Archaeologists Find Grave of 'Sleeping Beauty'

During a 6-week excavation of the ancient city of Aksum in Ethiopia
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2015 8:15 AM CDT
Updated Jun 13, 2015 7:56 AM CDT
Archaeologists Find Grave of 'Sleeping Beauty'
A view near Axum, Ethiopia.   (Wikimedia Commons / A. Davey)

During a six-week excavation in northern Ethiopia, English archaeologists uncovered 11 graves that contained "extraordinary" items. But the inhabitant of one of the graves is herself particularly enthralling: a so-called "Sleeping Beauty," as Louise Schofield, who led the team, has dubbed her. The woman's positioning and the artifacts found by her side—including kohl eyeliner and flask that was to hold the tears of the dead—"suggest that she had been beautiful and much-loved," explains the Guardian. The paper has more on the woman from Schofield, by way of the Ethiopia Observer. "She was curled up on her side, with her chin resting on her hand, wearing a beautiful bronze ring. She was buried gazing into an extraordinary Roman bronze mirror."

The Kingdom of Aksum, of which the city of the same name was the capital, existed from AD100 to AD940, and at one point covered the majority of what is now Eritrea, northern Ethiopia, Western Yemen, southern Saudi Arabia, and Sudan, reports Ancient Origins. The Roman mirror, along with other Roman artifacts found in the dig—which took place a three hours' drive south of the ancient city of Aksum, near the town of Hawzien—is significant: Schofield explains that much of what had previously been known about the Aksumite kingdom dated to the fourth and fifth centuries, "when they adopted Christianity [and] ... were trading very intensely with Rome." But her team's finds are from the first and second centuries, indicating the kingdom may have had a trade relationship with Rome far earlier. Schofield has been exploring Ethiopia for years, and in 2012 she announced a find that she believed is related to the Queen of Sheba. (Another 2,000-year-old marvel has been found, this one in Jerusalem.)

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