Crystal dagger, other items buried with ‘Ivory Lady’ 5,000 years ago
Piecing together the past can be an intricate puzzle.
Individual clues are assembled to capture a glimpse of someone’s life or paint a broader portrait of a distant civilization.
While analysis of DNA is one factor, archaeologists have relied on other clues to gain insight, such as grave goods. Whether or not the true meaning of these objects can ever be deciphered, they often symbolize an individual’s social standing, the role that person played or tools thought necessary for the afterlife.
New research just revealed the discovery was even more unexpected than they realized.
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The 5,000-year-old skeleton uncovered in Spain was buried with the crystal dagger shown above and other valuable items. But the individual, initially dubbed the “Ivory Man,” is actually the “Ivory Lady.”
A new method that involves analyzing tooth enamel was used to confirm that the skeleton belonged to a woman, and it has changed the way scientists interpret the entire site.
The Ivory Lady, who possibly held a leadership role, was likely revered by her society for generations after she died. Graves spanning 200 years after her death encircle the woman’s tomb.
“She must have been (a) highly charismatic person. She probably traveled or did have connections with people from faraway lands,” said archaeologist Leonardo García Sanjuán, a professor of prehistory at the University of Seville.