Bronze Age burials in Kent mainly Europeans

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A 3,000-year-old burial site has been found to contain the remains of migrants from as far away as Scandinavia and the western Mediterranean.

Bronze Age burials in Kent mainly Europeans
Burial with chalk fragment near mouth [Credit: Wessex Archaeology]

Archaeologists conducting a study of Bronze Age residents found three distinct groups in the burial pits at Cliffs End Farm, near Pegwell Bay, Kent.

Using analysis of oxygen and strontium isotopes in tooth enamel the researchers found while one group had been born locally, the other two groups came from much further afield.

A total of 25 people, aged between 6 and 55 at the time of their death, were found in the pits, according to The Times.

The isotopes, which are derived from drinking water, can be used to identify where the individual was living at the time their tooth enamel formed.

Bronze Age burials in Kent mainly Europeans
Human remains in a pit [Credit: Wessex Archaeology]

The researchers found a group of nine spent their lives in the local area, while eight were believed to have been born in what is now southern Norway or Sweden.

Another five came from the western Mediterranean, possibly Spain or even North Africa.

Mike Pitts, editor of British Archaeology, which will publish the research today, said: ‘This is the first burial site of its type that we’ve found and it reveals that Britain was always part of a bigger landscape that includes most of Europe.’

Mr Pitts said the site at Cliffs End Farm was unusual as the majority of Bronze Age burials were cremations.

Bronze Age burials in Kent mainly Europeans
A total of 25 people, aged between 6 and 55 at the time of their death, were
found in the pits at Pegwell Bay [Credit: Wessex Archaeology]

The burials at this site however, which range from the early Bronze Age to the middle Iron Age, a period of 900 years, had seen people buried with animals in carefully posed positions.

One woman, in her 50s, is thought to have been a ‘willing sacrifice’, killed by sword blows to her head.

Pippa Bradley, from Wessex Archaeology, which carried out the excavation, said: ‘With seven of 13 late Bronze Age individuals analysed, two of five early Iron Age and five of seven middle Iron Age, all showing evidence for immigration, this could be characterised as a mortuary site dominated by migrants.’

Last month, MailOnline reported how the first recorded case of child abuse in history was believed to have been uncovered in Egypt.

Bronze Age burials in Kent mainly Europeans
Probable sword cuts to back of skull [Credit: Wessex Archaeology]

Archaeologists said the 2 to 3-year-old child, known only as ‘burial 159’, showed signs of having repeatedly had her bones broken, and being shaken repeatedly.

The find is believed to be the oldest record of child abuse. Experts said it may stem from an Egyptian belief that children had to be ‘toughened up’ as they grow.

Source: The Daily Mail [June 05, 2013]

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