Tuesday, November 2, 2010

An Iron Age Skull

A skull dug from an Iron Age pit near York, England two years ago made the news briefly because it still contained bits of brain tissue -- Britain's Oldest Brain, the tabloids dubbed it. I am more interested in what it tells us about how this man died. He was hanged, and then his head was cut off and buried separately from his body in an area where other unusual discoveries have been made:

“There are a lot of very unusual pit fillings, which suggest this might have been some sort of ritual environment,” Dr O’Connor said.

They include the headless body of a deer; some antlers; and some pits with a single wooden stake in each. “They could have been used to mark the pit.”

I have no doubt that this man was sacrificed to the gods. Possibly he was captured in war, or was some kind of criminal. If his death did not appease any divine beings, it has at least brought great joy to future archaeologists.

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