Archaeology Magazine

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Rare Tumor Discovered in 1,600-Year-Old Woman’s Skeleton

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

LLEIDA, SPAIN—While excavating a necropolis at the site of La Fogonussa in Spain, archaeologists have found the 1,600-year-old skeleton of a Roman woman who had an ovarian teratoma, the first to be recorded in the ancient world. Such benign tumors originate from germ cells, which normally become human eggs and so can form other body parts. This particular tumor had calcified in her pelvis and contained bone and four deformed teeth. “We suppose that, at least during a long part of her life, she was completely unaware of this tumor. Depending on the eventual complications, she could have suffered, but there is no evidence of this,” read a statement by researcher Núria Armentano.