Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Ditchling Beaker Reconstruction (Oscar D. Nilsson)

Below is a forensic reconstruction of a Bell Beaker buried in Brighton, Sussex (Southern England).  It just went on exhibit at a new gallery in Brighton in a collection of ancient British peoples by forensic artist Oscar D. Nilsson.  You can see a few other examples in this story and a local interview [here].

These reconstructions are getting quite sophisticated and they are very desirable for local museums.  As with Ditchling Man, many are informed by DNA, this one tagged (I6774) in the recent 2018 Harvard paper.  Eye color was likely blue, hair blonde and skin color is believed to have been very light.  I6774: R1b1a1a2a1a, H4a1a1a

Ditchling Man via MSN
Obviously it is impossible to catch the character of a dead person, but all of the examples convey 'personalities', which is a nice touch that only a true artist can provide.

Ditchling Beaker (Brighton Museum)
It's with the beginning of the Beaker period that people start looking characteristically British compared to previous periods.  Not too surprising.
Ditchling Man (modified) via MuseumCrush (Richard Moss photographer)

Lisa Fisher has captured some of the old excavation data in "Ceramics and Settlement in Bronze Age Brighton".  I went there trying to find any reference to the 'snail shells' located near his mouth in the highlighted portion below.  If they still exist, I would think the mussel shells are of the aquatic variety, especially being so close to the sea.  Who knows.
From Fig 30 of "Ceramics and Settlement in Bronze Age Brighton" (Lisa Fisher)

If these were indeed terrestrial mussels, then maybe some commenters will find this to be evidence that he was a Vasconic-speaker.

Hahaha.  It's a joke, people.  Yes, a little humor never hurts, especially after today's LSD-based linguistic discussions.

From the Olalde et al, 2018 Supplement:

"Ditchling Road (Brighton, Sussex, England)
Contact: Tom Booth
The Ditchling Road Beaker burial was excavated in 1921 as part of preparations for the eponymous road to the south of Stanmer Park in Brighton, Sussex. It consisted of a flat shallow earthen grave containing the skeleton of a 25-35-year-old male in a flexed position on his left side with his head to the northeast facing southeast. The skeleton was accompanied by barbed flint arrowhead recovered from beneath the skull and a Beaker positioned next to his legs. A quantity of snail shells from a variety of species had been placed in front of its mouth. The skeleton is curated at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery. Ancient DNA data from a sample of the petrous portion of the temporal bone of this individual were included in this study.  I6774/R2315/3: 2287-2044 calBCE (3760±30 BP, SUERC-74755)"


  1. Oscar D. Nilsson made very cool exhibition. Is it for sure Beaker folk wore hats like that?

    1. He's drawing inspiration from the Danish Bronze Age examples, which makes some sense given its heritage. Overall, beanie-type caps are historically common in Europe, especially in the North, but as you can see in the previous post with a depiction of Ulysses, wool caps were worn in Phrygia and the surrounds as well. Overall, highly plausible candidate for one of several types of Beaker headgear.

  2. He looks so squished and pathetic. I just want to comfort him.