By Tim Binnall
Archaeologists monitoring a construction project along England's famed Thames River were surprised to find a 500-year-old skeleton of a man who was buried while still wearing his boots. The odd discovery was reportedly made as workers were excavating in an area of London known as Bermondsey. Thanks to the unique nature of the skeleton's unexpected and surprisingly durable footwear, researchers were able to discern a bit more about the individual.
According to an expert at the Museum of London Archaeology, the man's leather boots date back to the turn of the 16th century and would have been considered "highly prized" at the time. As such, they theorize that the man most likely would not have been intentionally buried with them on and that, therefore, his death was probably the result of some kind of tragic accident. Given that the boots were designed to reach the man's thighs, they also propose that he "made his living from the river" as either a fisherman or someone who scavenged for materials in the mud.
An examination of the skeleton provided some rather remarkable additional insights into what the man's life may have been like. Specifically, osteological experts noted that the man's teeth sported deep grooves which they surmised were caused by "repetitive action like passing rope between his teeth as a fisherman might." Since he had been found face down in the mud, they suspect that he had fallen to his death, perhaps from a boat, and then was covered by silt from the river tide, effectively hiding his remains from the world for the next five centuries.