Archaeologists excavating a mud pit in York found a 2000-year-old skull with a hunk of brain still rattling inside.
After the skull was discovered in the muddy circular pit close to an Iron Age ditch, the archaeological trust’s finds officer, Rachel Cubitt, felt something move inside the cranium as she cleaned off soil. Peering through the base of the skull, she spotted an unusual yellow substance. She said: “It jogged my memory of a university lecture on the rare survival of ancient brain tissue. We gave the skull special conservation treatment as a result, and sought expert medical opinion.”
Believe it or not, this isn’t the first time ancient brains have been found in ancient skulls — some 8000-year-old skulls with brains in them were found in a peat bog in Florida 24 years ago — but it is the oldest preserved brain tissue ever found in Britain.
Why the brain survived is a mystery. All they found was the single skull and its contents: no skeleton, no other soft tissues, nothing but BRAAAINS. The pit was a mere 3 feet deep, so the skull wasn’t safely ensconced in miles of peat like the Florida ones.
They’ve done a CT scan (hence the piccy), but haven’t carbon dated it or done other chemical or soil analyses yet. We’ll learn more about the mysterious BRAAAINS once they have.