6,500-Year-Old ‘Noah’ Skeleton Discovered in Museum Basement

A 6,500-year-old skeleton unearthed at the Ur site in Iraq. Here, the skeleton, which was coated in wax in the field and lifted whole along with surrounding dirt.
Credit: Penn Museum, 2014.

Scientists at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia are quite literally cleaning the skeletons out of their closets. Museum staff recently rediscovered a 6,500-year- old human skeleton that’s been boxed up in the basement for 85 years.

Tucked away in a storeroom, the wooden box had no identifying numbers or catalog card. But a recent effort to digitalize some of the museum’s old records brought forth new informationabout the mysterious box’s history and the skeleton, nicknamed “Noah,” inside.

The human remains inside the box were originally unearthed between 1929 and 1930 at the site of Ur in modern-day Iraq by Sir Leonard Woolley and his team of archaeologists from the Penn and British Museums, according to the records. [See Images of the Ur Skeleton and Historical Excavation]

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