1,500-Year-Old Jewelry Found Next to Human Rib in Kent

March 4th, 2017 by

gold-jewelry-india-middle-eastBurying the dead with their prized possessions was, in many corners of the world of antiquity, a common funerary practice. So do we as modern treasure seekers still have permission to be creeped out when our newly discovered treasure is accompanied by skeletal remains? One man in Stowting, Kent, located in southeast England, may have to wrestle with this question after stumbling upon a great hoard of ancient jewelry . . . and a human rib.

The hoard is believed to date back to the 6th century BCE. According to the Treasure Act of 1996, any artifact that is over 300 years old and made of precious metal can be considered treasure. So the various pieces, having been struck from gold, silver, and copper 1,500 years ago, definitely fit the bill.

Among the hoard were brooches; one of the brooches was of a copper alloy while the other consisted of silver and garnet keystones. A silver slip-knot bracelet and a gold disc pendant, styles of jewelry popularized between the 5th and 7th centuries, were also found.

The estimated value of the hoard has not yet been determined, so there is no telling what monetary gains await the finder and landowner. One reward for reporting the find, though, is avoiding the harsh penalties given for flouting the Treasure Act. That is because those who do not report a find within two weeks can receive up to three months incarceration and a fine of £5,000, or $6,139.

The hoard will undoubtedly appeal to those in academia for its historical value. Administrators with the Maidstone Museum hope to acquire the pieces for inclusion in future exhibits.

The human rib can be explained as having been part of the “typical [Kentish burial assemblage] of a high-status female . . . from the mid to late 6th century,” said Katrina Hepburn, an assistant coroner for southeast and central Kent.

Peculiar, though, is the fact the rib had a piece of copper alloy lodged in it. The reason for this continues to elude archaeologists and anthropologists, but has invited immense speculation.

 

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