The Lady of Cao – c.450 – Chicama, Peru

Peru

CW: Human sacrifice, goreLady of Cao

The ancient Moche culture of northern Peru was highly sophisticated, and is well known for its beautiful ceramics, detailed gold work, enormous huacas (revered monuments) and elaborate religious rituals.

Their brutal belief system centred largely on war, blood, sex and death. Ritual human sacrifice appears to have been common, as well as drinking blood and excarnation (stripping the flesh from a corpse to leave only the bones).  Until recently, it was believed that this was a patriarchal religion, presided over by male priests.

The tomb of the Lady of Cao was only discovered in 2006, though it is estimated that she died around 450 CE. She was laid to rest surrounded by ceremonial items which included weapons and gold jewellery, indicating that she was a woman of high rank.

Her body had been mummified by the hot, dry climate, meaning that an autopsy could be performed to reveal more about her life and death. The lady was heavily tattooed with images of snakes and spiders (sacred animals in Moche culture) as well as other symbols.

Archaeologists believe that she may have been a priestess or even a ruler. It is estimated that the Lady of Cao was only in her twenties when she died as a complication from pregnancy or childbirth. A second young woman was buried in the same tomb, potentially a human sacrifice.

See also: Puabi of Ur is another high ranking woman whose tomb was discovered in Iraq – she is believed to have been either a priestess or a ruler circa 3000 BCE.


References:

Mummy of Tattooed Woman Discovered in Peru Pyramid – Scott Norris for the National Geographic

Tomb of the Tattooed Sorceress Queen, The Lady of CaoAncient Origins

On Wikipedia:

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Basina – c. 438 – 477 – Thuringia, Germany

France, Germany

Basina

Basina of Thuringia was a woman who knew what she wanted. A Saxon princess, she became queen of Thuringia (in Germany) when she married King Bisinus.

She first met Childeric I, king of the Franks while he was in exile. Bisinus gave Childeric shelter and protection for eight years before the Frankish king was able to return to Roman Gaul (modern day France).

Clearly Basina had enjoyed Childeric’s company, as shortly after he had left she packed her bags and headed to Gaul. When she arrived at the royal court Childeric asked why she had come. She responded:

“I know your worth. I will have the most powerful man in the world, even if I must cross an ocean for him.”

Childeric and Basina were married and their son Chlodovech (better known as Clovis I) went on to unite all of the Frankish tribes and became the first king of the Franks.

It is worth noting that Basina herself named her son, which in itself is very unusual in a time when sons were typically named after a male ancestor. These two scant facts we have about Basina describe a remarkable woman who clearly took charge of her own life and decisions.


References:

History of the FranksGregory of Tours

Biography of BasineKoren Whipp for Project Continua

Aedesia – 5th Century – Alexandria, Egypt

Ancient Greece, Greece

Aedesia

Aedesia was a Greek Neoplatonist philosopher who lived in Egypt during the 5th century.

She was related to Syrianus, the head of the Neoplatonist school in Athens (alongside Asclepigenia), and apparently spent much of her life around scholars and great thinkers. She was even briefly engaged to one of his students, Proclus.

Aedesia married Hermias, also a student of Syranius, and had two sons with him, Ammonius and Heliodorus. When Hermias died she received a small state allowance which enabled her to devote herself to educating her children.

When her sons were old enough to study philosophy, Aedesia took them to Athens where she reconnected with Proclus. She was very popular among the philosophers of Athens who praised her virtue and dedication to educating her children.

Aedesia reportedly lived well into old age, though there is very little information on how she spent the rest of her life.


References:

On Wikipedia: