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Human Treasure Trove of Archaeology Unearthed: Family of Medieval Skeletons Beneath Scotland

Treasure Trove of Archaeology Unearthed: Family of Medieval Skeletons Beneath Scotland

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First Posted: Apr 30, 2013 11:44 AM EDT
Skull
Scientists have taken a look at a skeleton of a man that lived 2,330 years ago, and have discovered new information about the evolution of humans and our earliest common genetic ancestry. (Not Pictured) (Photo : Flickr/Joshua Veitch-Michaelis )

Researchers have unearthed a veritable treasure trove of archaeology--a family of skeletons buried beneath a parking lot in Edinburgh, Scotland. The find comes after archaeologists discovered a knight buried nearby, which leads them to believe that this new find is actually the remains of a family crypt.

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Around the 13th century, a knight was buried at the site with a carved sandstone slab, decorated with markers of nobility--a Calvary cross and a sword. At the time, the area wasn't a parking lot. Instead, it was the Blackfriars Monastery, an area that was first designated to the church by Alexander II in 1230. Yet the monastery wouldn't stand for long. It was eventually destroyed by Reformers in 1559.

After the monastery was destroyed, the 17th-century Royal High School and the 16th-century Old High School were built on the site. Eventually, it was paved over as a parking lot for the University of Edinburgh's archaeology department.

Yet now, researchers have found even more skeletons in the area--one partial skeleton and seven complete skeletons, including one infant and one adult female. Archaeologists discovered the remains behind a wall in what they suspect may have been an ancient family burial crypt.

"These new findings look likely to be the possible relations of the suspected medieval knight we found earlier this year," said Ross Murry, a former student at the University of Edinburgh, in a statement. "The skull of the skeleton found immediately beneath the location of the knight looks like that of a female and the remains found on the other side of the ornate slab belong to an infant from the same period."

Yet it's likely that these aren't the only remains in the area. The researchers expect that there are even more skeletons beneath the parking lot, waiting to be unearthed. The archaeologists plan to continue excavating the site while they analyze the bones and teeth of the recently discovered remains in order to determine how they're related and how old they are.

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