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article image6,500-year-old 'Noah' skeleton found in museum basement

By George McGinn     Aug 6, 2014 in Science
Researchers from a Philadelphia museum found a human skeleton estimated to be 6,500 years old sitting in its basement untouched for 85 years, according to the Penn Museum.
The Penn Museum, an archeology museum from the University of Pennsylvania, had lost track of the skeleton's documentation, until it turned up this summer while the school was conducting a project to digitize all its records from a joint expedition with the British Museum from 1922-1934 in Iran.
The skeleton dates back to about 4500 BC, during the time described in the Bible.
According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, the skeleton was found in 1930 while excavating the Royal Cemetery of Ur. The dig was led by Sir Leonard Woolley.
The cemetery itself dates back to 2500 BC, and the skeleton, called "Noah," was found 40 feet further down.
Skull of the 4 500-year-old skeleton
Skull of the 4,500-year-old skeleton
The Penn Musem
Noah is 2,000 years older than any of the human remains found at the royal cemetery, according to an article from the Inquisitr.
At that depth, archaeologists found the skeleton in a deep layer of silt, or a flood stratum, is 400 miles long and 100 miles wide. It is believed to be proof that a massive quantity of water deposited it, similar to the Biblical story of the flood and in the Epic of Gilgamesh.
Woolley's team also found more than 48 other graves in the flood-stratum, and that area of Iraq was subject to a lot of floods.
Penn Museum stated Woolley discovered that the Ur site originally was a small island
Original photo from the excavation at the Royal Cemetery at Ur in Iran.
Original photo from the excavation at the Royal Cemetery at Ur in Iran.
Penn Museum
surrounded by marshland. Then a great flood covered the island and marshland and people continued to live at Ur, and it may have been that disaster that inspired the legends in the Bible and Gildamesh.
Skeleton finds that old, especially intact are a rarity. And the skeletons found there were considered unusually old, from an early era known as the Ubaid period (ca. 6500-3800 BC). Only one complete intact skeleton was intact and capable of being moved.
According to Dr. Janet Monge, Curator-in-Charge, Physical Anthropology Section of the Penn Museum, she said in a press release that: "a visual examination of the skeleton indicates it is that of a once well-muscled male, about age 50 or older. Buried fully extended with arms at his sides and hands over his abdomen, he would have stood 5' 8" to 5' 10" tall."
According to the Penn Museum press release:
"After Woolley uncovered the Royal Cemetery, he sought the earliest levels in a deep trench that became known as "The Flood Pit" because, around 40 feet down, it reached a layer of clean, water-lain silt."
"Though it was apparently the end of the cultural layers, Woolley dug still further. He found burials dug into the silt and eventually another cultural layer beneath. The silt, or "flood layer," was more than ten feet deep in places." the press release continued.
Dr. William Hafford, Ur Digitization Project Manager, noted that the skeleton called "Noah" lived after the flood, as he was buried in the silt caused by flood waters.
"Utnapishtim might be more appropriate, for he was named in the Gilgamesh epic as the man who survived the great flood," said Dr. Hafford.
More about archeo, human skeleton, Noah, Penn Museum, Gildamesh
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