Skeletons found in London archaeology dig reveal noxious environs

Skeletons found in London archaeology dig reveal noxious environs

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Skeletons found in London archaeology dig reveal noxious environs

According to The Guardian, archaeologists excavating a 19th-century burial site in south-west London have discovered 100 bodies.

Their skeletons have acted as a stark reminder of how bleak and violent life was in Dickensian times.

One of the skeletons’ hands showed signs of bare-knuckle fighting.

A man suspected of being a bare-knuckle boxer, a murdered woman with a broken nose, and a young girl who died before her second birthday were among the bodies exhumed.

Many of those living in the area at the time would have been very poor and leading “a life of drudgery and just-about surviving”, Wessex Archaeology senior osteoarchaeologist, Kirsten Egging Dinwiddy, told The Guardian.

The bodies were found at the New Covent Garden market, where a cemetery was attached to a local church. The cemetery was partially cleared in the 1960s when the markets were built.

The skull of a female who died as a result of a stab wound to the head.

Among the skeletal remains was evidence of arduous working conditions, a noxious environment, endemic diseases, physical deformities, malnutrition and deadly violence, she said.

The bodies revealed high rates of infections, including syphilis.

One of the women found who had syphilis also had a broken nose and appeared to have been stabbed in her right ear with a dagger.

Archaeologists believe the woman was murdered.

Another man, also with syphilis, measured almost six feet tall, a stature of some magnitude at the time.

A coffin plate reads ‘Jane Clara Jay. Died 18 March aged one year. Amen.’

He had a flattened nose and a depression on his left brow suggests he had “several violent altercations”.

The man’s knuckles also showed signs of fighting, and he may have been a bare-knuckle boxer, a common form of entertainment at the time, Ms Egging Dinwiddy said.

Undoubtedly he would have had a “distinctive look”, and a “less than winning smile, she said.

Infant mortality rates was tragically high before and during the 19th century and the discovery of little Jane Clara Jay was a reminder of those harsh times, Ms Egging Dinwiddy said.

Jane died in 1847 just before her second birthday.

A coffin plate was found alongside her remains. Although archaeologists identified some signs of malnutrition, the exact cause of her death is not clear.

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P. Natasha Covers Classical Archaeology news and has been with Histecho since 2017. She has a Master's degree in MA Archaeology from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting program. A California native, she also holds a Bachelor of science in molecular biology and a Master of Science in biology from the University of California, San Diego.

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