Skip to comments.Richard III body found under Leicester car park
Posted on 02/07/2013 4:14:55 PM PST by neverdem
The skeleton showing curvature of the spine (scoliosis) consistent with historical accounts © University of Leicester
The mortal remains of England's warrior king Richard III have been found, bringing to a close a mystery that has puzzled scholars for centuries. Analytical tests on a skeleton found under a Leicester car park have confirmed the last resting place of the final king in the Plantagenet line.
The announcement comes after months of feverish speculation. In September 2012, the University of Leicester announced that its detective work combing ancient texts had led its team to conclude that the King was buried at Greyfriars Monastery in Leicester. The monastery was no longer standing, but with the use of ancient records the team guessed its former location under a council car park. Excavation on site uncovered two skeletons: a mans and a womans. The man had died a violent death, tallying with Richards death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. He had also suffered from scoliosis, curvature of the spine, which would have given him a stoop and led to one shoulder being significantly higher than the other. This also matches contemporary accounts of Richard III as the hunchback monarch, often thought to have been a slur invented by the victorious Tudors.
But while these pieces of evidence are intriguing, they could be merely a coincidence. To confirm beyond any shadow of a doubt that the skeleton they had uncovered was that of Richard III, the researchers conducted further tests on the body.
Radiocarbon dating revealed that the body was from the right era and that the man most likely died between 1455 and 1540. Examination of his bones showed that he died in his late twenties or early thirties; Richard III died at the age of 32. In depth analysis of the wounds the man suffered using CT scans confirm that he died in battle and that his body was also mutilated after death with humiliating wounds. The team also investigated whether DNA from living descendants of the king matched the skeletons.
Turi King, a geneticist who applies sequencing technologies to archaeological finds at the University of Leicester, led the team that investigated the skeletons DNA. She tells Chemistry World that great care was needed when extracting DNA from the skeleton. We made sure the excavation was carried out in clean conditions the main thing youre worried about is modern DNA contamination, she says. A tooth was extracted from the skeleton, cleaned extremely carefully and sterilised with UV light before being ground up into a powder. Adding the powder to a buffer allowed the DNA to leach out so it could be extracted for analysis.
Kings team concentrated on mitochondrial DNA, which is exclusively passed down on the mothers side. They sequenced the mitochondrial DNA from the skeleton and compared it with that of Michael Ibsen, a known descendant of the Plantagenet family on the maternal side, and a second person, who wished to remain anonymous, also related to Richard III.
They found that the skeletons relatively rare mitochondrial DNA sequence found in only 1-2% of the UK population was shared by both the Plantagenet descendants. But the DNA evidence shouldnt be seen in isolation, says King. Richard Buckley, lead archaeologist in the search for the kings grave, agrees: It is the academic conclusion of the University of Leicester that, beyond reasonable doubt, the individual exhumed at Greyfriars in September 2012 is indeed Richard III, the last Plantagenet king.
King says that she is now focusing on reconstructing Richard IIIs Y chromosome to check this against male descendants from the Plantagenet line. However, she says it is likely to be a slow, painstaking task as the DNA is highly degraded.
He may have had a curved spine, but he was strong enough to wield an axe from the back of a horse, and kill.
The curvature in the thoracic vertebrae is evident in the skeleton. Interesting.
The man had died a violent death, tallying with Richards death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.
No doubt a painful death, but perhaps a mercy none the less.
Had he lived in to old age he would have been in constant pain as his scoliosis progressed. As the curvature of his spine progressed spinal nerves would have been pinched between vertebra causing constant pain to the point that eventually he would not be able to sit, walk or lie in any position for any length of time.
On the other hand perhaps such a life would be perhaps fair justice if the reports of his murder of his young nephews are true.
The 14th great grand uncle of Queen Elizabeth II...
On the female skeleton found with Richard III: Dispute not with her: she is lunatic.
Very interesting. Thanks for locating and posting.
After studying up on the Battle of Bosworth Field, it seems though the king may have been a real Richard, but no one could question his courage. He personally led a do-or-die charge with not much more than his household guard right at his opponents.
I love this archaeological detective work. Here it's not just the DNA - it's all the different types of evidence they've been able to pull together, and it all points to this poor beat-up old skeleton with severe scoliosis and cavities and some truly nasty sword/halberd wounds (several of them instantly fatal) really being all that is mortal of King Richard III.
Well, it’s good to know that royal inbreeding for generations will have the benefit of one day assisting in the identification of your remains buried under a parking lot. /s
Again? How many times can he get lost and found?
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Kwik, somebody kiss him and see if he wakes up!
Sometimes being king is not so good..a bad back and a face full of asphalt at the end of a short life.
It seems the reporter was one of those allowed to view the remains. He reports that they were reminded to view the skeleton with respect, as it was that of a king, and also that there was a man near the remains wearing the colors of a Roman Catholic priest.
If only all their stories could be as excellent and communism-free!
Thanks for the link and the reminder. I try to remember their Science Times.
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