It looks like a brain...
March 10, 2015 8:37 AM   Subscribe

The Heslington Brain is a well-preserved 2600 year old brain that was found in an Iron Age excavation site in York in 2008. Its preservation was likely due to the low-oxygen environment of the mud in which it was found. The fact that the man was decapitated and the body disposed of elsewhere protected the brain from the ravages of gut bacteria as well.

The brain belonged to a man who was probably in his 30s and was hanged prior to decapitation.

No one noticed anything odd when the skull was first dug up, until Rachel Cubitt noticed something rattling around (PDF) inside it when she went to clean the find.

At the time of its discovery, the brain had shrunk to 20% of its original size and had a "resilient tofu-like texture".

(previously in vintage brains...)
posted by Blue Jello Elf (19 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
According to the archaeologists who have examined it, the brain is "odourless", with a "smooth surface" and a "resilient, tofu-like texture."

Well, no Pad Thai for me today.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:53 AM on March 10, 2015 [15 favorites]


Nothing good can come from meddling with this.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:54 AM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


That man's name? Abby Normal.
posted by saturday_morning at 8:55 AM on March 10, 2015 [13 favorites]


From the wikipedia article: ‘The precise mechanism by which the Heslington brain was preserved is unclear, however; in a bid to shed light on this question, researchers have buried a number of pigs’ heads in and around the campus to see what happens to them…’ Future archæologists might wonder about the surprisingly well-preserved brains in the pig skulls they discover millennia hence: indications of ritual slaughter, they may suspect, wondering what happened to the remainder of the animals. Perhaps the Iron Age inhabitants of Heslington had dug up a Neolithic skull at that site, and, marvelling at the matter rattling within it, were inspired to try an experiment of their own…
posted by misteraitch at 8:59 AM on March 10, 2015 [13 favorites]


It showed few signs of decay, though most of its original material had been replaced by an as yet unidentified organic compound...

Perhaps of...extraterrestrial...origin???
posted by Thorzdad at 9:12 AM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Heslington Brain has announced its intentions to run for the Senate in Arkansas in 2016.
posted by delfin at 9:24 AM on March 10, 2015 [15 favorites]


Sound to me like they were thinking…
(puts on sunglasses)
ahead.

YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
posted by stltony at 9:31 AM on March 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


Future archæologists might wonder about the surprisingly well-preserved brains in the pig skulls they discover millennia hence: indications of ritual slaughter, they may suspect, wondering what happened to the remainder of the animals.

BBQ! Waste not, want not...
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:37 AM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


He may have lost his head, but he never lost his mind.
posted by Kabanos at 9:44 AM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Heartening to think that the best efforts to erase this man only contributed to his preservation. History will not remember his killers.
posted by ethansr at 9:49 AM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, no Pad Thai for me today.

Well, at least it didn't end with "and one of the researchers described it as 'quite tasty, like a very ripe cheese.'"
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:53 AM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


There's the makings of a great SF B-movie in this story. Quick, let me call my agent.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:57 AM on March 10, 2015


I finally figured out what was bothering me in almost all of the articles. A skull can't be decapitated. Only a body can. They mean disembodied.

Use your resilient, tofu-like brains, people!!!

The Heslington Brain has announced its intentions to run for the Senate in Arkansas in 2016.

Heslingtonbrain would be a great Twitter parody account. And it looks like it's free...
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:01 AM on March 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Is it bad of me to favorites all the smart-ass comments on this post?

Hey, I thought they were funny!
you don't have to bite my head off
posted by BlueHorse at 10:18 AM on March 10, 2015


Heartening to think that the best efforts to erase this man only contributed to his preservation. History will not remember his killers.

History doesn't remember the man either, just his remains.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:21 AM on March 10, 2015


In the future we will unfurl this man's mind like so many Herculaneum papyri.
posted by Thing at 10:31 AM on March 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's the makings of a great SF B-movie in this story. Quick, let me call my agent.
Chocolate Pickle

Even the name screams 50s B-movie:

Its evil lay sleeping for untold ages! Man has unearthed that which was meant to stay buried forever! Beware the Heslington Brain!
posted by Sangermaine at 12:25 PM on March 10, 2015


I would have guessed Aphex Twin song title.
posted by mubba at 6:14 PM on March 10, 2015


BrotherCaine: "History doesn't remember the man either, just his remains."

We remember Herostratus, though.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:47 PM on March 16, 2015


« Older Karzai's life is split between Baltimore and his...   |   “...characters arise out of our need for them.” Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments