Is This 1,500 Year Old Mummy Proof of Time Travel?

No, sadly not. Although the mummy appears to be wearing adidas® sneakers, much to the dismay of every Whovian in the world, it’s not. In fact, despite the strong resemblance, the shoes are perfectly preserved examples of the known footwear from this region and time period.

Turkic mummy adidas
Image from the Khovd Museum

Perhaps more interesting and slightly less sensational than the idea of time travel is the stunning archaeological evidence this discovery has unearthed. At first thought to be someone of considerable importance, further examination actually shows that she was just a Regular Joe (or Jane).

Found 10,000 feet above sea level in the icy Altai Mountains of Mongolia by local herdsmen, this 1,500-year-old grave was filled with a variety of grave goods. The sheer volume and the quality of the craftsmanship are what initially led archaeologists to surmise that this Turkic female would’ve had a high station. However, closer examination actually shows a very different picture.

Thanks to the frigid temperatures, high altitude, and a grave that was 3 meters deep, this find is the most complete Turkic burial found in Central Asia and provides a fascinating insight into Mongolian life during the 6th century AD. And this is what has caused the real excitement. While we’re not dismissing the idea of time travel, this mummy is not proof. Instead, archaeologists and historians are all a-buzz with the new evidence this grave provides.

The mummy is thought to be female because there’s no bow or other weaponry among her grave goods, but we won’t have a definitive answer until they finish unwrapping her. What we do know is that she was a member of the masses, not a noble. Among her grave goods are the complete remains of (presumably) her horse, along with a remarkably well-preserved saddle and bridle, complete with stirrups and straps, and showing a high level of crafting and metal and leatherworking skill. Aside from her horse and its gear, archaeologists have also uncovered a decorative clay vase, a wooden bowl, a trough or trencher, and an iron kettle.

Turkic grave goods
Image from the Khovd Museum

All of the goods, though practical necessities, show an exceptionally advanced degree of craft skill. Among the finds are pillows, a hat, a felted travel bag, strong, braided ropes, and clothing with intricate decorative detailing. But what’s fascinating scientists is that the textiles don’t just use sheep or goat wool, but they also incorporate camel hair, for a dense, warm, and eminently practical blended textile. There’s also cotton clothing, a leather bag, cups, and a whole bunch of other fascinating stuff.

1500 year old mummy grave goods
Image from the Khovd Museum

So, unfortunately, there’s still no definitive proof of time travel. However, despite claims the whole thing is an elaborate click bait hoax, it’s really not. Yes, the real point of the discovery has been somewhat glossed over by a lot of the sensationalist sites and newspapers in favor of the “adidas sneakers”, but this Turkic woman and her grave goods are important and incredibly fascinating finds.

And yes, archaeology is a science. It’s science fiction in reverse. It’s the truth behind the fantasy genre. It gives us a unique and, until time travel is an everyday experience, unbeatable glimpse into the past, into the lives of our ancestors, and into how humanity has developed. Isn’t it amazing, for example, that we’re still performing the same rituals as our Neanderthal predecessors? They, like many of us still do, placed flowers on the graves of their departed loved ones. And for this 1,500-year-old mummy – take a look at her saddle and bridle, they’re exquisite and instantly recognizable. In 1,500 years, the design really hasn’t changed that much.

Turkic saddle
Image from the Khovd Museum

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