700-Year-Old Skull Raises Questions

July 13, 2009 at 9:12 am | Posted in News | 1 Comment

A human skull found on an Australian beach is turning into one of this year’s greatest scavenging mysteries. According to the Courier Mail, the skull — which was “found washed up on Mona Vale Beach” near Sydney “10 months ago is an astonishing 700 years old and is not of Aboriginal origin.”

The skull clearly appeared old, and “radiocarbon-dating carried out in New Zealand has determined the skull dates from around 1300 AD. During early investigations, anthropologists ruled out the possibility of it being an indigenous skull, but its age predates European arrival on the east coast by 500 years.”

So if Europeans weren’t in or near Australia circa 1300, and it isn’t Aboriginal, whose could it be? Were sailors from Asia able to reach this area? Why did the skull take seven hundred years to wash up?

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  1. I was one of the detectives investigating this skull. Firstly, it was not “washed up” which was apparent from the very outset because the bony ridges showed no abrasion from either sand and rock should it have been in the water for any length of time. Secondly, the “sutures” (the cracks appearing in the plates of the skull-cap) had not yet joined together. When we are born the sutures are separated to allow passage through the birth canal and as we age they join and become solid, thus indicating age. Thirdly, this was also apparent by the fact that the palate had holes for both adult and “milk” teeth, the latter sealing up over time. Undescended molars indicated a child’s age of about 6-8 years. The skull itself was brown with pale sections indicating that it had been stored in darkness for a considerable time, then exposed to light, indicating that it may have served some scientific purpose.

    The teeth appeared to have a pink tinge to their cutting edge which may have indicated sub-petechial bleeding in the gums, itself indicative of strangling. However, this discolouration was found to be attributed to dentine as the enamel of the teeth had already worn away. There was no evidence of flattening associated with chewing as is commonly observed in ancient adult teeth. The palate itself was narrower than is apparent in aboriginal remains of someone about the same size, and the teeth were at more of a right-angle to the upper jaw and less forward than aboriginal remains.

    While being examined a small piece of bone fell from the skull and this was tested, revealing that it had been held in place with glue.
    The forensic examination indicated that the child was a female, who died about 700 years ago, and had lived on a diet consisting mainly of seafood. It would appear that her skull was brought out to Australia as part of a collection. Someone retained possession of it, perhaps as a family curiousity, until it was cast onto the beach at high tide, as a prank, bearing in mind that it coincided with final exams for our high schools.


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