Two skeletons discovered on a remote Scottish island have been at the centre of a mystery for 10 years.
Considered to be the first evidence that the ancient Britons practiced mummification of the dead the discovery was significant in itself, but on further investigation one of the skeletons had another surprise in store - it appeared to be comprised of bones from more than one individual. Now a new study conducted using modern DNA analyzing techniques has revealed that the skeleton is in fact made up of parts from at least six individuals who died centuries apart. So why would the people of the time dissect and re-assemble the remains ?
Researchers believe that this may have been done to help demonstrate the unity between families, with people living for long periods under the same roof as the remains of their ancestors. "The merging of their identities may have been a deliberate act, perhaps designed to amalgamate different ancestries into a single lineage," said Professor Mike Parker Pearson who was involved in the discovery.
"Carbon dating of the bones in the male skeleton revealed while the jaw came from someone who had died around 1440BC-1260BC, the rest of the skull came from a man who died some 100 years earlier."
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