Most historians use paper evidence, such as letters, documents and photographs, but archaeologists learn from the objects left behind by the humans of long ago, like bones and ceramics.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the article and do the exercise.

Archaeology, like many academic words, comes from Greek and means, more or less, ‘the study of old things’. So, it is really a part of the study of history. However, most historians use paper evidence, such as letters, documents, paintings and photographs, but archaeologists learn from the objects left behind by the humans of long ago. Normally, these are the hard materials that don’t decompose or disappear very quickly – things like human bones and skeletons, objects made from stone and metal, and ceramics.

Sometimes, archaeologists and historians work together. Take, for example, the study of the Romans, who dominated the Mediterranean area and much of Europe two thousand years ago. We know a lot about them from their writing, and some of their most famous writers are still quoted in English. We also know a lot about them from what they made, from their coins to their buildings. Archaeologists have worked on Roman remains as far apart as Hadrian’s Wall in the north of England and Leptis Magna in Libya.

Of course, for much of human history, there are no written documents at all. Who were the first humans, and where did they come from? This is a job for the archaeologists, who have found and dated the bones and objects left behind. From this evidence, they believe that humans first appeared in Africa and began moving to other parts of the world about 80,000 years ago. The movement of our ancestors across the planet has been mapped from their remains – humans went to Australia about 70,000 years ago, but have been in South America for just 15,000 years. The evidence of archaeology has helped to show the shared origin and history of us all.

It is very unusual to find anything more than the hard evidence of history – normally, the bacteria in the air eat away at soft organic materials, like bodies, clothes and things made of wood. Occasionally, things are different.

A mind-boggling discovery

In 1984, two men made an amazing discovery while working in a bog called Lindow Moss, near Manchester in the north of England. A bog is a very wet area of earth, with a lot of plants growing in it. It can be like a very big and very thick vegetable soup – walk in the wrong place and you can sink and disappear forever. After hundreds of years, the dead plants can compress together and make ‘peat’, which is like soil, but is so rich in energy that it can be burned on a fire, like coal.

The men were cutting the peat when one of them saw something sticking out – a human foot! Naturally, the men called the police, who then found the rest of the body. Was it a case of murder? Possibly – but it was a death nearly two thousand years old. The two men had found a body from the time of the Roman invasion of Celtic Britain. Despite being so old, this body had skin, muscles, hair and internal organs – the scientists who examined him were able to look inside the man’s stomach and find the food that he had eaten for his last meal!

Why was this man so well preserved? It was because he was in a very watery environment, safe from the bacteria that need oxygen to live. Also, the water in the bog was very acidic. The acid preserved the man’s skin in the way that animal skin is preserved for leather coats and shoes.

How did he die? Understandably, archaeologists and other scientists wanted to know more about the person that they called ‘Lindow Man’. His hands and fingernails suggested that he hadn’t done heavy manual work in his life – he could have been a rich man or a priest. They found that he hadn’t died by accident. The forensic examination revealed that he had been hit on the head three times and his throat was cut with a knife. Then a rope was tightened around his neck. As if that wasn’t enough, he was then thrown into the bog.

So, Lindow Man was killed using three different methods, when just one would have been sufficient. The archaeologists believe that he was sacrificed to three different Celtic gods, called Taranis, Esus and Teutates. Each god required a different form of death. A sacrifice to Teutates required drowning, which is why he was found in the bog. Nobody can tell the complete story of Lindow Man. The Romans said that the Celts made sacrifices every May to make sure that there was enough food that year. Was he a typical ‘routine’ sacrifice?

An archaeologist called Anne Ross has suggested that Lindow Man was a special case. Why would an important man be sacrificed to three gods? Perhaps it was in response to the Roman invasion of Britain, which started in the year AD 43, close to the time that Lindow Man died. He might have been killed to gain the help of the gods against the Romans. It didn’t work. The Romans stayed in Britain for four hundred years and Lindow Man stayed in his bog for two thousand.

Say hello to Lindow Man

If you visit London, you can go and see Lindow Man at the British Museum, where he is spending some time in the company of more famous mummies from Egypt. Whereas the bodies of the Egyptian kings and queens were intentionally preserved, Lindow Man is with us by accident. Whatever his origins, it is a fascinating experience to see him face-to-face. I recommend it.



Language level

Upper intermediate: B2


Fatima writes “Archaeology is a field that I don't have any experience with. More over it is not part of the subjects I usually read. However, the study of old things like bones, pots and other materials made from stone to find out about their history and their ages, and the civilization of the place where these materials were found, is important.

The Roman Empire was a very powerful nation at the time. They invaded many countries including Britain, where they stayed for four hundred years. About the Lindow man’s case the archaeological study did not reveal who he was. Was he from the Roman Empire or from the United Kingdom?

About this article the archaeologists believed that the Lindow man had been sacrificed three times to three different Gods. In my Opinion one can sacrifice living creatures to God. On the contrary, one cannot sacrifice dead creatures to God, unless dead creatures are required by the Gods. However, the ancient people in Britain at the time had intended to make three different sacrifices to three different Gods, but instead of that they were killing the same man in three different ways. So, the only killing which is counted as a sacrifice to God is the first one when they hit his head three times. In fact, the other two killings were not sacrifice because the man was already dead.

In my opinion, they did not find another rich men or priests to sacrifice, so  they decided to cheat the other Gods. However, the archaeologist Ann Ross suggested that he might have been killed to gain help from the Gods. But it didn't work. On the other hand, the Lindow man remained in the bog near Manchester for two thousand years without alteration of his body.

In fact archaeologists mentioned that the body of Lindow man did not decompose and they were able to look at the last food he ate in his stomach after being in the bog for two thousand years – a remarkable thing, isn't it!!

In my opinion the scientists could have done another type of analysis besides their archaeological studies. They could have done an analysis of the components of the bog where the Lindow man was preserved for two thousand years. Chemical and biological analysis could have been done to know the secret of the bog.

In conclusion I think the Lindow man was killed in three different ways because it wasn't easy to kill him so they hit his head first and when he fainted they cut his throat with a knife and then tied him with rope to put him in the bog safely.

This is my personal opinion, however I am not an archaeological expert and therefore I apologize to the author of the article” Archaeology" Mr. Paul Millard and the other archeaologists who made the study - I was only trying to express my opinion and practise my English reading and writing.”

Eric Ramirez Rodriguez writes “I live in Mexico, and maybe the most interesting discovery was that the Mayas were the first civilization that used the zero.”

Awesome story, very impressive! I didn't know this story. But there is an another case quite similar. In 1991 two German hikers found a mummy at 3,210 meters high in the Alps. It was a body of a man which has been named Ötzy.
Whereas Lindow man is 2,000 years old, Ötzy is actually older than that. He's 4,000 years old, and more or less in a good state due to the ice which covered him. In this case too a forensic study, followed by chemical analysis showed where he came from, what he had eaten, what his clothes were made of and so on.
But the most surprising discovery is that he has a piece of an arrow inside his body and near his left lung. This is a strong evidence that he had been hurt before he died. But scientists think that he managed to escape his assailants before he died.
However all the facts are not clear yet, and the scientists are still arguing, like in Lindow man case. You can find more details on Ötzi on the web if you want to learn more. I promise you it's very very interesting as this story 'Archaeology' by paul Millard.

This is very interesting article, but I think that archaeology is generally very interesting subject.  The proof of my words is the book Gods, Graves and Scholars by C.W. Ceram. It's about history of archaeology: the most famous discoveries, like digs in Pompey, and discoverers ( eg. Heinrich Schliemann, or Howard Carter). Author wasn't professional scholar, he was "usual" journalist so he didn't use professional, incomprehensible language, and more over he wrote his story in very attractive way, one can say that's even similar to criminal novel! He quoted story of American researcher Edward Herbert Thompson, who had to dived into well, where ancient Maya people used to drown the human sacrifices for their gods. This book is real encouragement to archaeology.  

A really good article......... Finally,  Imagine if things were so: Romans invaded Britain cause God´s Rage due to they were cheated on.......

To start with in my opinion it´s very interesting articicle so you have to put here more articiles like this.. That has some vocabulary to study and chek..

I think this article is really thrilling.Things in the past may be interesting as same as robots in the future.

I have been reading some articles from British Council for more than  one year. I really like your programmes, especially magazine and story. They are intriguing me so much. I couldn't help reading them constantly. I'd like to register to be a member because I need to say "thank you" for all crew whom work so hard on this good website for us to study English. Thank you very much!! 

There are many interesting discoveries in the world of archaeology. From fossilized remains of dinosaurs to completely preserved human remains, archaeology continues to amaze us and shed light about life on earth. In my country, the discovery of the Tabon cave man has excited archaeologists. They say that the Tabon cave man is one of the earliest humans to settle in Southeast Asia. Ancient tools such as arrows, spears and animal hides were digged near his body. Archaeologists were thrilled with the discovery since it contains possible links to the earliest human ancestors like the Java man which was unearthed in Indonesia. They might provide clues to prehistoric human settlement in Southeast Asia before it detached from the main continent of Asia.
This is article is very stimulating and informative because we get to learn new things about our predecessors. We gain knowledge about their history, environment and way of life during ancient times. Archaeologists are able to explain how humans came to be with just the aid of skeletons and preserved remains. Frankly, I'm amazed and engrossed when I read news about archaelogical findings. It's like completing a puzzle. Piece by piece we gradually see a snapshot of the whole picture. It's an exciting field of science because everyday something new is discovered. You'll never know what's going to surprise you on your next digging.

Amazing indeed!
A man who died nearly two thousand years ago yet his body is so well preserved without decomposed to the extent that the food which he had eaten for his last meal still exist.
I will go to British Museum and see Lindow Man face to face in person someday.

 Very interesting article.
I am learning a lot.