Affectionately known as ‘Princess Ukok’ after the Altai Mountain site of her burial and subsequent rediscovery, the 2,500-year-old ice-preserved corpse of a young woman in her mid-20s has caused a sensation in archaeological circles—as well as within the cannabis community, due to compelling evidence of her medicinal cannabis use. The tomb of the so-called Princess Ukok was discovered in 1993 on the Ukok Plateau, a flat stretch of grassland nestled in the heart of the Altai Republic, which lies in southwestern Siberia near the borders with China and Mongolia. The discovery was made by Russian archaeologists during excavations in the Pazyryk Valley, a low-lying section of the Plateau, along with numerous other tombs (known as ‘kurgans’ in the local dialect) and artefacts of the period. On the basis of these findings, the Pazyryk Culture is the name now given to the Iron Age society that inhabited the region from the 6th – 3rd centuries BCE, of which Princess Ukok was apparently a notable member.
The ‘Princess’ is also commonly referred to as the Siberian Ice Maiden, or as Devochka or Ochi-Bala—the former simply translates to ‘girl’ in Russian, while the latter is the name of a warrior huntress featuring in the Altaic Heroic Epics that constitute a vital part of the oral traditions of the Turkic peoples of northwest Asia.