The discovery of an intact tomb was made in September at an Etruscan necropolis in Tarquinia, Italy.
It had been protected by a heavy stone slab, which completely sealed the opening, until now.
The warrior lay undisturbed in a tomb for over 2,600 years. Resting on a raised stone bed with spear in hand, the archaeologists surmised that it must surely be an Etruscan prince, possibly even related to Tarquinius Priscus, the fifth king of Rome.
So perfectly preserved was the tomb that at the skeleton’s feet lay a dish still containing remnants of food. Next to the dish was a large basin for washing. A bronze-plated box, gold jewelry and clay pots were also found.
Brooches lay upon the prince’s chest. On a smaller platform in the chamber lay the partially incinerated skeleton of his wife.
But things are not always as they ‘appear’ to be or as we expect them to be.
As it turns out, the partially incinerated skeleton was not his wife. It was her husband.
Yes, the ‘warrior’ was a woman!
Bone analyses revealed that the remains of the person holding the spear were those of a 35-40 year old woman, most likely a princess, and the remains on the smaller platform were those of a man. Archaeologists are not sure what to make of the spear. Some believe it was placed there to show the woman’s high status.
But could she have been a warrior? Etruscan women enjoyed a life unlike those of their Greek and Roman counterparts.
According to tomb paintings, the most important source of information about the Etruscans, Etruscan women went out in public freely, attended events and banquets alongside men, and even exercised with them.
They could read and write, used their own names, drove chariots and knew how to party.
If you took an Etruscan woman and put her in modern day Rome, she would probably do quite well for herself.
There seems to be no mention of Etruscan women warriors, but it’s probably best to keep an open mind.