Archaeologists Unearth 2,000-Year-Old Treasures in Grave of Ethiopian Sleeping Beauty

The woman is thought to have been well-loved.

Edward Burne-Jones, The Rose Bower from the
Edward Burne-Jones, The Rose Bower from the "Legend of Briar Rose." Photo via: Wikiamedia Commons.
The Ethiopian "Sleeping Beauty." Photo: Graeme Laidlaw.

The Ethiopian “Sleeping Beauty.”
Photo: Graeme Laidlaw.

A 2,000-year-old grave of a woman filled with treasures from the Roman Empire has been found in Northern Ethiopia. The British archaeologists who found the grave, have nicknamed the woman “sleeping beauty” because of the way her body had been positioned.

“She was curled up on her side, with her chin resting on her hand, wearing a beautiful bronze ring,” Louise Schofield, a former British Museum curator who oversaw the dig, told the Guardian, which reported the story. “She was buried gazing into an extraordinary Roman bronze mirror. She had next to her a beautiful and incredibly ornate bronze cosmetics spoon with a lump of kohl eyeliner.”

The grave is just one of 11 burial sites excavated during a six-week dig at the ancient city of Aksum, part of Africa’s Aksumite kingdom, which flourished between 100–940 AD and was at one time believed to have been ruled by legendary Biblical figure the Queen of Sheba. (See Alexander the Great Tomb Yields Newly-Discovered Mosaic)

The Queen of Sheba as depicted in the medieval manuscript Bellifortis.  Photo via: Wikimedia Commons.

The Queen of Sheba as depicted in the medieval manuscript Bellifortis.
Photo via: Wikimedia Commons.

“Ethiopia is a mysterious place steeped in legend, but nobody knows very much about it,” said Schofield. Aksum is also said to the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. (See Alexander the Great-Era Tomb Yields Amazing New Murals of 4th Century BC Life).

The contents of “Sleeping Beauty’s” grave, which also include a clay jug, two intact Roman glass vessels, and an ornately beaded belt and necklace, both worn by the woman, are remarkably well-preserved because the grave was cut into a rock overhang. Schofield plans to analyze the jug to determine if she was given some kind of food or drink to accompany her on her journey to the afterlife.

The newly-uncovered artifacts will reportedly be given to a German-funded museum opening in October.

Edward Burne-Jones, <em>The Rose Bower</em> from the "Legend of Briar Rose." Photo via: Wikiamedia Commons.

Edward Burne-Jones, The Rose Bower from the “Legend of Briar Rose.”
Photo via: Wikiamedia Commons.


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