Archaeologists searching for the remains of King Richard III underneath a parking lot in Leicester, England may have found exactly what they were searching for.
The scientists unearthed a skeleton with a curved spine and a metal arrow in its back, which they believe could be the remains of the famed tyrant king, reports The Daily Mail.
Archaeologists from the University of Leicester uncovered the skeleton during their dig in a car park behind council offices last Tuesday, and have taken the remains to a laboratory for additional testing.
The body was found buried in a shroud, without a coffin, inside what they believe is the choir of the lost Grey Friars church. The site was also uncovered during the archaeological dig, which took three weeks to complete. The church is listed in historical records as the burial site of King Richard III.
Initial examinations of the skeleton show that it is of an adult male, and the curved spine matches reports that Richard III suffered from scoliosis. Richard Taylor of the University of Leicester, told media that the skeleton appears to have undergone significant trauma to the school at or near his time of death. Taylor stated:
“This appears consistent with, although not certainly caused by, an injury received in battle. A bladed implement appears to have cleaved part of the rear of the skull.”
Taylor went on to say that:
“We are not saying today that we have found Richard III. What we are saying is that the search for Richard III has entered a new phase. Our focus is shifting from the archaeological excavation to laboratory analysis. This skeleton certainly has characteristics that warrant extensive further detailed examination.”
The BBC notes that Professor Lin Foxhall, head of the university’s School of Archaeology, stated of the find that:
“Archaeology almost never finds named individuals – this is absolutely extraordinary. Although we are far from certain yet, it is already astonishing.”
Along with the trauma to the skeleton’s head, a barbed iron arrow head was also found in the area of the spine. Some accounts of King Richard III’s death say that he was pulled from his horse and killed by a blow to the head.
Because he was the defeated foe, King Richard III was given a low-key burial in the Franciscan Grey Friars church. While the church was demolished in the 1530s, documents describing the slain king’s burial site have survived.
DNA will be extracted from the skeleton’s bones and tested against descendants of King Richard III’s family. Dr. Turi King is leading this part of the DNA analysis, and stated that:
“It is extremely exciting and slightly nerve-wracking. We have extracted teeth from the skull, so we have that and a femur, and we are optimistic we will get a good sample from those.”
DNA testing is expected to take about 12 weeks before the archaeologists will have a definitive answer on whether they have recovered the remains of King Richard III, or simply a skeleton that bears circumstantial resemblance.