their not being tillers of the ground, but a pastoral race.
posted by pracowity at 12:56 PM on August 26, 2006

Terrific post; made my wooden kitchen table like a trap door opening into those bitter, bleak and desolate mountains so far away -- and then 2500 years ago. The burial mound was full of logs, but it looks as if you'd be lucky to find a tree within 50 miles, today.
posted by jamjam at 1:26 PM on August 26, 2006

Everyone knows that "Scythia" is a hoax made up by the editors of the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica.
posted by orthogonality at 1:29 PM on August 26, 2006

Marvelous post, thirteenkiller - thanks! Here is an article with pictures of the Atlai Princess excavation - they are rather small, but you can see some of her tattoos.
posted by madamjujujive at 1:52 PM on August 26, 2006

Didn't they find a baggie of weed marijuana buried with the Atlai princess mummy?
posted by porpoise at 3:48 PM on August 26, 2006

Pracowity, I've been trying to decide if there is anything to the remarkably grotesque passage from Herodotus you've left with us, and I think there could be.

If the Scythians were reaching past the vulva and inserting those tubes into the cervix, they could've been inflating the uterus itself, which would've been likely to go into contractions in order to expel the air, and uterine contractions, as is widely known for humans and other mammals, are one of the strongest possible stimulants to cause milk to be let down.
posted by jamjam at 6:41 PM on August 26, 2006

I call bullshit on the notion that the Scythians blinded all their slaves. What migratory pastoral tribe is going to be able to cart around and feed a large number of blind persons, which persons can neither hunt nor gather? It is certainly possible that one or more slaves who happened to be blind might have been able to participate in the extraction of mare's milk. It makes no sense at all to think that valuable slaves--essential workers for the migratory tribe--would, as a matter of "company policy," be rendered less capable of hard labor and travel--except as a gruesome punishment for misconduct.

And as for whistling up a horse's fundament in order to inflate its milk supply.. . . I imagine this duty was not exactly coveted. Maintaining one's warrior dignity that close to the south end of a north-facing horse was probably not easy, even for your average Scythian.
posted by rdone at 7:17 PM on August 26, 2006

Mongol Power!
posted by k8t at 9:42 PM on August 26, 2006

That aside - how can you not like hemp smoking, blood drinking, horse riding, guerilla fighting mare-milkers?
posted by Smedleyman at 11:47 PM on August 26, 2006

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