The team of researchers concluded that the man died more than 3,000 years ago, between 1370 and 1010 BC.
Newspapers regularly publish stories about horrific shark attacks, but a published article by Oxford researchers tells about the discovery of a 3,000-year-old human victim attacked by a shark in the Seto inland Sea of the Japanese archipelago.
The study, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, shows that the remains found are the earliest direct evidence of a shark attack on a person, and an international research team has carefully recreated what happened using forensic methods.
The grim discovery of the victim was made by Oxford researchers J. Alyssa White and Professor Rick Schulting during a study of evidence of violent injuries on the remains of prehistoric hunter-gatherers at Kyoto University. They came across the found body No. 24 from the previously excavated Tsukumo site. It was an adult male, riddled with injuries.
“At first, we were confused by what could have caused at least 790 deep jagged wounds in this person,” said the Oxford colleagues. He was buried in a communal grave, in the Tsukumo Shell Rock Cemetery.
The scientists pointed out that the injuries were mainly inflicted on the arms, legs, the front part of the chest, and abdomen. Injuries caused by humans, animals, predators, or scavengers were excluded.
Since archaeological shark sightings are extremely rare, they turned to forensic experts in search of clues and worked with expert George Burgess, honorary director of the Florida Shark Research Program. And the reconstruction of the attack was prepared by an international team.
The team concluded that the man died more than 3,000 years ago, between 1370 and 1010 BC. The distribution of the wounds strongly suggests that the victim was alive during the attack; his left arm was bitten off, perhaps it was a defensive injury.
The body of man No. 24 was discovered shortly after the attack and buried along with other people in the cemetery. Excavation records showed that his right leg was also missing, and his left leg was placed on top of his body in an inverted position.
Given the injuries, he was clearly a victim of a shark attack And, judging by the nature and location of the tooth marks, it was most likely a tiger or white shark.
Co-author, Dr. Mark Hudson, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute, says: “Neolithic people in Jomon, Japan, exploited some marine resources … It is unclear whether the deceased was deliberately hunting sharks or whether the shark was attracted by blood or bait for other fish. In any case, this find not only gives a new look at ancient Japan but also is a rare example of how archaeologists can reconstruct a dramatic episode from the life of a prehistoric community.