GOOD

The Face Of A Man Who Died 700 Years Ago Is Revealing How The Poor Lived In Medieval England

The haunting image has already taught the world much about the medieval lower class lived

As a collective civilization, we’ve made some strides in how we care for the poor and frail but, even in the 21st century, the indigent are often relegated to both anonymous lives and anonymous deaths. So when scientists were able to re-create the life of a man who lived 700 years ago from his remains, it offered a tremendous insight, not just into his life, but into the lives of the countless impoverished citizens of medieval England.

This face—and the man—are known by the clinical and cold moniker Context 958, one of several hundred buried corpses exhumed from graves behind the Old Divinity School of St. John’s College in Cambridge, England, around 2010. The subject was presumed to have been a ward of the hospital or church, likely poor and/or ill, at the time of his death in the 13th century.


C. Cessford

Here’s the subject’s body as it was found, buried facedown, which was rare during this time:

C. Cessford

Subjects such as Context 958 were likely forgotten by the world as they lived, so documentation of their struggle and lifestyle is lacking. But with Context 958’s reconstruction, archaeologists and anthropologists from both Cambridge and Scotland’s University of Dundee have more insight into the daily life of this large, but unstudied historical population.

Using Context 958’s bones, the scientists haven’t just recreated his appearance, they have ascertained information about his diet, career, and even violent activity during the subject’s life.

So this:

Laure Bonner

Becomes this:

University of Dundee

Which in turn becomes this fleshed-out visage:

University of Dundee

Judging by the bone structure, wear on the bones, and posture of the man, the researchers estimated Context 958 was about 40 years old when he died, having worked as a laborer with intermittent access to nutritious food. Judging by the two disruptions in the growth of his tooth enamel, it’s thought that he survived two widespread famines during his difficult life.

The biological evidence in Context 958’s remains allowed the scientists the opportunity to further postulate on his social and familial life, with Professor John Robb of Cambridge University stating:

“One interesting feature is that he had a diet relatively rich in meat or fish, which may suggest that he was in a trade or job which gave him more access to these foods than a poor person might have normally had. He had fallen on hard times, perhaps through illness, limiting his ability to continue working or through not having a family network to take care of him in his poverty.”

There was also an indication of blunt-force trauma on the back of Context 958’s skull that had healed prior to his death.

The study of the subject’s remains is the first in a bigger, well-funded study known as “After the plague: health and history in medieval Cambridge,” which serves to share with the world the lives of the marginalized lower class throughout this era. Says Dr. Robb:

“The After the Plague project is also about humanising people in the past, getting beyond the scientific facts to see them as individuals with life stories and experiences.”

“This helps us communicate our work to the public, but it also helps us imagine them ourselves as leading complex lives like we do today. That's why putting all the data together into biographies and giving them faces is so important.”

The lives of the wealthy and privileged are relatively well-documented throughout history, so a glimpse at the lives of the unstudied masses can offer new insight unavailable prior to the exhumation, reconstruction, and analysis of bodies.

“Most historical records are about well-off people and especially their financial and legal transactions—the less money and property you had, the less likely anybody was to ever write down anything about you. So skeletons like this are really our chance to learn about how the ordinary poor lived.”

As was done with Context 958, future subjects will be studied and ultimately given biographies to get a broader look at the lives of the poor in medieval England.

Articles
via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
Pixabay

Offering parental leave for new fathers could help close the gender gap, removing the unfair "motherhood penalty" women receive for taking time off after giving birth. However, a new study finds that parental leave also has a pay gap. Men are less likely to take time off, however, when they do, they're more likely to get paid for it.

A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

Keep Reading Show less

Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head

Speakman

Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet