Fragment of human skull pierced by bronze arrowhead

Made:
206 BCE-220 CE in China
maker:
Unknown

Fragment of human skull pierced by bronze arrowhead, Chinese, Han Dynasty, 206BC-220AD

Ancient evidence of violent death? A bronze arrowhead is embedded in this skull dating back 2000 years. It is unknown whether this was caused by accident or warfare, but the Han Dynasty in China, where this fragment originated, was a time of great political unrest.

Professional opinion is divided as to whether death was instantaneous. The man may have lived for at least two weeks after the incident because there is evidence of new bone growth. This can only have occurred while he was alive. The green staining around the arrowhead is thought to be evidence of pus from infection. Infection rather than the arrowhead may have been the cause of this person’s death.

Details

Category:
Asian Medicine
Object Number:
A113091
Measurements:
arrowhead: 25 mm
type:
skull
taxonomy:
  • animal remains
credit:
Wellcome Trust

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