4,000 year old gold-adorned skeleton found near Windsor
|Excavations at Kingsmead Quarry [Credit: Wessex Archaeology]|
The archaeologist in charge of the excavation, Gareth Chaffey of Wessex Archaeology, believes that she may have been a person of power – perhaps even the prehistoric equivalent of a princess or queen.
It’s known that in southern Britain, some high status men of that era – the Copper Age – had gold possessions, but this is the first time archaeologists have found a woman of that period being accorded the same sort of material status.
|An artist's impression of what the elite lady would have looked like in the grave at the time of the funeral some 4400 years ago [Credit: Wessex Archaeology]|
The funeral rite for the potential prehistoric royal may have involved her family arranging her body so that, in death, she clasped a beautiful pottery drinking vessel in her hands. The 25 centimetre tall ceramic beaker was decorated with geometric patterns.
Of considerable significance was the fact that she was buried with her head pointing towards the south.
|Folded sheet gold beads which form part of the lady's necklace [Credit: Wessex Archaeology]|
The woman’s skeleton and jewellery were found 18 months ago – but were kept strictly under wraps until now, following the completion of initial analyses of the woman’s bones – and metallurgical analysis of the gold.
The discovery is part of a still ongoing excavation which started a decade ago. The elite gold-and-amber-adorned Copper Age woman is merely the most spectacular of dozens of discoveries made at the site – including four early Neolithic houses, 40 Bronze Age burials, three Bronze Age farm complexes and several Iron Age settlements.
|The woman was found with a large drinking vessel, unusually placed on her hip rather than by her feet or shoulder. The fine pottery vessel had been decorated with a comb-like stamp [Credit: Wessex Archaeology]|
Archaeologist Gareth Chaffey of Wessex Archaeology, who is directing the ongoing excavation, said that the woman unearthed at the site “was probably an important person in her society, perhaps holding some standing which gave her access to prestigious, rare and exotic items. She could have been a leader, a person with power and authority, or possibly part of an elite family - perhaps a princess or queen.”
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Author: David Keys | Source: Independent [April 21, 2013]