They call her the “Sleeping Beauty.” But this woman, whose remains were found at an archaeological dig in Africa recently, is no fairy tale. However she, and the kingdom she hails from, are both shrouded in mystery.
The grave of the Sleeping Beauty were found among 11 different graves unearthed at the ancient city of Aksum, which traded heavily with the Romans and ruled northeast Africa for hundreds of years, the Guardian reported.
But since there isn’t much in the way of remains after all this time — and her pelvis was devoured by termites — the British archaeologists who found her know little about the Sleeping Beauty. However, the manner in which her body was positioned and the items left with her suggest that she was not only beloved, but a real looker.
Louise Schofield, a former British Museum curator, led the six-week dig at Aksum, lured there by the hopes of finding the gravesite of the biblical Queen of Sheba.
“She was curled up on her side, with her chin resting on her hand, wearing a beautiful bronze ring. 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 lovely lady also wore a necklace decorated with thousands of little beads, a beaded belt, and was surrounded by Roman glass vessels, including two drinking beakers and a flask whose purpose was to catch the tears of the dead. These luxurious goods suggest that whoever she was, she enjoyed a very high status in life.
She was also buried with a clay jug that may have contained food and drink for the afterlife. Since Ethiopia wasn’t yet Christian during this woman’s day, this manner of burial was standard.
But she still remains a mystery. Researchers must examine her teeth before they can learn too much about the Sleeping Beauty — they don’t even know how old she was when she died.
So what about those connections to the Queen of Sheba? Schofield was drawn to this region of northern Ethiopia because she’d heard rumors about a 20-foot stone slab, which was carved with an inscription and symbol that has been associated with the legendary woman — a sun and crescent moon, CNN reported.
The 2,000-year-old remains of the Sleeping Beauty were discovered protected by that slab. Also spotted at the site were buried warriors wearing large iron bangles — archaeologists think they may have died on battlefields close by. Another woman, also wearing a quite pricey necklace, was also uncovered, as was a glass perfume flask.
The Queen of Sheba, as she appeared in the Bible, was a queen regent of extraordinary wealth who visited and had a chat with King Solomon, as told in the Old Testament. There are many stories surrounding her — the most exhaustive and detailed is part of the Ethiopian national saga.
In 2012, Schofield found an ancient gold mine that may have been the source of her wealth. However, the ancient civilization she may have been a part of, Aksum, is as mysterious as the Sleeping Beauty, even though it was a major trading power from the first to seventh centuries, with an advantageous spot between Rome and India.
But the remains of Sleeping Beauty date back 2,000 years, and her skeleton and the items she took with her to the afterlife prove to archaeologists that trade with Rome started much earlier than they thought.
“Ethiopia is a mysterious place steeped in legend, but nobody knows very much about it,” Schofield said.