A mummified Mongolian princess from the time of Genghis Khan - along with her coffin, robes and many tomb treasures - is making her first public appearance in 800 years, only in the Genghis Khan exhibition.


The woman was discovered by Mongolian archaeologists in a cave in the Western Gobi Desert and brought to the Smithsonian Institution for preparation. The woman, more than 5 and one-half feet in height, was found in a rough-hewn wooden coffin wearing two layers of silk brocade robes and a leather overcoat. She may well have been a wealthy newly-wed as the tomb contains the wooden frame of a tall silk hat like those worn by brides of the 12th to 14th century. The mummy was shipped from Mongolia to the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, where forensic paleontologist Dr. Bruno Frohlich oversaw its preparation for display.

Further indications of the unusual wealth of the aristocrat were pearl earrings and a stone necklace. The hat featured an attachment point for more jewels or feathers.

The layered clothing and the thick felt boots still on her feet suggest the woman was buried in the frigid Mongolian winter. Arid conditions in the sheltered cave preserved the dessicated body and tomb contents in singularly good condition.

Along with the body and jewelry, researchers discovered a copper mirror, a wooden comb and cup, a metal knife with wooden handle and several pieces of cloth. The tomb, while un-ornamented, was covered in leather.

It was the Mongolian custom of the time to bury a royal figure over a “pillow” of their artifacts, even a horse or a slave.

The high quality of the silk brocade and its phoenix and dragon designs reveal the extent of trade with China, and the elegance conquest and commerce could bring to even the most remote Mongolian desert nomads.

After its display in the Genghis Khan exhibition, the mummy will be returned to the Smithsonian for further study to determine the woman’s age and any injuries or diseases that may have caused her death.