Brain found in Britain 2600 years old, man killed in a brutal manner



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Brain found in Britain 2600 years old, man killed in a brutal manner



The oldest British brain is 2,600 years old and belonged to a man from the Iron Age, who was most likely struck in the head before being cut off.

The skull where this brain was found was discovered in Heslington in 2008 and was found by researchers at York University in an Iron Age archeological site. As they were cleaning the skull, they realized there was much more to it than ordinary dust, CNN reports.



“To my surprise, I saw a light yellow sponge mass in my skull. I haven't seen anything like this before,” says Rachel Cubitt of the York Archaeological Organization.

An essential discovery

It was soon determined that this was an extremely well preserved brain, so it was sent for further study. He was found to have belonged to a man who lived between 482 and 673 BCE, at the beginning of the Iron Age.

Weather is usually not mild to soft tissue, so brains are rarely found, unless they are intentionally preserved, as is skin and hair. Eighty percent of the brain is made up of water, which contributes to the rapid breakdown process, which is why it is a miracle that this brain has survived.

The 2,600-year-old 'Heslington brain', discovered in 2008 near York, was probably well-preserved due to tightly folded brain proteins, finds a new ice study by Dr Axel Petzold @UCLIoN @UCLBrainScience https://t.co / CnsMH8vILW

– UCL News (@uclnews) January 8, 2020

Now a new study from University College London has revealed why this brain has survived to this day. Axel Petzold, who led the study with his colleagues, found that both filaments (chains of proteins) are there, which is why he believes that proteins have contributed to brain conservation.

“Proteins remain very stable over time, if stored well. It was interesting to find that protein aggregates are more stable than DNA,” Petzold says.

Typically, these proteins are more present in the brain, known as white matter. But in the case of this brain it is different – they are located in the outer area, in the gray matter. This means that the autolysis process is impeded from the outside, so the proteins have contracted and thus been able to conserve the brain. Compared to normal brain structure, the Heslington brain is shrunken and compacted.

Researchers have found no evidence of any artificial attempt to preserve this brain and believe some acid has penetrated it and prevented the enzymes from breaking down.

“The way this man died or the way he was buried may have contributed to brain conservation,” Petzold concludes.

Brain found in Britain 2600 years old, man killed in a brutal manner

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