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10 January 2012

Museum of the "Altai Princess" will open this year

RIA Novosti. Translated by Heda Jindrak

Museum of the "Altai Princess" will open this yearAnokhin's National Museum, where the mummy of the famous "Altai princess" is kept, will open in 2012 in Gorno-Altaisk after complete reconstruction, as the Minister of Culture of the region, Vladimir Konchev, informed RIA Novosti.


The mummy of  a woman was discovered by the expedition of Novosibirsk archeologist Natalia Polosmak in 1993 in a kurgan of Scythian era on Ukok plateau in Altai, near the border with Mongolia. This find, which has been dated to more than 2,500 years old, is considered to be one of the most significant archeological discoveries of recent times. Native Altaians consider the mummy to be their ancestor and call her "the Altai princess".


The archeologists submitted the mummy for study to laboratories of Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of SO  RAN in Novosibirsk, where she remains to this day. The population and government of the republic insist on her remaining in Altai, but research scientists were against it, emphasizing that the republic did not have the necessary conditions for keeping this unique archeological find.


Reconstruction of the museum in Gorno-Altaisk began in 2009 after the leaders of Altai made a contract with OAO "Gazprom", which is conducting a number of social projects on the territory of this region, about a free allocation of 250 million rubles for this work. This money has been utilized. In 2011-2012 Gazprom will give almost another billion of rubles to finish the project.


"The opening of Anokhin's Museum in 2012, which is now still under reconstruction, is one of  tasks of foremost importance to us. In association with this, we have three epochal tasks before us: to return to Altai the "Ukok Princess" mummy, paintings of Choros-Gurkin, which are kept in museums of other regions,  and the objects of Pazyryk culture from the Hermitage. The museum will begin to be set up for public use in May 2012", said the Minister.


At the same time he explained that the work on complete reconstruction of the museum building should be finished in May, which will practically double the area of the museum, and the equipment and furnishings will be brought and  set up. According to plan, all the work should be finished and the museum opened in September 2012.


"The reconstruction will double the area of the museum - from 8,000 square meters to 16,500.  We will have both the room and the conditions for the mummy of the princess, and for Choros-Gurkin's paintings, and for the specimens of Pazyryk culture, " - Konchev emphasized.


The reconstruction project anticipates the building of a unique mausoleum in the museum, made in the form of a burial kurgan; the visitors will descent inside it to view the sarcophagus with the mummy of "Altai princess".


Director of the museum Vladimir Sakpachakov informed RIA Novosti that the mummy of the princess will not be exhibited at the Anokhin National Museum of Republic Altai, but only a replica will be shown to the visitors of the museum.


"We are of the opinion that actual human remains should not be exhibited to public view. Many believe that Lenin as well should be given to the earth, but I can tell you that we will not bury the mummy - she is still necessary to scientists for some procedures, and they will have access to her in our  safe facility," - he said.


According to the scientists, after the reconstruction is finished, the mummy will be transported to the museum in a helicopter to avoid unnecessary vibrations.


A contract between IAiET SO RAN and the Ministry of Culture of republic Altai, signed in May 2011, specifies that Republic Altai will provide preservation and exhibition of the female mummy as well as of 2,000 archeological specimens from kurgan Ak-Alakha-1, which the institute submitted to the A.V. Anokhin Museum in the early 1990's. the document also states that the institute is prepared to offer methodical help in the work.

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