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The Amesbury Archer
Early Bronze Age, about 2400-2200
Found at Amesbury, Wiltshire, England
On a Friday morning in May 2002, archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology were excavating at Amesbury in advance of building work for a new school. They were expecting Roman remains, but were amazed to find instead a rich early Bronze Age grave.
Most people at this time were buried with just one pot and perhaps a copper knife, but this man was buried with a huge number of objects, including three copper knives, a stone for metalworking, two sandstone wristguards, sixteen arrowheads, five Beaker pots, an antler tool, four boars' tusks and two small gold hair or ear ornaments.
Study of the man's bones show that he was aged between 35 and 45. He had suffered an accident a few years before his death that had ripped his left knee cap off. As a result, he could not walk properly and was in constant pain.
But his teeth provided the biggest surprise. Measurement of the oxygen isotopes in the man's teeth show that he did not grow up in England, but somewhere in central Europe, perhaps Switzerland, Austria or south Germany. What remains a mystery is why he came to England and what he did here. The man was certainly important and was in the vicinity of Stonehenge when the famous stone monument was being built. Did he have something to do with its construction?
From the collection of Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum
Richard Hobbs, Treasure: Finding our past (London, The British Museum Press, 2003)