THE mystery of a man buried around 4,000 years ago could finally be unravelled by scientists.
The ‘Racton Man’ has been a source of intrigue for years as it is one of few Bronze Age skeletons to be found buried with a dagger.
The bones were unearthed on farmland at Racton, near Westbourne, in the 1980s and are now part of the collection at The Novium museum in Chichester.
Now the museum has been awarded a grant of almost £2,000 from the South Downs National Park Authority towards carrying out more research into the ancient remains.
Archaeologists are particularly interested as the dagger could indicate the man was noble, perhaps a king or priest. The dagger may have been used for special rituals, such as human or animal sacrifices.
The Novium’s collections officer Amy Roberts said: ‘The precise character of the dagger makes it remarkable at a national level.
‘Bronze Age specialists have suggested that certain distinguishing features of the dagger could mean it represents the transitional phase from the Copper Age to the Early Bronze Age.
‘Racton Man is a bit of a mystery man at the moment. We’re excited to find out anything more that we can about him.’
Museum staff hope to discover the age, height and diet of the skeleton.
Details about the man’s social status, regional or national origins and how he died could also be revealed.
A number of specialists will now analyse the remains. An expert from the Institute of Archaeology at University College London will carry out an anatomical study and radiocarbon dating will be carried out at the National Museum Scotland.
The project will end with an exhibition in September.
James Kenny, archaeology officer for Chichester District Council, said: ‘Potentially this scientific analysis will help us to understand who this man was. It is special that he was buried with a dagger as this would have been an extremely early and rare use of metal.’