Archaeologists recently discovered a sealed tomb in Tuscany, Italy. It was an exciting find on its own, but once it was excavated they learned it held a body of what they thought was a 2,600-year-old Etruscan warrior prince and the ashes of his wife.
They performed a bone analysis on the skeleton and found out something amazing: the remains of the prince were actually that of a princess. Yep, a real-life Xena. Her estimated age is 35-40, and the ashes next to her belonged to a man. Confusion arose because the female skeleton appeared to be holding a spear and the male was laid to rest next to jewelry. Judith Weingarten of British School at Athens notes:
“Until very recently, and sadly still in some countries, sex determination is based on grave goods. 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,” Weingarten said. “Guys liked bling, too.”
However, there is still some debate about the meaning of the spear. The expedition leader, Alessandro Mandolesi, believes that the spear was placed between the man and the woman as a symbol of unity—meaning that the woman wasn’t actually a warrior. Judith Weingarten believes that the spear was clearly buried with the woman.
Either way, I hope the surprising turn results in future discoveries being presented without assumptions about sexes before a full scientific analysis is conducted.