Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: Who loves the Red Lady of Paviland?

March 2, 2013


Archeologists certainly do. The Red Lady made her social debut in 1823 when she was discovered by Rev. William Buckland as he explored a network of limestone caves in Wales. Part of an ancient, ceremonial burial site, her skeleton lay coated in red ochre, a claylike pigment, accompanied by seashell necklaces and carved mammoth ivory. The first human fossil ever discovered, she still managed to hide her age quite well: Buckland estimated her to be from the first century Roman occupation of Britain, but radiocarbon dating now shows she lived in the Paleolithic era, around 33,000 years ago. The Red Lady also kept a secret from the man who discovered and named her: she was actually a male.

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