Sunday, August 6, 2023

#218 / Who Is That Girl?


Pictured is a young woman who died, in England, in the seventh century. You can read about her in an online article captured from the Smithsonian Magazine. A good part of the article is quoted below. The article is titled, "Forensic Artist Reconstructs the Face of a Teenager Who Lived 1,300 Years Ago." 
Apparently - if the archeologists know what they are talking about - the girl was an early convert to Christianity. She was buried wearing the "Trumpington Cross," pictured below: 

"Sam Lucy, an archaeologist at the University of Cambridge who’s been researching the girl, [tells] CNN that the purpose of the facial reconstruction is to humanize her. “It helps you to remember that these were people who had hopes and dreams, and died young,” she adds.
"The burial was remarkable for several reasons, according to a statement from the researchers: For one, the girl, who was around 16, was buried in a carved wooden bed—one of only 18 bed burials ever found in the United Kingdom. Additionally, she was found wearing gold pins and fine clothing, and around her neck she wore a stunningly ornate cross—which researchers have named the “Trumpington cross,” after the meadows where she was found. The adornments found with her indicate aristocratic or perhaps even royal status.
"Researchers think this girl was a convert to Christianity—perhaps one of England’s first.
"When the grave was discovered in 2012, Lucy told BBC News that burying an individual with “grave goods” was “counter to the Christian belief of soul and not body continuing after death,” and this combination of traditions indicates that the girl lived “right on the cusp of the shift from Pagan to Christian."
"Using an advanced technique called isotopic analysis to study the girl’s bones, researchers have learned a few new details about her life. She was not, in fact, native to England; she moved there from somewhere near the Alps at some point after she turned 7 years old. The isotopic results also match two other women who were found earlier in the area, also buried in beds, indicating a movement of elite women from mainland Europe to England.
"The analysis also revealed that the girl had less access to protein after she moved to England, indicating that her lifestyle changed substantially upon arrival, and previous studies had found that she was likely ill.
“She was probably quite unwell, and she traveled a long way to somewhere completely unfamiliar—even the food was different. It must have been scary. ... [But] she must have known that she was important and she had to carry that on her shoulders.”

Reading about this young girl, whose body was found in a grave in a meadow in the English countryside, led me to wonder whether we might properly ask the same questions the archeologists have asked about the girl - and ask them about ourselves, and of the living people we know - and of the living people we don't know. 
Who is that girl? Who am I, and who are you? Who are all these people we see, daily, in the streets, or in the shops, or at our workplace? 
Archeologists have worked diligently to reveal the mystery of that young girl found in a grave, to let us know about her life. But what of your life, and mine, and the lives of all those whom we see, who may even be "family?" How much do we know, really, about those lives?
We are, each one of us, a living mystery to each other - and even, oftentimes, even to ourselves.

If the story of the Trumpington girl moves you - as it certainly does move me - remember that we should be moved, too, by the profoundly mysterious stories that could be told about each one of us who is living right now. Let us open up our hearts to that, to the lovely beauty of the living, those who are still here, and whom we can see all around us.

That's what I began thinking, when I started reading the article from the Smithsonian Magazine. "Who is that girl? Who am I, and who are you?"

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