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18 February 2018
Decapitated skull is likely evidence of Iron Age ritual sacrifice

The head of a middle-aged woman who likely died more than 2,200 years ago during the Iron Age - and may have been decapitated as part of a prehistoric ritual - has been found in England.
     A man named Roger Evans found the skull while walking his dog by the Sowy River in Somerset in March. After the skull was discovered, the government worked to get the water levels down to see if there was anything else hiding out, and they didn't find any other human remains. But there were wooden posts; samples are currently been analyzed.
     The water levels have been raised again "to provide a measure of protection to the timber posts and any other archaeological remains still in the channel," according to a press release from the U.K. Environment Agency.
     The life of thar ancient woman, who archaeologists believe was older than 45 when she died, appeared to have been difficult by modern standards. She had severe gum disease and had lost a few teeth and wore down the rest. She also had serious arthritis in her jaw. "The woman's head appears to have been deliberately removed at, or shortly after death," the press release stated.
     Severed heads "are not an unusual discovery for the Iron Age, but the placement of the skull in a wetland beside a wooden structure is very rare, possibly reflecting a practice of making ritual offerings in watery environments," according to Richard Brunning, an archaeologist with the South West Heritage Trust. Indeed, another Iron Age skull found in York nearly 10 years ago was also thought to have been a ritual sacrifice; that skull came with some brain tissue still intact.

Edited from Newsweek (23 January 2018)

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