She is called “The Harper Road Woman” because her remains was unearthed in Southwark, South London, in 1979, and she is believed to have lived in Roman London between 50 to 70 AD - Mail Online reports.
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But what makes the discovery of these remains spectacular is the fact that she was a Roman woman who possibly lived in London when it was known as Londinium by the Romans, but she had male genes and chromosomes.
The Harper Road Woman is believed to have been a wealthy Roman woman judging by the fact that she was buried in a wooden coffin, had Roman pottery and other items such as a flagon, bronze mirror, and a necklace at her feet – suggesting she must have been highly-placed in the society.
The remains of this woman with others are being analyzed by scientists from the Museum of London, the University of Durham, and McMaster University in Canada. Her skeletal remains show she was a woman because of the shape of the pelvis – the female pelvic bones possess broader sciatic notch than those of males.
It is not clear why this woman had male chromosomes even though she had clear female characteristics, but scientists have started to proffer analysis of what could have actually happened to her.
A few women suffer from Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS) which gives them male genetic sequences or chromosomes even though they are female. This disorder occurs in the womb during sexual development. It is also possible for some women to have a vagina that is not routed to a uterus in their womb, having internal testicles instead.
Some women also have gonadal dysgenesis, a rare intersex condition that occurs when an individual is clearly female but with ovaries that won’t work. And some other women have Collective Evolution syndrome, where a woman carries the cells of a baby son in her bloodstream her entire life.
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For The Harper Road Woman, it is believed she was a Roman born in London and may have lived through the Roman invasion of Britain and seen the Boudican Revolt and the following destruction of the city.