You can’t judge a person by their accessories. Archaeologists in Tuscany last month said they uncovered a 2,600-year-old tomb containing the bodies of a warrior prince and his bejeweled wife. Except that wasn’t quite the case, because thanks to later analysis of the bodies, it now looks like they actually uncovered the bodies of an ancient warrior princess and her jewel-wearing male partner.
The archaeologists at the site of the Etruscan tomb initially guessed incorrectly because there were two skeletons on platforms in the tomb, and one skeleton was buried with a spear while the other one as buried with jewelry. It was just assumed that the spear was a dude thing and the jewels were a lady thing, but when the bones were analyzed it was revealed that the skeleton with the spear was actually a 35- to 40-year-old woman, and the one with the jewelry was a man.
There’s still some debate about what exactly was going on in the tomb, though. One archaeologist, Alessandro Mandolesi, posits that the spear was just included as a symbol of union, and it might not belong to the woman at all. Judith Weingarten of the British School at Athens, however, says the spear was specifically buried with the woman’s body on her own platform, and was likely not just an item positioned between the woman and the man.
According to The Mary Sue, Wieingarten says this points out the problems of taking one’s own assumptions about gender roles into the field and applying them to ancient cultures.
“Until very recently, and sadly still in some countries, sex determination is based on grave goods,” she said. “And that, in turn, is based almost entirely on our preconceptions. A clear illustration is jewelry: We associate jewelry with women, but that is nonsense in much of the ancient world. Guys liked bling, too.”
Via The Mary Sue