This Ancient Mummy Is Not A Time Traveler Wearing Adidas, But She’s Still Fascinating

The internet wants time travel to be real so badly that they’ve turned an otherwise fascinating archaeological discovery into a debate over whether a 1,500-year-old woman was from the future and had a penchant for sneakers.

Some people online are espousing the theory that the mummy, discovered in Mongolia, is wearing Adidas. She isn’t, of course, and discussion of her supposedly futuristic footwear has taken a bit of the luster out of an otherwise interesting find.

Adidas-theories aside, the mummy will help researchers better understand the native Turkic culture in ancient Mongolia.

The Siberian Times reported this week that herdsmen in the Central Asian Altai Mountains alerted archaeologists at the city museum in Khovd, Mongolia, of a mummy in their midst. It’s not clear how they stumbled upon the archaeological gem.

The mummy was discovered 9,186 feet above sea level in a grave nearly 10 feet deep. A researcher at the museum, B. Sukhbaatar, said the grave’s lofty location and the cool temperatures in the area helped to preserve her. According to RT, she’d been preserved in ice.

Right now, archaeologists only suspect that the mummy is female and have turned to circumstantial evidence to theorize about her gender. She will soon be (carefully) unwrapped and more of her story revealed. But so far, the few details she has provided are fascinating.

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According to ScienceAlert, the Turkic people were from a collection of ethnic groups that lived in Central Asia and Siberia in the 6th century B.C. Sukhbaatar explained the significance of the find — and it has nothing to do with Adidas or time travel.

“It is the first complete Turkik burial at least in Mongolia — and probably in all Central Asia … These finds show us the beliefs and rituals of Turkiks.”

Her burial seems to follow what is known about how Turkic nomads honored their dead: a pit was dug, as “large as a house,” and the deceased was lowered in. He was buried with various personal items, like his belt bow, and money. Then his horses were sacrificed; the more horses found in his grave, the wealthier he likely was.

Given that information, researchers believe that the mummy wasn’t a member of the elite class, given the belongings she was buried with, and is likely a woman because she wasn’t buried with a bow.

She was found with a saddle, bridle, clay vase, wooden bowl, trough, iron kettle, four different sets of Mongolian clothes (called “Dool”), pillows, a sheep’s head, cotton coats, a felt travel bag (containing the whole back of a sheep), goat bones, and a small leather bag for a cup. She was also found with a sacrificed horse.

“We can see clearly that the horse was deliberately sacrificed. It was a mare, between four and eight years old,” researchers said.

Given her burial goods and the kind of hat she wore, they believe she lived during the 6th century. Because she was buried with one horse, she wasn’t rich, but her variety of possessions illustrates that she still did well for herself. Moreover, her clothing and her Adidas-style shoes illustrate a significant amount of a skill among a people believed to live rather simple lives, according to Sukhbaatar.

“The finds show us that these people were very skilled craftsmen. Given that this was the grave of a simple person, we understand that craft skills were rather well developed.”

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But rather than give a 1,500-year-old culture credit for being able to make a very nice set of clothes, the internet has chosen to credit the mummy’s sneakers to Adidas’ skills.

Archaeologists released pictures of the mummy, including her feet, and as the New York Daily News described, they were wrapped in such a way that over the ensuing 1,500 years, her Turkic shoes began to resemble modern Adidas. The evidence? Three lines that kind of resemble the brand’s logo.

The Adidas theory was dismissed out of hand by plenty of skeptics online, with one user complaining, “Wow, this is an amazing and rather significant find and all people care about is how her shoes look like adidas?”

Perhaps all it proves is that Adidas didn’t create a terribly original design — the Turkic came up with it first.

[Photo by Galyna Andrushko/Shutterstock]