Anthropologist Laura Wynn-Antikas who specialises in bringing bones “to life” was called to examine bones unearthed beneath the stone floor of a Byzantine chapel in the all-male monastic autonomous region of Mount Athos.
Women, including female animals with the exception of cats, have been barred from the rugged peninsula in northern Greece since the foundation of the monastery.
The bones had been initially discovered by group of Greek scientists in December 2019 in the cemetery of Pantokratoros Monastery on Mount Athos as reported in LiveScience.com.
The scientists had announced that the remains belonged “most certainly to a woman” who was buried centuries ago, however, due to the controversy of such a revelation specialist Wynn-Antikas was called to conduct further histological tests.
What she has found, as had been suspeted, has surprised both researchers and historians.
The bones, too small to resemble a man’s and not quite fitting to the density and shape of a male child’s could be female.
“Among them [the remains] were a forearm, shinbone and sacrum that were just so different in their morphology,” Wynn-Antikas, told The Guardian.
“While the others were more robust and had clearly belonged to the frames of men, these had measurements that noticeably fell in the range of a female. They were markedly different in size.”
According to the expert, decades spent studying skeletal remains across Greece, in subterranean vaults, tombs, chapels and archaeological sites, have yielded a host of unexpected discoveries.
“You never know what you are going to find. Bones don’t lie. They will tell you how a person lived and perhaps even how they died. You go in prepared to see everything.”
Found embedded in the subsoil of the chapel, the bones were also clearly a secondary burial although they had been transferred from original tombs with the utmost of care. Intrigued, the monastery of Pantokrator to which the chapel of St Athanasios belongs, proposed that the samples undergo radio carbon dating.
“If we are talking about a woman, or indeed more than one woman, it will raise a lot of questions,” Wynn-Antikas said. “Starting with who could she have possibly been.”