| 4 June 2006
Bronze Age skeleton found in the heart of Rome
Archeologists unearthed an intact 3,000-year-old Bronze Age skeleton in the heart of ancient Rome (Italy). Experts said the body was that of a woman and that she was probably the wife of a tribal leader as she was buried with four bronze bracelets, a ring, two hair-grips and an amber necklace.
Burials within ancient Rome were rare, with cremations more common. It was the first skeleton to be found in the 3,000-year-old necropolis. Early this year, a funerary urn that contained human ashes, as well as bone fragments that appeared to be from a sheep, were found in one of the necropolis' tombs. The find has excited experts not just because it dates back to 1,000 years before Christ, but also because it predates the very founding of Rome at 745 BCE. What has also amazed historians is that the woman, who was aged about 30, had a perfect set of teeth.
Anna De Santis, the archaeologist leading the dig, said: "It is the first burial site that we have found in this particular area - the rest have all been cremations. What is interesting is that she has a full set of perfect teeth, so one would imagine her flashing a beautiful smile. At 5ft 7in she would also have been above the average height for the period, so with her beautiful smile and flowing hair kept in place with bronze hairpieces, one can picture a very beautiful woman."
The skeleton was found in the Forum of Caesar in central Rome, close to the famous 'wedding cake' monument of Piazza Venezia. Three thousand years ago the Forum was marshland and only began to develop into the cornerstone of ancient Rome 500 years later. Experts have said the necropolis was destined for high-ranking personalities — such as warriors and ancient priests — heading the tribes and clans that lived in small villages scattered on hills near the area that later spawned one of the world's greatest civilizations. The bones would likely be put on display in a museum after being examined further, De Santis said.
Sources: Fox News (30 May 2006), Yahoo! News, The Scotsman (31 May 2006), CNN (1 June 2006)
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