Archaeologists have discovered what they say is the oldest surviving human brain in Britain, dating back at least 2,000 years to the Iron Age. The remains of the brain were found in a skull unearthed during excavations at York University in northern England, a statement from the university said Friday.
The dig site was described by investigators from York Archaeological Trust as being in an extensive prehistoric farming landscape of fields, track ways and buildings dating back to at least 300 BC.
They believe the skull, which was found on its own in a muddy pit, may have been a ritual offering.
Rachel Cubitt, who was taking part in the dig, described how she felt something move inside the cranium as she cleaned the soil-covered skull's outer surface. Peering through the base of the skull, she spotted an unusual yellow substance.
"It jogged my memory of a university lecture on the rare survival of ancient brain tissue. We gave the skull special conservation treatment as a result, and sought expert medical opinion," she said in a statement on York University's Web site.
A sophisticated CT scanner at York Hospital was then used to produce startlingly clear images of the skull's contents.