Peptide analysis reveals truth of Seville’s ‘Ivory Lady’

Recreation drawing of ‘The Ivory Lady’

Source: © Miriam Lucianez Trivino

Ancient human remains entombed with an array of treasures, originally believed to be a young male, revealed to be those of a woman

The highest status individual in copper age Iberian society was a woman, not a man as was previously believed. The discovery is the result of an analysis of peptides extracted from tooth enamel taken from ancient remains found in a tomb in southern Spain.

In 2008, the remains of an unusually high-ranking individual were discovered in a copper age (3200–2200BCE) tomb in Valencina near Seville. The person – who was initially believed to have been a male between the ages of 17 and 25 – was buried with an extravagant array of objects including multiple flint and ivory items, and a full tusk from an African elephant, weighing almost 2kg. A ceramic plate bearing chemical traces of wine and cannabis was also discovered in the tomb.