Archaeologists discover 2,000-year-old grave of mysterious 'sleeping beauty'

A team of archaeologists has discovered 11 graves in the ruins of Aksum, once the seat of Ethiopia's ancient empire. A number of interesting artifacts — including some that complicate the accepted timeline of ancient Rome's trade with Africa — have been found within, but the most haunting were probably from the grave of a woman dubbed “Sleeping Beauty."

Carved from an overhang, the tomb dates to the first or second century A.D. and holds the remains of a mysterious woman of some importance. "The way the body and its grave goods had been positioned," The Guardian reports, "suggest that she had been beautiful and much-loved."

Head archaeologist Louise Schofield explained to The Guardian:

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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 Guardian]

The quality of the woman's jewelry — including a necklace made of thousands of beads and a belt — suggests she was an important person, Schofield said. In the grave, archaeologists also discovered a clay jug and three Roman glass vessels, including a "flask to catch the tears of the dead." Spooky!

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