Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Speaking of skulls

I get a lot of mammal material from a guy at a show in France. It's mostly mammoth tusks and bones, but I sometimes get woolly rhino, giant elk and others. It's dredged up by Dutch trawlers fishing for sole in the North Sea. Around 60,000 to 100,000 years ago there was a land bridge from mainland Europe to Britain, and most of this material dates from then. There's occasionally butcher marks on the bones, signs of human activity.

One year on his stall he had a human skull, which wasn't as expensive as I might have thought. So I bought it, without really knowing why. Impulse skull purchase.

It turned out you're not allowed to sell body parts on eBay, but I got a call from a guy saying he had a friend who was likely to be very interested in taking a look at it. The friend turned out to be studying the migratory patterns of mesolithic humans and wanted to get it checked out for pollen samples, etc, as well as getting a carbon dating reading to see if it was mesolithic. There was a fair chance, given it had been dredged up with mammoth bones, that it was of the same age.
He flew up, collected the skull, and flew back the same day, taking it with him. I'd have loved to have been with him at the airport, going throught the scanner, but he didn't have any problems.

There was quite a wait while all the tests were being done, and it travelled around a little as different specialists were visited.

Eventually, it turned out the skull was only around 420 years old or so. Some poor fisherman or sailor, maybe. This apparently meant it didn't merit a personal delivery, so I got a delivery of a head in a box not long after. Just like Brad Pitt.

1 comment:

Christopher Walker said...

Love the blog! Keep it up...Maria x