They display the Roman skeleton that inspired Plath in his work 'All the Dead Dears'

They display the Roman skeleton that inspired Plath in his work 'All the Dead Dears'

The skeleton of a Roman woman from the 4th century AD., was one of a series of high-status Roman burials found by construction workers at Arbury, on the outskirts of Cambridge, in 1952.

Roman skeleton from the 4th century AD that inspired Plath in one of his works

She was wrapped in a woolen shroud, buried in a solid stone coffin and lined with lead, but despite this, those who buried her made two major mistakes: that they turned it upside down and that either they did not put the lid on the coffin properly or they let a mouse and a shrew sneak in before closing it.

When the coffin was opened in 1952, the skeletons of the mouse and the shrew were found inside and the ankle of the womanbetween 40 and 55 years of age), showed signs of having been gnawed at by his peers.

The coffin and skeletons were put on display in the Clark Gallery of the University of Cambridge of the Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. Sylvia Plath she attended Newnham College, Cambridge, on a Fulbright scholarship between 1955 and 1957. The Gnawed Woman and her rodent friends inspired the writer in All the dead dears.

Photograph taken in 1952 when opening the coffin

The skeletons were kept in the limelight from 1950 until the 1980s, when were transferred to the warehouse due to overcrowding. Now that the museum has undergone a major 18-month renovation and a $ 2.8 million investment, many important pieces that have never been on public display and some important pieces that have been out of the public eye for decades have returned including the gnawed woman of Rome and the original shrew, Y poster of the mouse that so impressed Sylvia Plath.

Cambridge has a large collection of artifacts from around the world donated by wealthy and academic alumni, as well as local discoveries that illustrate the Roman and Anglo-Saxon history of the area. The new gallery will have almost double the number of objects on display, but still that is less than 1% of the entire museum collection. The renovated gallery reopened on May 25.

Museum of Archeology & Anthropology

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