The mummies that have been found in the Kumanovo village of Lipkovo and that are at least 24 centuries old are in a sufficiently good condition for preservation, age estimation, and preservation of the organic substances that have been naturally kept in the earth over the centuries, explains archaeologist Zvonimir Nikolovski, advising inspector at the Cultural Heritage Protection Bureau. He was in the team that was asked to inspect the mummies’ condition and to document and photograph the findings last July. This never took place, however, because the landowners did not allow it. The team is said to be planning another visit to the site near the Kisela Voda area on the road leading to Lipkovo.
According to Nikolovski, if the two corpses are properly exhumed, their age can be established accurately. The C14 method of examining the organic substance can reveal the year in which the deceased were buried, plus or minus two to three years.
The landowners will suffer no damage whatsoever, Nikolovski says.
According to him, it is crucial that the corpses were found “in situ,” an archaeological term signifying that something has been discovered in the earth in the same position in which it was laid years before.
The corpses were not mummified, but rather, naturally preserved in the clay soil. They had been laid in coffins made of carved oak trunks. They were placed in the earth's profile, at a height of about 1 meter. One can see their shoes and coarse woollen pants, which could give us much information about life back then, Nikolovski says.
He believes that the team that would possibly work on the excavations should also include anthropologists and experts from the Natural Science Museum and the Medical School.
In the capacity of an archaeologist at the Kumanovo Museum eight years ago, Nikolovski wanted to excavate the site where the first mummies were later found. He was allowed to do that, but on a more remote site, where he found pieces of ceramics dating from the Hellenistic era, approximately in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC, which is the same period that he believes the mummies date from.
The first mummified bodies in the Lipkovo region were discovered during the construction of an access road to the Lake Lipkovo dam in 1957. Archaeologists Ivan Mikulcic and Sarzo Sarzovski led the team that explored the Lipkovo site in 1963. They discovered a mummy, which was later transferred to the Skopje Forensic Medicine Department, where it still is. Judging by the ceramics found in the tomb, Mikulcic dates them in the Early Ancient Age, in the 5th and 4th centuries BC.
Author: Vesna Ivanovska