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Mystery Of The Bar Hill Comb Solved

Jan Bartek – – When archaeologists discovered a curious object at Bar Hill close to Cambridge, UK, they understood it was an uncommon historical artifact, however precisely was it?

Examinations revealed that the unusual object was a comb relationship again to the Iron Age (750 B.C – 43 A.D). The comb is rectangular, with rounded edges and coarsely lower tooth. All in all, a reasonably commonplace Iron Age bone comb. However, additional research revealed one thing uncommon about this specific comb – it’s carved from a human cranium.

The Bar Hill comb. Credit: MOLA – Image compilation

It is likely to be stunning, however in Iron Age Britain, folks used human bone to make many alternative instruments. Other excavations in Cambridgeshire have uncovered instruments for cleansing animal skins created from human leg and arm bones. The Bar Hill comb might have been used for textile work and even combing hair. However, Finds Specialist Michael, shortly noticed one thing that blew this idea out of the water -there was no put on on the comb’s tooth. This means it was most likely by no means used as a comb. 

Archaeological proof from Europe tells us that the human head was essential to the Iron Age folks. They had been handled in a different way from different human bones. Across the continent, together with Britain, skulls had been collected and even displayed on the entrances to settlements. This might have taken place throughout occasions of battle as “headhunting trophies”.1 There are additionally examples from Britain of items of the human cranium with holes drilled into them. These might have been worn as amulets.  

Mystery Of The Bar Hill Comb Solved

Reconstruction of the Bar Hill Comb. Credit: MOLA

The Bar Hill comb had a round gap drilled into it. This means it might have been worn as an amulet.  

Although amulets created from the human cranium had been widespread in Iron Age Britain, the Bar Hill comb nonetheless stands out. In truth, it’s one among solely three Iron Age combs created from human skulls ever discovered. And the opposite two come from simply down the highway.  The first was discovered at excavations at Earith, 9 miles north of Bar Hill, within the Nineteen Seventies. The second, which has carved strains moderately than tooth, was discovered throughout excavations at Harston Mill, 10 miles south of Bar Hill, within the early 2000s. This suggests it might have been an Iron Age custom distinctive to this a part of Britain! 

According to a press assertion by MOLA, “conversations between Michael Marshall and MOLA Osteologist (human bone knowledgeable) Michael Henderson additionally sparked a brand new idea. It is feasible the tooth of the comb might characterize the pure sutures that be a part of sections of the human cranium.”  

“These carved teeth and lines would have highlighted the Bar Hill Comb’s origin, especially for local Iron Age communities who were familiar with skeletal remains. Its symbolism and significance would have been obvious to anyone who encountered it,” Michael Marshall explains additional.

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Instead of being only a sensible instrument, the Bar Hill comb might have been a strong object for native Iron Age group members. Perhaps the cranium belonged to an essential one that performed a task in the neighborhood even after their loss of life.

Mystery Of The Bar Hill Comb Solved

MOLA Finds Specialist Michael Marshall with the Bar Hill Comb. Credit: MOLA

More of those combs could also be revealed by future excavations throughout Cambridgeshire, however for now, many questions stay. We don’t have written proof from folks residing in Iron Age Cambridgeshire, so we’ll by no means know precisely why this was made. We can solely think about the ideas or emotions the amulet would have impressed within the individuals who held or wore it.

Written by Jan Bartek – Staff Writer


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