Iron Age burial within a whalebone discovered

An almost toothless jaw was found within a large carved whalebone vertebra discovered within the ruins of an Iron Age broch on Orkney, northern Scotland.

The whalebone in which human remains were found (by UHI Archaeology Institute)
The whalebone in which human remains were found (by UHI Archaeology Institute)

The jaw with two teeth left was discovered earlier this year during excavations of a broch – an Iron Age drystone hollow-walled roundhouse, typical for Scottish islands and Highlands. Now the experts were able to reveal more detail about the individual. Radiocarbon dating placed the time of death around 120 and 240 AD, during the Scottish Atlantic Middle Iron Age. The jaw belongs to a person of some considerable age for the period, perhaps 50, but he may well be several decades older than that.

Human jawbone found at the site (by UHI Archaeology Institute)
Human jawbone found at the site (by UHI Archaeology Institute)

The person seems to have led an active working life judging by the condition of his teeth. The jawbone had grown over most of the sockets of the missing teeth showing that these teeth had been lost during life. The experts state the  the surviving two teeth were quite substantially worn down. The toot loss might have occur by using the mouth as a third hand during everyday occupations.

A whalebone found at the site (by UHI Archaeology Institute)
A whalebone found at the site (by UHI Archaeology Institute)

(after UHI Archaeology Institute & BBC News)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *