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15 August 2003
Amesbury archer on display

It is now over a year since archaeologists, working on a routine excavation on the site of a proposed new school in Wiltshire (England), unearthed the richest Bronze Age burial yet found in Britain, just three miles from Stonehenge.
     From August 16 at Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum, the public will get its first glimpse of the more than 100 artefacts discovered alongside the skeleton of the 'Amesbury Archer'. From copper knives and pottery, to flint arrowheads, wristguards and gold hair ornaments, the new display will offer a unique snapshot of life 4000 years ago.
     The buria, found in May 2002, dates back to 2300 BCE and contained a male skeleton and a quantity of grave goods that suggested he was a warrior or even some kind of king. Because of the proximity, both in space and time, to the ancient monument, some experts dubbed the archer, 'The King of Stonehenge', suggesting he may have been involved in its construction, though others disagree.
     However, the significance of the find, said to be the richest of its type yet found in the whole of Northern Europe, is in no doubt. Not only did the grave contain the earliest datable copper and gold objects found in this country, but oxygen isotope analysis of the archer's teeth and bones indicates that he originally came from central Europe, possibly the Alps. This is the first evidence we have of this type that shows people were coming to Britain from mainland Europe at this time.
     Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum Director, Peter Saunders said the finds will temporarily be displayed on their own, before being joined on a permanent basis by the human remains next year. The finds will be on display in Salisbury until September 30, after which they will join a major touring exhibition, Treasure: Finding Our Past, at the British Museum in November. Following a period at the National Museum of Wales, they will then be brought together with the human remains in a permanent display back in Salisbury from September next year.

Source: Article by David Prudames for 24 Hour Museum (12 August 2003)

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