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Sat May 25, 2019, 12:53 AM

2,300-Year-Old Bark Shield Showcases a Previously Unknown Iron Age Technology

George Dvorsky
Yesterday 4:00pm

A one-of-a-kind bark shield dating back to the Iron Age has been unearthed in England. Archaeologists have never seen anything like it, describing the artifact as “lost technology.”

The bark shield was discovered four years ago in what was once a livestock watering hole, according to a release issued by the University of York. Normally, items made from organic materials, such as bark, don’t preserve well, but in this case, the moist, soggy conditions prevented the shield from degrading. The bark shield is the only one of its kind ever found in Europe, according to a University of Leicester release.

The artifact, called the Enderby shield, was discovered by archaeologists from the University of Leicester Archaeological Service at the Everards Meadows site in 2015, which is south of Leicester, England. This area once hosted a vibrant Iron Age farming community. The bark shield, which was made from either alder, willow, poplar, hazel, or spindle tree, was radiocarbon dated to between 395 and 255 BCE, according to the University of Leicester. The outer layer of bark formed the inside of the shield.

Archaeologists have previously documented the use of bark to manufacture other objects, but this is the first time the material has been seen in an Iron Age weapon. This discovery is consequently changing our conceptions of the materials and techniques used to create defensive weapons thousands of years ago.


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