A lavishly adorned female mummy, who archaeologists are affectionately calling “Lady of the Jewels,” was unearthed by a Spanish research team at the site of Pharaoh Thutmosis III’s Temple on the west bank of the river Nile near Luxor, Egypt.
The stylish woman lived 4,000 years ago during the time of Egypt’s Middle Kingdom (2000 BC to 1700 BC) and was likely an aristocrat.
Although the mummy and sarcophagus were badly damaged, according to Discovery.com, the jewelry remained largely intact. Among the items she was wearing were a large, shell-shaped golden pendant weighing 20 grams, a gold-plated necklace inlaid with lapis lazuli, two twisted-wire golden bracelets and two silver anklets. The silver items are the only ones that showed deterioration after 4,000 years underground. The gold and gem items looked virtually new.
“She still wore the marvelous jewelry that was attached during the process of mummification,” Thutmosis III Temple Project director Myriam Seco said in a statement. “These spectacular findings confirm that an elite necropolis is located under the mortuary temple of Thutmosis III. Wealthy and important individuals of the Middle Kingdom and their families were buried there.”
According researchers at the Thutmosis III Temple Project, a collaborative project between Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) and the Academy of Fine Arts in Seville, Spain, the woman was likely in her 30s when she was entombed.
Archaeologists would have expected that the tomb and its valuable contents would have been plundered by tomb robbers centuries ago, but this wooden sarcophagus remained sealed and untouched. It turns out that robbers couldn’t get to it because it had been crushed and buried under the massive stones of the tomb’s collapsed roof.
Thutmosis III lived from 1490 BC to 1436 BC and is sometimes referred to as the Napoleon of Ancient Egypt. He ruled for 40 years during a prosperous time of Egypt’s history. The excavation, restoration and conservation of his temple began in 2008 and is scheduled to end in early 2015.
Jewelry images: Twitter/Discovery Channel UK; Screen capture: thutmosisiiitempleproject.org