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12 August 2010
Scientists give Gristhorpe Man a face and voice

A team of academics claims to have solved the mystery of what is believed to be Britain's best-preserved early Bronze Age skeleton. The remains of Gristhorpe Man have been examined by a team of 12 researchers at the University of Bradford while the Rotunda Museum in Scarborough, where they are displayed, was refurbished. The skeleton of the Bronze Age man, thought to be a warrior chief, was discovered in Gristhorpe, near Filey (North Yorkshire, England), in 1834, and boiled in horse glue to preserve it.
     Dr Alan Ogden, an osteologist who teaches post-graduates at Bradford University, has completed what is thought to be a first in forensic archaeology by reconstructing Gristhorpe Man's face and making him 'talk' using computer software, while forensic examinations have turned up a raft of information about the man's history. Dr Ogden said: "The bones are so well preserved that we thought they could actually be a Victorian fake. Firstly because he is very tall for that period and also he has surprisingly little wear to his teeth." He said the skeleton only survived because it was buried in a tree trunk. It is complete except for two tiny bones in its feet.
     Dr Ogden added: "We have done a lot of chemical tests on his teeth and they indicated that he spent his life in the Yorkshire region. We can tell he ate a lot of meat; other than a few rib fractures he had been in good health all his life, and he lived until about 60." The man's likely cause of death was ascertained by a CT scan - he had a brain tumour growing on the left side of his skull. "He was buried unusually," said Dr Ogden, "And the reasons they were buried this way was to honour them, and the other reason was to make sure they didn't come back."
     Dr Ogden said he hoped his facial reconstruction and speaking innovation would make people realise that the skeleton belonged to a human being. The facial reconstruction and the remains of the Gristhorpe Man are back on display at The Rotunda Museum, which is open from Tuesday to Sunday between 10am and 5pm.

Sources: The Press (4 August 2010), Telegraph & Argus (6 August 2010)

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