Archeology Headlines of December 2008

From a truly great ancient discovery to the remains of a notorious volcano, the December headlines regarding archeological finds do not disappoint. In this article, you will learn just how spectacular a recent find in Britain is when it comes to using your noggin.

2,000-Year-Old Brain Found in Britain

It’s not every day when you come across an ancient skull with an extremely well preserved brain. British archeologists have discovered what is one of the most unusual surprises of the year. The oldest ever discovered brain in Britain is calculated to be more than 2,000 years old. The find has people amazed that such matter could survive over the years and stay intact. It’s truly one of those freak acts of nature.

The skull was apparently the severed remains of an individual living before the Roman invasion of Britain. During a dig at the University of York (located in northern England) this fall , the skull was uncovered in a muddy pit. It wasn’t until a person assigned to clean the skull thought that something might still be inside the cranium. She noticed that it felt like something was moving inside. Peering into the base of the skull, she noted an odd substance inside , yellow in color. At the York Hospital, scans revealed that brain tissue was indeed inside.

It isn’t definitely how much of the brain was able to survive over time, but it seems that the tissue changed from its original form in the passing years. While some parts of the brain have been easier to identify, additional research is needed to learn more. The answers regarding the inside of the skull may come to light, but scientists may never learn why the skull was buried separate from its body. Some theories that have emerged include that it was part of a human sacrifice or that it was involved in a ritual burial.

All in all, it is quite rare to find a brain where soft tissues were able to survive for so long.

Remains Can Tell a Story”¦

Can analyzing skeletons left after a devastating catastrophe tell a story of their final moments? This is what Italian researchers wish to accomplish when they examined 13 skeletons and various layers of volcanic deposits hailing from Pompeii. With a little bit of luck, they hope to reconstruct the last hours of a family that lost their lives with Mount Vesuvius decided to erupt.

In a recent international conference that took place in Naples, researchers reported their findings to an audience that came to discuss ancient DNA. When it comes to ancient Roman towns, it is the home of Iulius Polybius that is widely studied. He once lived on the main street of Pompeii known as Via dell’Abbondanza. Not only has the home allowed researchers to explore the diversity of archeology in the region, but also sheds light on the revealing sections of Pompeii’s volcanic deposit.