Though it sounds like something out of Conan The Barbarian
, researchers have announced that ice age bones in Gough's Cave seem to indicate ancient Britons
used skulls as cups
. Other bones in the site were also apparently cleaned of flesh and marrow, raising the grim possibility that a cannibalistic
meal accompanied whatever was in the skull cups.
The report concludes that the skull cups were some 14,700 years old, making them the oldest found and the only skull cups in the British Isles. But the use and purpose of the skulls is a matter of pure speculation, as is the fate of the cleaned bones' previous owners. From Reuters:
They may have been killed, butchered and eaten -- with the skull-cups just the end of this event -- or may have been part of the group who died and were eaten in a crisis situation, with the skull-cups created as a tribute to the dead.
"We simply do not know," [the researchers] said in a joint emailed response to questions.
Perhaps some might see this as embarrassing, with their ancestors displaying rather distasteful behavior. However, I find it best to take history in stride, and congratulate the British as confirming, archeologically, that their ancestors were totally badass.
(via Reuters, image via Wired)