By the same authors

From the same journal

From the same journal

Exceptional preservation of a prehistoric human brain from Heslington, Yorkshire, UK

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Sonia O'Connor
  • Esam Ali
  • Salim Al-Sabah
  • Danish Anwar
  • Ed Bergstroem
  • Keri A. Brown
  • Jo Buckberry
  • Stephen Buckley
  • John Denton
  • Konrad M. Dorling
  • Adam Dowle
  • Phil Duffey
  • Howell G. M. Edwards
  • Elsa Correia Faria
  • Peter Gardner
  • Andy Gledhill
  • Karl Heaton
  • Carl Heron
  • Rob Janaway
  • David King
  • Anthony Masinton
  • Axel Petzold
  • Martin Rumsby
  • Holger Schutkowski
  • Kimberley A. Shackleton
  • Jerry Thomas
  • Andrew S. Wilson


Publication details

JournalJournal of archaeological science
DateE-pub ahead of print - 10 Mar 2011
DatePublished (current) - Jul 2011
Issue number7
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)1641-1654
Early online date10/03/11
Original languageEnglish


Archaeological work in advance of construction at a site on the edge of York, UK, yielded human remains of prehistoric to Romano-British date. Amongst these was a mandible and cranium, the intra-cranial space of which contained shrunken but macroscopically recognizable remains of a brain. Although the distinctive surface morphology of the organ is preserved, little recognizable brain histology survives. Though rare, the survival of brain tissue in otherwise skeletalised human remains from wet burial environments is not unique. A survey of the literature shows that similar brain masses have been previously reported in diverse circumstances. We argue for a greater awareness of these brain masses and for more attention to be paid to their detection and identification in order to improve the reporting rate and to allow a more comprehensive study of this rare archaeological survival. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Bibliographical note

O'Connor, S., Ali, E., Al-Sabah, S., Anwar, D., Bergström, E., Brown, K.A., Buckberry, J., Buckley, S., Collins, M., Denton, J., Dorling, K., Dowle, A., Duffey, P., Edwards, H.G., Faria, E.C., Gardner, P., Gledhill, A., Heaton, K., Heron, C., Janaway, R., Keely, B.J., King, D., Masinton, A., Penkman, K., Petzold, A., Pickering, M.D., Rumsby, M., Schutkowski, H., Shackleton, K.A., Thomas, J., Thomas-Oates, J., Usai, M.-R., Wilson, A.S., O'Connor, T.

    Research areas

  • Brain tissue, Waterlogging, Burial environment, Adipocere, Putrefaction, Decapitation, ADIPOCERE FORMATION, MUMMIFIED BRAIN, BURIAL, FLORIDA, TISSUE, BONE, SITE, AGE

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