History Files



Etruscan Body

by David Willey, BBC News, 30 May 2006



Italian archaeologists digging in the Roman Forum have found a well-preserved skeleton of a woman who lived 3,000 years ago.

The astonishing fact about this discovery is that it dates back to at least 300 years before the traditional date of the founding of Rome, 753 BC.

It has long been known that Bronze Age people were living on the site where the ancient Romans founded their city.

But few traces of their society have ever been brought to light.

Anna De Santis, who took part in the dig, said the woman whose bones have been found was aged about 30 when she died.

She was evidently of high birth, for she was wearing an amber necklace with a gold pendant, a bronze hair-fastener and a bronze ring on one of her fingers.

The archaeologists also found four bronze clasps, two of which may have been used to hold her shroud in place.

It was the custom for most prehistoric ancestors of the ancient Romans to cremate their dead and place their ashes in funerary urns.

Experts in Roman pre-history are interested that the new burial site, not far from the forum where Caesar's body was burned after his assassination 1,000 years later, marks a transition in social habits, from cremation - the customary form of burial at that period of pre-history - to burial in the ground.



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