|24 December 2014
Chichester skeleton with unusual dagger analysed
Tests have only now revealed that a virtually-complete 4,000-year-old Bronze Age skeleton found in 1989 on farmland in West Sussex, around 100 kilometres southwest of London near the south coast of England, is probably that of a warrior chieftain. His background has long been a source of intrigue to historians as the skeleton was found with an extremely rare and valuable bronze dagger - one of only seven ornate rivet-studded daggers ever found in the UK, and one of the earliest known there.
Technological advances have enabled experts from across the UK to analyse his teeth, bones and the dagger to help piece together some of the details of who he was. Named for the location of his finding, Racton Man appears to have grown up in the region where he was buried, and was at least 180 centimetres tall and over 45 years old when he died sometime between 2300 and 2150 BCE. Wounds to his upper arm made around the time of his death suggest that he perished during a fight. He was found to be displaying signs of spinal degeneration, and had suffered from a chronic sinus infection as well as an abscess and tooth decay.
Mr Kenny, Chichester District Council's archaeologist, described the results as staggering. "This would have been right at the start of the introduction of this type of technology and would have been one of the first bronze daggers in existence in this country. Its design is distinctively British, but of greater significance is the fact that it dates to the transition from copper to bronze metallurgy. This dagger is bronze and so this item would have been incredibly rare at the time. Its colour and keen hard edge would have distinguished it from the more common copper objects in use."
Edited from Belfast Telegraph (15 December 2014), BBC News (16 December 2014)
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