Discovered in 2008 at an Iron Age site near York in the UK, the brain has just been dated to the 6th century BC, which means it’s around 2,600 years old.
It was found encased by a skull that had been decapitated and buried face-down in wet, clay-rich mud. The team of 34 scientists from the York Archaeological Trust said the thick coating of mud likely starved the brain and skull of oxygen for at least 2,000 years and prevented the soft, spongy parts from decaying away. The team describes the soft tissue remains as having a "resilient, tofu-like texture".
"I peered through the hole at the base of the skull to investigate,” collection projects officer, Rachel Cubbitt, told the press. "To my surprise, saw a quantity of bright yellow spongy material. It was unlike anything I had seen before.”
The fate of the brain’s owner doesn’t appear to have been particularly fortuanate, the researchers suggesting that he was hit hard by someone, before having his head removed. "An examination of the vertebrae in the neck tells us that he was first hit hard on the neck, and then the neck was severed with a small sharp knife,” the team said. He would have been between 25 and 45 at the time of death.
The man’s quick burial likely ensured the brain’s incredibly long survival, and the scientists are working to further conserve it further, now that it’s out in the open.
Source: The International Business Times