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.

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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.

Discussion

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Upper intermediate: B2

Comments

Hello Team,
First of all, thank you so much for this wonderful platform. I do learn a lot from it.
I'd like to ask two questions about grammar in this article.
First, the writer uses 'using...' in this sentence 'So, Lindow Man was killed using three different methods, when just one would have been sufficient. '. It is not hard to understand its meaning, but how should I understand the grammar? I think normally it should be the word 'by'.
Second, both in 'It was because he was in a very watery environment, safe from the bacteria that need oxygen to live.' and in '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.', the writer uses an adjective to start a clause. I don't know if this is an uncommon grammar or I misunderstand their structure.
Thank you so much in advance.

Hello Eon

I would say that the phrase your refer to is a participle phrase, which is used adverbially in this case -- it modifies the passive verb 'was killed' and tells us how the Lindow Man died. You're right in thinking that 'by' is often used to introduce a phrase of this type. I don't know why the writer didn't use one here, but I know I would hesitate a little when the verb is passive.

As for your second question, yes, it is fairly common to begin a clause with an adjective in this way in a neutral or formal writing style, or even in some formal speaking. 

Good work!

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

 

Hi Kirk,

I have a further question.
Beginning a clause with an adjective is an economic way to use a non-defining relative clause. May I understand these sentences in this way?
Thanks a lot in advance.

My best
Eon

Hello Eon

Yes, that's the idea, it's a kind of reduced relative clause here. Instead of 'where he was safe', it's been reduced to 'safe'.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk,

Thank you so much for your reply.
I'd like to say that the second case have never been introduced in our educational system. Anyway, it is so good to learn new knowledge from your kind explanation.

My best,
Eon

Our ancestors
I don't know if knowledge of our ancestors is important, but I find it very interesting.
I like to know where we are coming from, what was the beginning of all us and what will be the future for human beings.
Human beings spread from Africa to different places around the world and it's amazing how living in different places could make changes in their traits until they became different races. One common ancestor and different races according to the place where you live and develop.
Both archaeologists and anthropologists, study the remains of our ancestors and propose different theories concerning how people lived, how were their customs and why they decided to settle in a place for living as a community.
They have different points of view but both are complementary.
Otherwise archaeologits sometimes find skeletons buried with different tools made from bones, stones and so. In that case,
you need extra information coming from anthropologists for understanding if those remains belong to burial or simply were left there.
In Spain we find Atapuerta which has a huge amount of human being remains.
One place studied there, is called 'Sima de los huesos'. It's placed in a cave and it's about 400.000 years old. There, were found the most quantity of human fossils worldwide. It's almost sure that cave was the first place where human being remains were found.
Fossils were found for the first time in 1976 and after that discovery, archaeologists have been working in order to find more and more. They are closed to Neanderthals.

Hi ,i read an article and got whole meaning but for expressing your own thoughts you should know grammar used on it that is why i ask anyone with adequote answer , the article is -The Commission’s investigation began almost a year ago, when the Cambridge Analytica scandal landed: a UK data mining company found to be involved with Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, accessed data about millions of its users without permission.- found there is short form of (that is found) but dont know what exactly -to be involved- is , i have clues its being gerund with passive voice but then meaning baffles a bit

Hello MNahid,

As you say, there is a reduced form in this sentence. It is what we call a reduced relative clause:

...a UK data mining company (that was) found to be...

 

It is possible to reduce certain defining relative clauses in this way. You can read more about them on these pages:

defining relative clauses

relative clauses

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks Peter for trying to help me on it but i know about what you shared in links but i am stuck on following part saying - a UK data mining company found to be involved with Donald Trump's......... - the part i wanna know is what meaning is of - to be envolved) ?

Hello MNahid,

If a person is involved in something then they are participating in it in some way.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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