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Archaeologists found a 5,000-year-old drum and three children locked in a neolithic embrace

A Stonehenge-era chalk drum is the most important item of ancient art discovered in Britain in the previous 100 years, according to the British Museum. The 5,000-year-old drum will be on exhibit for the first time next week after being unearthed within an ancient burial place of children. It will be unveiled six years after its discovery as part of the British Museum’s ‘World of Stonehenge’ display.

The drum was discovered in 2015 on a country estate near Burton Agnes in East Yorkshire, England, during a regular excavation for the owners to build a structure. A team of archaeologists from the private business Allen Archaeology discovered an old burial site during regular excavation. The remains of three children, ages 3 to 12, were discovered within the burial site, their bones were interwoven for millennia.

‘They were cuddling’, Mark Allen, the founder of Allen Archaeology said. According to scientific news aggregator Phys.org, the drum was kept above the head of the eldest kid, along with a chalk ball and a polished bone pin.

Despite its name, archaeologists do not believe the drum was used as a musical instrument. It was more than likely a work of sculptural art, a talisman, or a children’s toy. The grave is an uncommon find since ancient people in neolithic Britain were normally left dead for cremation or to be devoured by birds.

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According to the British Museum, the drum is one of the most intricately adorned items of this time found anywhere in Britain and Ireland. The carvings on the drum, which depict spirals and triangles, have a butterfly pattern.

‘This drum is particularly intriguing, because it basically encompasses a sort of artistic language that we see throughout the British Isles at this time, and we’re talking 5,000 years ago’, project curator Jennifer Wexler said.

The finding comes more than a century after the Folkton Drums were discovered. In 1889, three identical chalk drums were discovered in Folkton, some 15 miles from Burton Agnes.


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