A glorious tomb in ancient Spain is that of a woman, not a man, a new study has revealed.

WASHINGTON (AP) — When archaeologists first discovered a 5,000-year-old ornate tomb in Spain, they thought it was for one person. He held a rock crystal dagger, ivory and other valuables. But now they have determined that the fossil is female and it only took two teeth.

The researchers used a new sex-determining method that examines tooth enamel. This methodTheir study, published Thursday in the journal, says it is more reliable than analyzing skeletal remains that were developed five years ago. Scientific reports.

Most of the details about the life of the “Ivory Lady”, as researchers called her, are still a mystery, but there are some clues.

“She was buried alone in a tomb with very unique artifacts,” said co-author Leonardo García Sanjuan, an archaeologist at the University of Seville in Spain. “It shows that she was a special person.”

The tomb is located on Spain’s southern coast, a few miles west of Seville, and was excavated in 2008. Archaeologists examined poorly preserved bones and found a number of valuables in the tomb – which they thought contained a young man – ostrich eggshells and frogs with tusks and daggers. including – indicated that the person had a high social status.

The new technique detects differences in tooth enamel chemistry between men and women and can be used even when whole DNA is not available.

Alison Beach, a historian at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, who was not involved in the study, said: “This study provides one more piece of evidence that calls into question the old historical narratives. This shows that “it is not true that only men have it,” he said. He was always the most respected or the most powerful person.”

Marta Cintas-Peña, co-author and archaeologist at the University of Seville, maintains a database of Copper Age burials found at 21 different archaeological sites on the Iberian Peninsula. It currently has records for 1,723 individuals.

“The burial of the Ivory Lady stands out, head and shoulders above everyone else – there is absolutely no burial, male or female, that compares to hers,” Garcia Sanjuan said.

For about 250 years after the Ivory Lady was buried, new tombs were built around her — but always with a 100-foot (30-meter) buffer zone, he said. And 80 years after her death, people have re-entered her grave and placed more resonant objects, including the crystal dagger.

Researchers know little about the social or political structure of the community – which roughly coincides with the rise of the pharaohs when the first planned cities were built along the banks of the Euphrates in Egypt and Mesopotamia.

“Oh, this is a rich and famous person, it must be a man,” says co-author Katrina Rebai-Salisbury, an archaeologist at the University of Vienna in Austria, who suspects that researchers may have made similar mistakes in other ancient tombs.

Recently, other researchers have determined that they are decorated with DNA analysis Viking warrior It was a woman buried in Sweden, according to early speculation.

“If we go back and try, we’ll find a few more surprises,” Rebay-Salisbury said.


Follow Christina Larson on Twitter at @larsonchristina


The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science and Education Media Group. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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