National Geographic : 1990 Mar
Dust to dust... gold lives on unmarked earthen pit two meters down (left), a hoard of gold reveals the sta tus of a Kushan noble woman, perhaps 40 years old, found in Grave Two. The wooden coffin, whose outline remains, once stood on legs but had no lid. When the woman was bur ied, a shroud spangled with gold disks was wrapped tightly around her body. On one finger she wore the sig net ring seen on the facing page. Her jaw was bound with a broad gold chin stay. On her breast lay a Chinese mirror (like the one shown on page 61), seen here as a half-buried disk. In the detail below, ante lopes from the bracelets shown opposite peer from the soil. One still encircles the wristbone, the other lies by her upper arm. Both bracelets show strong signs of wear. Grave Two was hollow until the wooden planks and leather hides that supported the earth above collapsed, compressing all into a jumble of bones, wooden scraps, and artifacts that took months to sort out. Every spangle, every pattern, every layer of wood dust was painstakingly analyzed. To complicate matters, the dead woman wore four or five lay ers of clothes, most with their own opulent style of embellishment.