Over two decades ago, Russian archeologists discovered the tomb of a mummy referred to as the Siberian “Ukok Princess” buried deep beneath the frozen lands of the Altai Mountains. This discovery was highly publicized at the time due the woman’s 2,500-year-old body being so well preserved that her tattoos were still plainly visible. And while scientists revealed many interesting aspects about her final resting place, perhaps the most fascinating was the fact that in addition to a number of artifacts found in the grave was a surplus of marijuana.
Although the reason behind the woman being buried with cannabis was not immediately understood, an MRI scan of her mummified remains led scientists, Andrey Letyagin and Andrey Savelov, with the Russian Academy of Medical Science in Novosibirsk to find that the ice princess died at a very early age from breast cancer, and interestingly, they believe she used marijuana to ease her pain.
Scientists previously thought that her injuries, including dislocated joints and a fractured skull, which are consistent with falling off a horse, were ultimately what caused her untimely demise. After all, in addition to cannabis, her tomb also contained six saddled and bridled horses, indicating that she was either extremely fond of equestrianism, or that she was a degenerate gambler her tribe believed would play the ponies, even in death. And yes, that was a joke.
Dr. Letyagin concluded: “I am quite sure of the diagnosis – she had cancer. She was extremely emaciated. Given her rather high rank in society and the information scientists obtained studying mummies of elite Pazyryks, I do not have any other explanation of her state. Only cancer could have such an impact,” he told The Siberian Times.
Natalia Polosmak, the archeologist who first discovered the tomb, said much as it was first described by Greek historian Herodotus, many societies believed in the benefits of mind-altering substances. “In ancient cultures, from which there is a written testimony, such analgesics were used,” she said. “Wine, hashish, opium, henbane, an extract of mandrake, aconite and Indian hemp. The Pazyryks knew hemp and its features.”
Contrary to the name ice princess, researchers actually believe the woman was a shaman that used cannabis to achieve a type of spiritual awakening that led her kinsmen to believe she possessed necromantic powers.
“Probably for this sick woman, sniffing cannabis was a forced necessity. And she was often in altered state of mind,” said Polosmak. “We can suggest that through her could speak the ancestral spirits and gods. Her ecstatic visions in all likelihood allowed her to be considered as some chosen being, necessary and crucial for the benefit of society. She can be seen as the darling of spirits and cherished until her last breath.”
Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in High Times, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.