AN ANCIENT skull fragment found in the River Thames belonged to a young man who lived more than 5,600 years ago.
It was discovered on the South Bank by a mudlarker – a treasure hunter who scavenges in rivers and mud for hidden valuables.
London Museum The frontal bone of an ancient man’s skull was found in the River Thames
Archaeologists say the fragment is the frontal bone of a skull that belonged to an 18-year-old man who died in 3,600 BC.
This makes it the oldest example of human remains ever fished out of the Thames.
Mudlarker Martin Bushell found the skull in September and immediately reported it to the Metropolitan Police.
Fearing a potential murder investigation, Martin said he was relieved when radiocarbon dating revealed the man had died thousands of years ago.
london museum The skull would have belonged to an 18-year-old man
science museum The man lived in Neolithic Britain (artists impression)
“Luckily it turned out I’m not a 5,600-year-old murderer,” he told The Times.
The mystery man lived in Britain during the Neolithic era, a time when Stonehenge was still under construction.
Little is known about these ancient Britons, but it is thought they were only just getting to grips with farming practices as they began to shake off the hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
The remains will go on display at the London Museum tomorrow alongside other Neolithic finds made in the Thames.
london museum An archaeologist displays the fragment of skull
Experts hope the skull bone will help shed light on life in Neolithic Britain.
“This is an incredibly significant find,” said Dr Rebecca Redfern, Curator of Human Osteology at the Museum of London.
“The Thames is such a rich source of history for us and we are constantly learning from the finds that wash up on the foreshore.”
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Archaeologists have recently made a number of fascinating ancient finds.
Last month, scientists found what they claimed is the “first beer brewed in the UK” from 400BC during widening work on the A14.
A plethora of new archaeological sites were uncovered during last summer’s heatwave as dry landscapes revealed hidden treasures beneath Britain’s fields and parks.
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