Mummified remains of a woman buried 900 years ago have been found with her eyelashes and hair still intact.
The facial features of the “polar princess” are still clearly visible after she was found close to the Arctic Circle.
Scientists unwrapped the mummy from a cocoon of copper and fur which is thought to have accidentally preserved her.
She was the only woman buried among three dozen men and her eyelashes and teeth are immaculately preserved as a full head of hair.
A green tinge on her face is from the fragments of a copper kettle apparently intended to protect her in the afterlife.
The copper had the unintended consequence of mummifying her, archaeologists believe.
The remains were found among three dozen adult graves in the Zeleny Yar burial site near Salekhard, reported The Siberian Times .
She is believed to be a member of a medieval hunting and fishing civilisation that held sway in the region and had connections to Persia, in the 12th century.
Archaeologist Alexander Gusev, from Russia’s Arctic Research Centre, said: “We clearly see from the face that she was a woman.
“This radically changes our concept about this graveyard.
“Previously we thought that there were only adult men and children, but now we have a woman.
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Archaeologists were puzzled to find the female among the male remains but said it could mean she was an elite member of her society.
However there was no evidence of jewellery in her tomb, apart from several temple rings close to her skull.
While her head is well preserved, the rest of her body was not.
A small baby found in a grave nearby, also thought to be female, is not believed to be related to this middle aged mummy.
Dr Sergey Slepchenko, of the Institute of the Problems of Northern Development, Tyumen, said: “The woman and the baby are from different graves, so we cannot say they are related.”
Scientists from Russia and South Korea will carry out detailed analysis in an attempt to understand more about the lives of early polar settlers.
They also hope to reconstruct the face of the woman.
Dr Slepchenko said: “During the natural conservation of the mummy in the soil, the rotting process was completed.
“The remaining soft tissues were soaked with copper solution from those ritual plates with which the bodies were covered.”
Previous finds at the Zeleniy Yar burial site near Salekhard have included bronze bowls originating in ancient Persia, around 3,700 miles to the south-west.
Another earlier find was a “red haired man” buried with a bronze buckle depicting a brown bear.
Professor Dong-Hoon Shin, from Seoul National University, said: “In the world there are two types of mummies – artificial and natural.
“Excellent examples of mummies of artificial origin are Egyptian.
“The natural mummification of bodies of the buried is usually observed when certain conditions of the environment – permafrost, the presence of copper objects in the burial – and climate.
“They are found in deserts and in the north.
“Arctic mummies, similar to those found in the Zeleny Yar, are very rare. That is why (these finds) are unique.”
He said: “Due to the high level of preservation the mummies’ internal organs are intact, too, which is incredibly interesting for our research.”