British archeologists analyzed the remains of an African woman said to be of high status in the Roman Empire. Her existence and burial were dated around the second half of the fourth century. This particular woman has been named The Ivory Bangle Lady. Part of the black Roman elite of ancient Britain, her remains were first uncovered in the Bootham area of York in August 1901. They rested in a stone coffin, which was characteristic of a person with significant money during that time period.


Her remains were found with items including jet black and elephant ivory bracelets, earrings, beads, a blue glass jug and a rectangular piece of bone with an inscription that translated, “Hail, sister, may you live in God.”


The Ivory Bangle Lady’s remains were under the microscope at the University of Reading. Through an in-depth study of the woman’s skull size and facial features, along with analysis of the chemical signature of the food and drink she consumed, scientists were able to determine her original race and social status. Through bone analysis, they could tell she was originally from a warmer climate. They also determined that the well-to-do woman was between 18 and 23 years old at her time of death.


The discovery of The Ivory Bangle Lady has led archeologists and researchers to believe that Africans were not simply slaves in ancient Britain and that there is existence of a multi-cultural community. In previous discoveries, they relied on inscriptions to tell the story of the ancient ruins, but The Ivory Bangle Lady changed their versions of Roman history forever.


Her remains are now in a special exhibit called “Roman York: Meet the People of the Empire” at the Yorkshire Museum in York, England.


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