While many think of archaeology as being boring, without it we wouldn’t be able to figure out our past. And while many shows made it sound cool (mostly be getting space Egyptians involved), the real life part was still just as dull. That is, until you actually find something that changes the whole world’s view on a topic.
Shaking up the world of archaeology once again, Ireland’s ancient history is rewritten by a bear bone. By using carbon dating, a team of researchers proved that a bear was slaughtered by humans in Ireland some 2,500 years before anybody was thought to roam the lands.
Bear knee cap
As it so often happens with fossils, the knee bone belonging to bear found in Ireland was lost for more than a century in a box inside the National Museum of Ireland. Discovered in County Clare, the bone – a patella, to be more exact – presented evidence that the animal had been slaughtered by humans.
Even if the bone had been found in the museum sooner, not much could have been discerned from it without the help of modern carbon dating techniques. The dating places the slaughter of the bear some 12,500 years ago, about 2,500 years earlier than the first people were believed to settle in the area.
Luckily for them, the team led by the National Museum of Ireland’s Dr. Ruth Carden had financial support from the Royal Irish Academy. In order to make sure that the findings were correct, two additional carbon datings were performed on the bone.
The University of Oxford and the Chrono Center both performed their own tests, and both prestigious groups came up with the same results. The bone had indeed been slaughtered by humans about 2,500 years prior to what was believed to be the first people settling in Ireland.
Back in the ‘70s, the oldest evidence of a human presence in Ireland was discovered in County Derry at Mount Sandel. The island was occupied since the Mesolithic period, around 8,000 BC. This had placed humans in the area some 10,000 years ago.
The knee bone, however, offers irrefutable evidence that people had occupied the lands way before that, since 10,500 BC, in the Paleolithic era. Not only does the finding basically rewrite Irish archaeology, but it opens new doors to both a new, previously unknown history, as well as to further research the museum in the hopes of finding more such troves of knowledge.
Image source: Wikimedia