World News: Canada, Petite Mustique, China

A round up of some of the latest archaeological stories from across the globe, including the discovery of a tudor coin found in Canada, evidence of leprosy in the Caribbean, an ancient murder victim in China.

Leprosy in the Caribbean

Researchers analysing a young woman’s skull unearthed on the uninhabited Caribbean island of Petite Mustique have found evidence of leprosy – a discovery that correlates with historical records suggesting that the island was the site of a failed attempt to establish a leprosarium in the early 19th century.

Image: Greg C Nelson.

The skull was found eroding out of the beach in 2003. It was exported for scientific analysis in 2014, and researchers found pathological changes indicative of rhinomaxillary syndrome, suggesting that the individual was suffering from early-stage Hansen’s disease. Radiocarbon dating places the skull at around 220 years old, making the individual the only directly dated person with leprosy in the Western Hemisphere, and possibly the region’s earliest known example of someone with the disease.

The research was published in the International Journal of Paleopathology (

Tudor coin found in Canada

A Henry VII ‘half groat’, made of silver and minted in Canterbury between 1493 and 1499, has been found thousands of miles away at the Cupids Cove Plantation Provincial Historic Site in eastern Newfoundland, Canada, during the latest round of seasonal excavations at the site.

The colony at Cupids Cove Plantation was one of the earliest English settlements in North America, having been established in 1610 by Englishman John Guy, a merchant from Bristol. It is perhaps not too surprising to learn, then, that the recently discovered coin may be the oldest English coin ever found on the North American continent.

As well as traversing an ocean, the coin, which was in circulation for many years, must have crossed many palms before being lost at Cupids Cove sometime in the early 17th century.

Historical murder victim found in China

A man whose body was found within an ancient robbery shaft dug into a 2,000-year-old tomb in a cemetery in Shiyanzi village in the Ningxia region of China may have been the victim of a historical murder, according to new research published in the journal Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences (

The 25-year-old was previously thought to have been a grave robber who perished on the job, but soil analysis has confirmed that his body significantly post-dates the construction of the robbery shaft. It is not known exactly when the grave was looted, but the man’s remains have been radio- carbon dated to AD 640-680, 700 years after the tomb’s original occupants were interred. Analysis of his body, moreover, has revealed 13 injuries made by sharp objects at or around the time of his death, possibly indicative of a group attack.