A mystery woman dressed in silk and gold found buried under the London streets was from the elite of the Roman Empire, researchers say
- A woman who lived in the fourth century and was buried in a stone sarcophagus under a market in
Londonwas part of Rome's elite, researchers have said.
- The woman's body was first discovered among rows of graves in March 1999 under London's Spitalfields Market.
- While the researchers were aware she came from a lavish background, a new book is said to discuss new information about the extent of her wealth.
A team of researchers has released more information about a noble Roman woman who lived in the fourth century and was buried under what is now a market in London.
The woman's body was first discovered among rows of graves in March 1999 under London's Spitalfields Market as part of a large excavation.
The body was found in an elaborately decorated lead coffin that itself was placed inside a stone sarcophagus, indicating at the time that she was someone of great wealth and high status. The extent of her riches has been further explored, however, by a team of researchers from the Museum of London
According to the Daily Mail, a new book published this week cited analysis of the woman's teeth to suggest that she probably spent most of her life in mainland Europe. She's thought to have moved to England after marrying young.
The Mail added she was thought to have been the wife of a Roman senator between the years 350 and 410.
Researchers say the woman was wrapped in high-quality Chinese silk interwoven with fine gold thread. Microscopic analysis of the woman's clothing found that it was purple - a hallmark of the rich and powerful in Roman Britain because of the difficulty obtaining the dye.
The new findings come as part of an ongoing 30-year project run by the Museum of London Archaeology.
The woman was found among the graves of almost 500 people, most of whom were men.
The latest book is also said to explain that a whole segment of the cemetery dug up under the market was dedicated to young children, which is considered highly unusual for the time.
"This is often explained in terms of the social status of children in the Roman colonies and classical beliefs that infants did not have souls being reflected in more casual burial practices," a representative for the museum said in a press release.
"This new evidence raises the question as to whether infants were instead being buried in as yet undiscovered separate cemeteries," the person added.
Spitalfields Market is now a buzzing market in East London that sells clothing, jewelry, art, and home items.
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