A specialist in the anatomy tattooed like a mummy siberian

Photo: V. Terebenin© The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Fl, 2017
This gold plate in the shape of a stag, dating from the second half of the Seventh century before our era, is currently on display in the British Museum.

Nothing surprises with the tattoo. This graphic art is assimilated there not so long ago the expression of a rebellion or at the very least, a ” marginality is today the subject of standardization in society at the point of serve as an anchor for television series. It is estimated that nearly one person in six is now tattooed in North America. Dave Mazierski, a specialist in the anatomy of the camel, an associate professor in the Department of biology of the University of Toronto, has reproduced on his body the tattoos preserved on the tattered skin of a mummy of siberian frozen for more than 2000 years.

Photo: Dave Mazierski

These skin fragments, the last remnants of the human experience that we know very little, are at this time in the heart of a major exhibition by the British Museum to the history of the Scythians. The museum of london, the benefits for this exhibition, entitled Scythians : warriors of ancient Siberia, of loans from the Hermitage museum, in Russia. The exhibition ends at the end of January.


Contacted by The Duty in Toronto, professor Mazierski regrets not being able to go to London to revisit some of the details of the tattoos of the mummy to which his body gives life. However, it has had the opportunity to see them up close, in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, portions of this glacier mummy discovered in the 1930s. His body was gradually revealed, after a labour of ten years. “Svetlana Pankova, the curator of anthropology at the state Hermitage museum, helped me a lot. They have reviewed each of the mummies or fragments in the possession of the museum under infrared light in order to reveal the presence of tattoos.


“You could say that I’m the animated version of this frozen body,” explains Dave Mazierski. At a time when the mummy was discovered, in 1929, it is not mastered’t have the technology to preserve it as it was. “All the more that the burial from which it came had already been looted, probably by researchers of jewels and gold. We therefore had to cut the skin became leather, to save the water, which had hitherto preserved thanks to the cold. “Ten horses, stallions alezans, were kept intact in this tomb. They were shown at the universal Exhibition of Paris in 1937.


It has been found from other mummies scythian frozen. These bodies were buried under mounds, huge mounds of earth that appear in chain of the plain and some of which may have up to 300 meters in diameter. The global warming is now threatening the preservation of the tombs of these tumuli, ” says Dave Mazierski. “What was frozen for thousands of years, may suddenly rot before you have time to find it. “


All of the nomadic peoples that formed the Scythians we is little known outside of these archaeological discoveries, if not thanks to the writings the greeks and romans. In the long strip of land that unites geographically Asia and Europe, Scythians represent one of the summits of the culture of this vast territory, as shown in the exhibition at the British Museum.


Originating in central Asia, these indo-european peoples lived a nomadic life, at least from 600 before Christ. They roamed a large area that extends from the Ukraine and Siberia as we know it today, through Russia and Kazakhstan. Their animal art, their jewelry, the splendor of the gold that they worked carefully, their ornaments of all kinds, including many scenes of fighting animals, have been rediscovered over the last few centuries and are now part of the treasures of humanity.


New mummies scythians were discovered in the 1990s, including that of the princess of Utok, one of the archaeological discoveries are the most interesting of the late Twentieth century. This princess known as ice lay in a tomb covered with representations of deer, which were to be found including the remains of three horses.




“Almost all mummies preserved by the state Hermitage museum in Russia show that, when observed under the light of ultraviolet rays, tattoos. We do not know what they could mean for these people, ” says the professor, Mazierski. The specialists do not agree on the place of the tattoo in these companies.


Interest visceral


That means that interest visceral to the skin of missing men for thousands of years at a professor used to examine the anatomic dimensions of internal systems of humans and animals ? “After studying art, I studied science to become a specialist in representations of medicine, for animals as for humans. This is what I came for example to take care of the anatomy of the camel, in Israel. This is the anatomical design, by computer or by hand, as I teach now at the University of Toronto. “We imagine almost Dave Mazierski sitting on a bench next to Rembrandt, while held to observe the anatomy Lesson of professor Tulp, one of the most famous stage works of the master. “There is nothing better even than the dissection in order to understand how the tissues of the body are structured. “One of his drawing classes medical, therefore, takes place in front of the corpses.


But understand in detail the physical structure today does help to design what were the living yesterday ? The living body of Dave Mazierski is it, so to say, become a dissection living which opens on to the past ?


“I can say that I have always wanted a little me to stand. I’ve never thought about these issues, but in terms of the interest that I feel for the beauty of these tattoos old. Also, I’m not the only one to have it reproduced on my body. I learned that an anthropologist in Denmark had done the same thing as me. “But that can mean recreating today in the flesh, even the traces left behind thousands of years ago on a man of which we know nothing about ? “You could say I’m sort of a replica of the thawed of the Scythian frozen. This gets me going. “