The Sarcophagus of the Lady of Cádiz Contains a Man's Skeleton and the Sarcophagus of a Man, a Woman

Phoenician Encyclopedia

The male and female Phoenician anthropoid sarcophagi.

Highlight any text; our page(s) will read it. Text-to-speech


The best kept secret of the Museum of Cádiz:

* The Lady of Cádiz was a man, and
* The Male sarcophagus contained a woman
* The two sarcophagi contain remains of sexes opposed to those carved on their covers.

Two ex-directors of the Museum of Cádiz confirm this information that was never revealed. It seems that the burials did not represent the deceased, but depended on what was available at the time of someone died

      Twitter Logo Join PhoeniciaOrg Twitter
for alerts on new articles
Facebook Logo Visit our Facebook Page
for additional, new studies

Secret of the Museum of Cádiz

  Interview with archaeologist Ana Maria Niveau
  Ana Niveau, during a break in an excavation campaign in Tunisia.
  Ana Maria Niveau during a break in an excavation campaign in Tunisia.

Congratulations. What does a prize like this mean to you?

-The recognition by the University of Cadiz to work that is often slow, which gives long-term results, at least in our Humanities discipline... I am grateful to the University, but also to my parents, to my husband and my children, because without their support I would not have had a first level research career and, consequently, not have obtained this Award for Research Excellence. [The award recognizes his scientific activity in the last ten years].

How long have you been investigating archaeological finds?

-From before finishing my research, I've been an archaeologist, I dedicated myself to the Phoenician world, but I started in 1988. I worked with my prehistory teachers, who had projects in progress. When I graduated, I decided to do my doctorate and do a research career. I had a four-year predoctoral fellowship first. Thereafter, once I read the thesis I was in Italy with a postdoctoral fellowship from the Ministry. It was in Viterbo, at the University of Tucson, in a chair of Phoenician-Punic archaeology, with one of the best specialists at that time in Italy, Sandro Filipo Bondi. But above all I am a disciple of Diego Ruiz Mata, and he introduced me to the investigation of the Phoenician world and allowed me to work with him in the Doña Blanca Castle with ceramic materials from the site. Diego Ruiz Mata was the director of my scholarships and my doctoral thesis. In any case, archaeology is not an individual-work, but a group effort. We are many who worked on it, and I want to recognize my team and the work behind each article, each finding, each project. [Ana Niveau is a researcher responsible for the Group of the Andalusian Plan of Research Phoenix Mediterranean (HUM-509)]

Was graduation in Cádiz ...

-I could have gone away, my family had a house in Madrid, but I preferred to stay in a small university but close to the object of my research, which I was passionate about. And I do not regret it. When I had to leave, I left. Then, I had a postdoctoral fellowship in Madrid and then a Ramón y Cajal fellowship. My career has been research, which is not the most normal in Humanities. I was the first Ramón y Cajal that has been in Humanities and Social Sciences in the UCA. In fact I think I'm the first in Humanities. In 2011, at the University of Cádiz we were only thirteen Ramón y Cajal and three of us have been awarded with one of the Prizes for Research Excellence of the UCA this year.

Professor Niveau, with her family, at the Rector of the UCA, after collecting her Award for Research Excellence.
Professor Niveau, with her family, at the Rector of the UCA, after collecting her Award for Research Excellence.

Do you feel in Cadiz in the European Mecca of Phoenician archeology?

-It should be. We are going to try to make it so. For years the situation has been a bit stopped, with this time of crisis, lack of funding, problems to dig, because the Board has been paralyzing everything that was launched in 1985. Now, from the research group that I lead we are trying daily to revitalize all this. I am a member of the scientific committee of the Association of the Phoenicians of Spain, which belongs to European Cultural Itineraries. From there we are trying to work on this shortly. We are waiting for the necessary permits and to return to study of the bone remains of the anthropoid sarcophagi of Cádiz. A few days before this interview was made, a former director of the Museum and active participant in the discovery (and later study of the female sarcophagus), Antonio Álvarez, revealed what follows. In the recording of a program of Onda Cádiz the two sarcophagi contain remains of sexes opposed to those carved in their covers. Then, Álvarez and the former director of the Museum, Ramón Corzo , confirmed to Virginia León, in Diario de Cádiz, the relevant hidden data for almost 40 years.

"We try to revitalize this world from institutions such as the Route of the Phoenicians of Spain"

The anthropological and paleopathological study of the bony remains of the anthropoid sarcophagi will be carried out by the team's anthropologist, María de los Milagros Macías López . We hope to have the results before the XI International Colloquium of the Center of Phoenician and Punic Studies, dedicated to the funerary world, to be held at the end of November in Ibiza. This is planned to corroborate the results of the first work carried out in 1980 by Antonio Álvarez, which was never published. Antonio Álvarez knew from the beginning that the Lady of Cádiz was a woman, and so he communicated it to the then director of the Cádiz Museum.

In addition, we are participating in an international project on the Phoenicians at a Mediterranean level with foci on six fundamental points of the Phoenician culture, among them Cádiz. I am the main researcher of the project Paleogenetic study of the Phoenician population of Gadir-Gades (Cádiz, Spain) , within the framework of the Mediterranean project A Paleogenetic Study of the Phoenician Period. It is led by Professor Dr. Pierre A. Zalloua, of the American University of Lebanon, and Professor Elizabeth Anne Matisoo-Smith, of the University of Otago (New Zealand). DNA has been sequenced from populations of Lebanon (the original Phoenician), Carthage (Tunisia), Monte Sirai (Sardinia), Mozia (Sicily), Ibiza and Cádiz is underway. Within the framework of this project it is planned to include, after the latest developments, the bone remains from the two anthropoid sarcophagi. In Cádiz we should be, and in this we are, leaders in the Phoenician studies at Spanish, Peninsular and international level.

What is the finding of which you feel most proud?

-It is a mistake that exists in society to think that archaeologists are looking for something ... Archaeologists do not look for anything. Neither seek, nor unfortunately, almost find. What archeologists do is record the past. Many times it is more spectacular to find a piece of very small pottery, which gives you the age you are looking for, or the data you needed to confirm at that time, a spectacular find, for example, of a sarcophagus. The other day, in the recording of that television program at the Museum of Cádiz, I was thrilled. Those who participated in the discovery of the female sarcophagus were able to convey the excitement experienced by that group of recently graduated archaeologists when encountering a finding of these dimensions ...

"Many researchers today find it very difficult to stay on the front line"

Investigation in Spain is still difficult, as Ramón y Cajal said, or have things changed?

-No, no, it's still crying and it's something, also, very passionate, something very vocational. It's very hard. Many times it depends on the economic moment and the will. And that in the UCA there have been vice-rectors, like Casimiro Mantell, who have done a lot for research. In 2012, my contract end Ramón y Cajal coincided with an extension due to maternity leave. And then the offer of public employment had been completely frozen. I saw myself on the street. And she was not the only one. In the end it was very difficult to consolidate. They did not know what to do with us. In the end they decided to take a place. But I was unemployed for three months after having had a luxury contract, one of the best in Spain for researchers. Of those, between 250 and 300 per year in all disciplines. In mine, only five or six. It was a tough time that I do not like to remember but that you have to remember. Today I have my position as a professor and, in addition, in the subject that I like. I have participated in international projects thanks to all those stays I did in my predoctoral period. I cannot complain.

"A vice-rector came to ask me what Ramón y Cajal wanted? If I had a husband who loved me"

Then, today, the researchers cannot produce?

-I have had to hear from fellow men say that if I was taking advantage of the Ramón y Cajal to have children. My husband also works at the University. At that time he held a directive position and I never heard him reproached for having taken advantage of him to have children. There was a vice chancellor of more than a decade ago that when I applied for the scholarship he came to ask me what I wanted a Ramón y Cajal for if I had a husband who loved me. And I had to choose between denouncing it and going to the university defender and plunging my career forever or shutting myself up and swallowing it. And in the end, because you have fought a lot, you have to shut up if you want to continue with your research career. But I do not forget that phrase. And it was not in the 50s. Women always have to be showing that we are worth more. Because, Maybe this prize dedicated exclusively to women could seem to be enough, that I have also heard from a colleague that if we want to be equal, it should not exist. But I think it's not bad that it exists. If you realize, in the list of winners, apart from those specific for women, there is only one woman who is awarded ...

I mean, that research is still, in the worst sense, a thing for men ...

-Investigate no, but be in a first level, in the first line. I know -because I know many of the winners and they are all mothers and some of numerous families- that they have achieved this thanks to a total conciliation. In my case I can say that my husband takes care of my children and my house more than me, almost, because he is more organized. And other researchers I know enjoy co-responsibility. But I think of those women who do not have that luck. It is very difficult to maintain a front-line investigation, which is what one intends when embarking on a strictly research career like mine.

"In Humanities we have many more funding problems than in Science, and it should not be like that"

How much time does a researcher in Spain spend in obtaining the necessary funding to continue working?

-With the bureaucracy that we now have, a lot. We do not have a schedule, but that is common to all researchers. Financing, in Humanities ... We always think that we do not need money ... In my case, that I dedicate myself to archaeology, we are much closer to Science than in other eras of history, because we need continuously a multidisciplinary work, analytical, which are very expensive. I requested a bridge project for radiocarbon dating of certain structures, because they had asked me to do so from the Ministry. I requested 3,000 euros and they only gave me 1,500. And of six analytics that I needed, I had to settle for one ... It seems that we do not need money to investigate or that we can do things without funding. It is not like this. It costs us the same to go to a congress, to take our students.


A year after the 40th anniversary of finding s Phoenician sarcophagus, the legend of the Lady of Cádiz was confirmed to be a man. The spectacular burial was discovered in the street, Ruiz de Alda, that generated a stir in all Cadiz. No one foresaw that on September 26, 1980, under the beautiful and serene face (probably sculpted in the same workshop that manufactured the male sarcophagus), lay the skeleton of a man, judging by the robustness of his bone structure.

The archaeologist, in an excavation campaign in Útica (Tunisia), the oldest city founded by the Phoenicians together with Cádiz and Lixus.
The archaeologist, in an excavation campaign in Útica (Tunisia), the oldest city founded by the Phoenicians together with Cádiz and Lixus.

This is what Antonio Álvarez announced, as a result of the statements made a few days earlier, on a television program by Onda Cádiz called Zona Historia. The program brought together some protagonists who witnessed that historic moment in Cadiz. Among them, the then director of the museum and director of the excavation, Ramón Corzo, and the archaeologist, Francisco Blanco. By his words, "I had dedicated myself to study the skeletal remains and the corpse buried was a man, with a very robust skeleton." "In physical anthropology there are very dubious things," he added, "but I remember the mastoid processes, a kind of little hands that come out of the temporal bone and articulate the sternocleidomastoid, which is the muscle that keeps the neck in place."

The male was exposed under the structure of a pyramid with a false skeleton.
The male was exposed under the structure of a pyramid with a false skeleton.

Antonio Álvarez was then the collaborating archaeologist, and later director of the Museum, who made an explicit reference to the individual buried in the sarcophagus. "The skeleton had a large neck, the mastoid process was huge, very robust, and this was seen in all the muscular insertions." He also referred to the "bony protrusions by which muscles are attached to the upper part of the thighbone of the femur. Further, the pelvis was of an extremely strong body. It is where the gluteus medius is inserted, and indicated that the person had a strong physical capacity. No anthropologist doubts, the diagnosis of its sex, even though the sarcophagus was thought to have been for a lady according to the effigy that appeared on the lid," she said.

In a report, he elaborated after cleaning the second sarcophagus, which lasted a month. It was also confirmed, forty years later, by the then director of the excavation and by the Museum of Cádiz, Ramón Corzo. "Antonio's study was quite clear and it was endorsed and shared by the professor of History of Medicine Antonio Orozco and, later, the president of the Academy of Medicine and Hispanic American." It was as clear, the remains of the male sarcophagus belonged to a woman.

The surprising statement is also subscribed by Álvarez himself, who assumed the study of the skeleton of the male sarcophagus, which was found almost a century earlier and from which he deduced that it was a woman. "It could be a robust personality in a woman in the case of the feminine or a delicate man, in the case of the male, but in this case, we have both extremes."

The face of the Lady of Cádiz reveals great beauty and serenity. Julio González Researchers from the UCA will analyze the remains of the two Phoenician sarcophagi of Cádiz. From 1980 until today: "A woman of good stature who died at 35 or 40 years old" was thought to be in the sarcophagus discovered to have been occupied by a man

Portrait of a Lady and other related links

The face of history

The male responded to a person with "the round skull, the small mastoid process, so that any physical anthropologist would say that it is a woman." What comes to confirm that "the important thing was not the sexes carved on the cover, but the journey to the divinity" of these important personalities, whose funerary rites were worthy of the highest spheres of Phoenician society.

The male was exposed under the structure of a pyramid with a false skeleton.
Closeup of the effigies on the sarcophagi
of the man and the woman

Why didn't the news come out?

That meticulous study that took several months was made right after the discovery, but it never transpired nor was it made officially known to the press or public opinion during these forty years, beyond the legend that aired it.

Something that today surprising considering the scientific basis and scholars who supported it, but briefly will surface in the light of the studies that are about to be made in the skeletal remains of both sarcophagi. Before this question, Ramón Corzo responds that "then we did not give importance to this data, nor was there any interest in not saying it."

Narrates the expert, that of the about 200 sarcophagi that are known and that was discovered in Sidon "there are hardly any anthropological studies that I know, so I am inclined to think that it had more to do with the possibilities of using the sarcophagus at the time that someone died. " That is to say, "they took charge and they were late in arriving, and if someone died and there was a sarcophagus available, it was used," he says, downplaying the surprising facts simply revealed.

Cleaning and emptying of the female anthropoid sarcophagus.
Cleaning and emptying of the female anthropoid sarcophagus. Joaquín Hernández Kiki

However, Antonio Álvarez adds that these sarcophagi did not try to represent the deceased, "but to a very rich burial element." "You asked a local workshop and what came to you arrived," he explains. The hypothesis that takes more forces with the two sarcophagi of Cádiz, because, in none, the sexes were carved on the cover coincide with those of the deceased." He understands that this event was not the important thing, "but the journey itself to the divinity."

In any case, this news was never clearly disclosed, and "the reality is that there was no interest in not saying it, rather it was not believed that it was remarkable in those times," says Ramón Corzo. He mentions moments that were crucial for the history of Cádiz, "because at that time the sculpture of Trajan was discovered in Baelo Claudia, the female Phoenician sarcophagus, the Roman Theater, and many burials."

Maybe the truth would have overshadowed the magical discovery on the site of Ruiz de Alda, when the engineer who was lucky enough to run into the ashlars that covered the sarcophagus expressed that: "This was a pretty aunt," he told this newspaper Ramón Corzo on the thread of the 30th anniversary of the discovery. An unprecedented discovery in the twentieth century in Cádiz. It is of great relevance worldwide, only comparable to that of his travel companion on earth. In the Museum itself, the male anthropoid, discovered in Punta de Vaca in 1887. He came to close the story and become a legend of Pelayo Quintero's long-awaited search, which he never found, and which "coincidentally" appeared right under his house.

The switch of the masculine remains

Antonio Álvarez was not only the person in charge of studying the skeleton of the man of the Lady of Cádiz but of the woman contained in the male sarcophagus. He was then witnessing to the loss and happy encounter of the skeleton belonging to the male sarcophagus. He proceeded to empty it in the 80s. At that time he extracted from the sarcophagus a skeleton that did not belong to its true owner, which he expressed in a meeting held for the 125th anniversary of its discovery. The origin of the unheard of anecdote is that "in one of its many transfers the skull rupture occurred, which led to the skeleton's change back in the 1920s".

Álvarez did not reveal the name of the promoter of such an idea, although he acknowledged that one day it will be analyzed in the Museum to show that the skeleton of the true Phoenician originally buried. "Francisco de las Barras was commissioned to carry out the anthropological study in 1917." He said the news echoe the first scientific study of the skeleton by Manuel Sánchez Navarro on February 1890. He spoke then of a man of approximately 1.65 cm, of low height and the high spheres. Almost a century later, Álvarez knew that he was not a man of low height, but a woman.

Translated from Spanish by the author.

DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed in this site do not necessarily represent nor do they necessarily reflect those of the various authors, editors, and owner of this site. Consequently, parties mentioned or implied cannot be held liable or responsible for such opinions.

This is to certify that this website, is NOT in any way related to, associated with or supports the Phoenician International Research Center,, the World Lebanese Cultural Union (WLCU) or any other website or organization foreign or domestic. Consequently, any claims of association with this website are null.


Additional references, sources and bibliography (Please don't write and ask me for references. You can find them at the end of article or in Bibliography)

Phoenicia, A Bequest Unearthed -- Phoenician Encyclopedia

© Copyright, All rights reserved by holders of original referenced materials and compiler on all pages linked to this site of: © Phoenician Canaanite Encyclopedia -- © Phoenician Encyclopedia -- © Punic Encyclopedia -- © Canaanite Encyclopedia -- © Encyclopedia Phoeniciana, Encyclopedia Punica, Encyclopedia Canaanitica.  

The material in this website was researched, compiled, & designed by Salim George Khalaf as owner, author & editor.
Declared and implied copyright laws must be observed at all time for all text or graphics in compliance with international and domestic legislation.

Contact: Salim George Khalaf, Byzantine Phoenician Descendent
Salim is from Shalim, Phoenician god of dusk, whose place was Urushalim/Jerusalem
"A Bequest Unearthed, Phoenicia" — Encyclopedia Phoeniciana

This site has been online for more than 22 years.
We have more than 420,000 words.
The equivalent of this website is about 2,200 printed pages.

Trade Mark
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20