The remains of a teenage girl who died 3,500 years ago have been found in a tomb in Egypt, covered in jewels that may have been a bridal dowry.
Spanish archaeologists found the remains of the girl during a dig near the city of Luxor in Egypt and say she would have been 15 or 16 when she died.
The girl was wearing two spiral earrings coated in copper leaf in one ear, two rings on her fingers and four necklaces draped over her neck.
As well as the bejewelled girl – who likely lived between 1580 BC to 1550 BC during the 17th Dynasty – the team found a pair of ‘remarkably well preserved sandals’.
The remains of a teenage girl who died 3,500 years ago have been found in a tomb in Egypt and she was covered in jewels that may have been a bridal dowry
The girl was wearing two spiral earrings coated in copper leaf in one ear, two rings on her fingers and four necklaces draped over her neck
Archaeologists were excavating an open courtyard near Luxor – close to the tomb of an 18th Dynasty general – ahead of a new construction project in the area.
The teenager was found in a 5 ft 7 in wooden coffin wrapped in a cotton sheet – the team say her remains were in a ‘poor state of conservation’.
However, the coffin was in a good state of repair, according to the research team, who say it came from a period when Lower Egypt was ruled by the Hyksos people – with the pharaohs only ruling the region around Thebes.
The coffin was carved from a sycamore tree trunk and at the time of her death would have been whitewashed and painted in red, according to the researchers.
One necklace was made of round beads that alternated between dark and light blue, another had green and glass beads and a third was unusually spectacular
She was resting on her right side in the Draa Abul Naga necropolis on Luxor’s West Bank and while the mummy had deteriorated the jewellery was pristine.
The girl was 15 or 16 and thought to have been about 5ft 1in tall – the jewellery may have been her trousseau which is a bridal gift for a girl when she gets married.
One of the rings on her fingers was fashioned out of bone and the other was made of metal and had a blue glass beed embedded inside it.
The four necklaces were tired together with a glazed ceramic clip and each of them was unique – ranging from 27.5 inches to 24 inches long.
One necklace was made of round beads that alternated between dark and light blue, another had green and glass beads and a third was unusually spectacular.
It was 24 inches long and had 74 pieces on it including amethyst, carnelian e, amber, blue glass and quartz beads as well as two scarabs with one showing Horus.
The fourth necklace featured several strings of beads which were knotted together at both ends with a ring, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism.
Next to her coffin was a miniature mud-made coffin near the teenager’s mummy and containing a wooden funerary figurine known as an ushabti wrapped in linen.
They also found a pair of leather sandals and leather balls tied together with a string – the balls were part of a game popular among young girls at the time.
‘The sandals are in a good state of preservation, despite being 3,600 years old,’ said José Galán, director of the archaeological mission.
The shoes had been dyed red and engraved with images of the god Bes, the goddess Taweret, a pair of cats, an ibex and a rosette.
The coffin included stylised stone objects including pieces adorned with the Eye of Horos and other gods.
There were also small gold pieces featuring scarabs and others found within the coffin of the teenage girl
‘These things are likely to belong to a woman who used them for sports or as part of dance,’ Galán said.
The valuables in the coffin were ‘perplexing’ according to Galán, who said ‘the wealth of the trousseau for a person so young and with a relatively modest coffin is surprising’.
The coffin of the girl was found laying on the ground and appeared to have been abandoned with other coffins on the same site.
‘To date, a dozen coffins have been found on the site left unprotected on the ground, which is unusual,’ said Galán.
There were earrings found in the set as well as two balls tied with a string that may have been used as a game by girls living at the time
The coffin was 5ft 7in and carved from the trunk of a sycamore tree – it would have been whitewashed and painted red at the time of the girl’s death
The team say it is likely the coffins were left there by grave robbers who had been disturbed in the act and had to flee quickly.
‘Paradoxically, what thieves were looking for the most, which was metal and semi-precious stones, was what they did not see because they acted too quickly and with very little lighting.
‘One of the bodies still had a tin plate in place with the Eye of Horus engraved on one of the faces, which would protect the body from putrefaction.
‘Tin was at that time a valuable metal because it was very scarce and very few plates of this type have been found in situ,’ said Galán.