April 1, 2015, London—It seems that with the public hoopla over the discovery of the remains of King Richard III beneath a car park in the U.K. and his subsequent reburial, many otherwise reluctant archaeologists have been emboldened to come forth with some astounding finds they have made over the last few years beneath car parks—including some just made near the small village of Camelotshire in the county of Rohan, in England.
In this instance, Dr. Iama Charla Tan of the University of Chainbridge and colleagues came across an unexpected combination of finds. Tan and her team discovered not just one, but three, complete skeletons while excavating beneath a car park where the county of Rohan has plans to construct a new visitors center and expanded car park for the Village Faire grounds. The team, consisting of experts from Chainbridge and members of Save Our History Before It’s Too Late, (a cultural resource management firm), was in its second phase of full excavation after undertaking test trenching a month before. The test trenching indicated the presence of potentially culturally significant finds.
Forensic analysis of the three skeletons show that all three skeletons, though not necessarily associated in terms of their placement, were male, two of them older adults and one a young adult. The taller of the three was accompanied by artifacts of a royal nature, including an ornate sword with the word “Excalibur” engraved in Old English across the hilt. The second skeleton was determined to be younger, with a less robust structure, accompanied by a pair of dark-rimmed “Harry Potter”-like spectacles, or eyeglasses, along with a small, polished tapered stick with unusual electrical properties. The third skeleton, the smallest and oldest, was perhaps the most unusual, featuring ‘hobbit-like’ feet much larger and thus seemingly incongruent with the body size and structure. Among the artifacts associated with this skeleton was a gold ring with markings, indecipherable to date.
“I was absolutely dumbfounded when we encountered the remains,” said Tan. “I nearly fell off my chair—but I wasn’t really sitting in it—I’m just using a figure of speech.”
A staff archaeologist hard at work with his trowel at the excavation square that contained the skeletal remains. In his left hand he holds a hand-held weeding fork, which was wrested from him before he incurred greater damage. Drawing courtesy Camelotshire Village Faire Excavation Project. Only drawings like this could be made available because none of the project cameras worked. Artwork by Guido Giuntini
“We have no certain clues yet regarding the identification of two of the skeletons,” continued Tan, “but the one with associated royal objects, including the sword featuring the word “Excalibur”, could very well be the remains of the legendary King Arthur himself, who many scholars have long believed is a literary creation but with some basis in a historical figure who lived before or at the beginning of medieval times.“
“But whatever conclusions we reach from our research here,” she added, “an important takeaway is the reinforcement of the value of doing archaeological investigations before we go head-long into any new construction,” she said in a lucid moment. “And using the right tools helps. We caught some of our archaeologists using garden trowels for digging. We corrected that right away.”
Dr. Iama Charla Tan, shown here, was enthusastically approached by one of our photographers while she was excavating at the dig site. She consented to the photo shoot. “People are surprised when they first see me because they expect me to be Vietnamese, Chinese, or something, because of my last name” she said. “But I’m not.” She graciously gave permission for the release of the photo. “For some reason, people really want to take my picture,” she added. Elizabeth, Wikimedia Commons
The scientists hope to find some answers on more precise dating of the finds within the next few months. Dr. Dumkopf, project Co-director and chief dating expert, says he hopes they can find any old Hallmark calendars mixed up with the finds. “These might pinpoint some dates,” he said. “Picture calendars won’t be necessary, if they just have the years printed on them….although I do like pictures—they’re fun.”
Moving forward, Tan had some words of advice for all archaeologists, particularly those who conduct research in U.K landscapes, where every inch of soil could overlie something of historical significance.
“Dig under car parks,” she said. “That’s where you’ll find the best loot.”
Cartoon illustrations created and provided by Guido Giuntini. See his website at http://theaccidentalcartoonist.wordpress.com
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