Soil analysis leads to cause of death for 800-year-old remains

Published on August 23rd, 2013 | by Admin


Elevated levels of Mercury found in the soil surrounding the remains of a child who died 800-years-ago in Denmark suggest that the 10-to-13-year-old ingested a large dose of Mercury the day before it died.

“I cannot say which diseases the child had contracted. But I can say that it was exposed to a large dose of mercury a couple of months before its death and again a day or two prior to death. You can imagine what happened: that the family for a while tried to cure the child with mercury containing medicine which may or may not have worked, but that the child’s condition suddenly worsened and that it was administered a large dose of mercury which was, however, not able to save its life”, says Kaare Lund Rasmussen.

The detailed insight into the life of the child did not come from analyses of the child’s bones. Instead Kaare Lund Rasmussen and his colleagues have developed a method to extract information from the soil surrounding the body of the dead child in the cemetery in Ribe, Denmark.

[Full story]

Story: Birgitte Svennevig, University of Southern Denmark | Photo: Sydvestjyske Museer

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