The 2,000 Year Old Human Skeleton Found By Accident On A Construction Site

When it comes to archaeology, human bones are some of the most interesting finds because they provide anatomical clues about our past. While it is exciting to find fossilized human bones that date back millions of years, more recent discoveries still surprise archeologists — especially when they are discovered by accident. For instance, the discovery of a complete human skeleton at a construction site in Suffolk, United Kingdom, according to Mildenhall Air Force Base (MAFB). 

The find occurred in 2007 on land that was being cleared for a housing development for the ​​Royal Air Force base at Mildenhall. Archeologists are often called to work on areas before construction begins in this area because it is close to another excavation site where other ancient Roman remains were uncovered. An archeologist with the Suffolk County Council Archaeology Service (SCCAS) was digging in what was believed to be an old ditch and hit something hard with a shovel that turned out to be a human skull, MAFB reports.

Experts don't know how the human died

It didn't take long to dig up the bones. In fact, after a day of cautiously digging down about six feet, workers were able to recover the complete skeleton, per MAFB. Experts didn't think the area was a grave because the bones were not laid out straight. Instead, one arm was out to the side. In addition, there was no marker indicating that it was a burial site, according to Stars and Stripes.

As far as the age of the skeleton, archeologists think that it is about 2,000 years old based on the age of other items found in the area. At the time, experts were not clear if the skeleton was male or female, and they were also unable to determine a cause of death. John Sims, who made the discovery, had only been working with the SCCAS for about six weeks when he found the bones. He named the skeleton "Yorrick," referring to the skull in Shakespeare's "Hamlet," Stars and Stripes reports.

It's uncommon to find a complete skeleton

Project officer John Carver said that while archeologists have found bones and other medieval remains in and around the area before, it was unusual to find a complete skeleton. Other items found in the area include pottery, a Roman coin, three broaches, part of another human skull, and a belt buckle. As far as Yorrick goes, Carver said that the bones would be added to the SCCAS' collection to undergo more study, according to Stars and Stripes. 

The area around the excavation site is rich with ancient finds. Discoveries from a nearby site include a building that might have been a storehouse, per MAFB. At Lakenheath Air Force Base, which is located not too far from Mildenhall Air Force Base, archeologists found the remains of a 4,000-year-old skeleton in 2005. Previously, in 1998, they uncovered an Anlgo-Saxon warrior along with his sword, spear, and horse, per MAFB.