Lonely Planet Writer

Mongolia mummy reveals ancient fashion and sparks time travel debate

The slow reveal of a mummified ancient woman in Mongolia has excited both archaeologists and the internet, but for very different reasons.

The 'Adidas' boots that sparked the internet's interest in time travel
The ‘Adidas’ boots that sparked the internet’s interest in time travel Image by Khovd Museum

The discovery of the preserved body was made in the Altai Mountains by local herdsmen and is believed to date from the 6th century AD. The process of unearthing the body in its entirety is very delicate, but so far the archaeologists have revealed one very modern-looking pair of boots, complete with what appears, at first glance, to be the three stripes of the Adidas logo.

This resemblance prompted some online observers to confidently pronounce time travel as a very real thing. At the very least, surely it’s proof they just don’t make them like that anymore? The excellent preservation is helped by the body’s location more than 2800 metres above sea level.

While scientists aren’t convinced about the internet’s time travel theory, the discovery is particularly exciting because it’s potentially the first complete Turkic burial discovered. The site holds not only the body but also an array of items including a horse, saddle, vases and pillows. The result is a unique insight into life in Mongolia 1500 years ago and a peek at the skilled craftmanship and intricate beliefs. The researchers also believe the horse buried with the woman was sacrificed.

The find gives an insight into the Turkic people, a broad collection of ethnic groups parts of Asia and Eastern Europe and are believed by some to be the ancestors of Attila and the Huns he ruled. A researcher from Khovd Museum said this “is the first complete Turkic burial at least in Mongolia – and probably in all Central Asia. This is a very rare phenomenon. These finds show us the beliefs and rituals of Turkics.”

Further insights and surprises are expected as scientists gently excavate and unwrap the remainder of the burial site. One thing is for sure, time-travellers or not, the ancient Turkic people seemed to have excellent taste in footwear.

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