The remains of a 16th-century boy have been found revealing he was buried with a copper cauldron on his head preparing him for the afterlife.
Archaeologists have been left stumped but the discovery and admitted they have never seen a ritual like it.
The child, which would have been around six or seven, was buried with a earring of copper wire and decorated with a green glass bead.
He was armed with an iron knife and a copper cauldron helmet when he was laid to rest.
Another puzzling factor of the burial is that the handle of the cauldron was tucked into the boy’s belt.
The grave was found near Lake Bolshoy Poluisky Sor in northern Siberia, and has left archeologists scratching their heads.
Alexander Gusev, of the Scientific Centre for Arctic Studies in Salekhard, said: “This is the first time we have seen a cauldron used as a helmet.
“This find shows a change in the burial rite for people living in western Siberia in the 16th century.”
Cauldrons are more commonly found on top of a grave – but never usually on the head of the deceased.
The unusual grave was one of 16 burials in a made-made mound.
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The boy was laid to rest on his back, with his legs stretched towards a nearby river, say archaeologists who have not yet shown the poorly-preserved human remains.
Near his head was an iron scoop and a piece of silver foil, said Gusev.
Further study of the unusual necropolis is planned next year.
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Three years ago archaeologists found in nearby Zeleny Yar burial site the mummy of a woman aged around 35 – with her eyelashes and hair still intact.
This ‘polar princess’ was laid to rest cocooned in copper and fur in the 12th century.
The remarkable preservation was due in part of fragments of a copper kettle laid on her.
A green tinge on her face was a trace of pieces of the kettle that helped preserve her in the grave.
Experts do not believe the mummification was intentional.
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