German Archaeologists Find a Hoard of 2,600-Year-Old Gold Jewelry in the Tomb of 'The Lady'

German archaeologists have discovered a hoard of elaborately crafted gold jewelry among other precious items in the 2,600-year-old tomb of a high-ranking Bronze Age woman known as "The Lady."

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About 30 years old at the time of her death, the Celtic woman died in 583 B.C. and was buried in a wooden chamber filled with golden brooches, gold strip earrings, bronze and amber jewelry, as well as textiles and furs. The findings are published in the February issue of the journal Antiquity.

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Archaeologists believe The Lady was likely "a kind of priestess" because other items found with the treasures included a petrified sea urchin and an ammonite. Buried not far from The Lady was a small child that was likely her daughter. The three-year-old girl wore miniature versions of The Lady's jewelry.

Despite being 2,600 years old, the gold jewelry looks to be in pristine condition and the workmanship is impressive.

Many of The Lady's jewelry possessions were imported from far-off places. Her bracelets carved of jet probably originated near England and her amber pendant likely came from the Baltic or North Sea. The decorations carved into her gold beads are in the style of the Etruscans, who lived across the Alps in what now is Italy.

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A group of scientists led by Dirk Krausse, state archaeologist of Baden-Württemberg in Germany, were surprised that the tomb at the site of the ancient hill fort of Heuneburg had not been looted. Heuneburg, which borders the Danube River in what is now southern Germany, covered 250 acres as was considered the first city north of the Alps.

“We were surprised to find the grave goods were still there, even the gold, waiting for us,” Krausse told Live Science.

Credits: Jewelry photos by Yvonne MŸhleis, State Office for Cultural Heritage, Baden-Württemberg, Germany; Heuneburg rendering by Kenny Arne Lang Antonsen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

BlogNicole Cohen