'Oldest Dutchman' discovered: Fishermen find prehistoric skull in North Sea

Fishermen off the coast of Holland made a startling discovery when they hauled in a skull fragment belonging to the “oldest Dutchman.”

The fragment dates back over 13,000 years to when the North Sea was a large plain, and not a sea, according to the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities. “This discovery yields important clues regarding the colonization and occupation of this vast sunken landscape and the early cultural expressions of the last hunters of the Ice Age,” it explained in a statement.

Experts published their analysis of the skull in the journal Antiquity.

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Found near a dredged navigation channel, the fragment is the left parietal bone of a skull. “It is the oldest find of a modern human from the North Sea,” explained the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities, in its statement. “Physical anthropological research indicates the fragment belonged to an adult person, who may have suffered and recovered from a condition such as anemia.”

The decorated bison bone recovered from the North Sea (Dutch National Museum of Antiquities)

The decorated bison bone recovered from the North Sea (Dutch National Museum of Antiquities)

The fragment was donated to the museum by the North Sea Fossils group in 2013.

Details of another North Sea find were also revealed in the Antiquity article. A decorated bison bone, which is about 13,500 years old was fished from the North Sea in 2005. The Dutch National Museum of Antiquities later received the bone as a long-term loan from a private collector.

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“The piece is a fragment of a metatarsal with a striking zig-zag decoration on five panels,” explained the museum, in its statement. “It is the earliest piece of art to come from the North Sea.”

The skull fragment recovered from the North Sea (Dutch National Museum of Antiquities)

The skull fragment recovered from the North Sea (Dutch National Museum of Antiquities)

The decorated bone fragment is only the fourth of its type ever discovered – the others, all similarly decorated, were found in Wales, France and Poland.

It is not clear, however, what the North Sea artifact was used for, although experts have speculated that it may have been the handle of a tool or a ritual object.

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Archaeologists from the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities and the University of Leiden in Holland were among the researchers that analyzed the skull fragment and bone. Carbon dating was performed by experts at the University of Groningen.

Other discoveries of human remains have also been generating buzz. Archaeologists in Sweden, for example, uncovered mysterious 8,000-year-old skulls mounted on wooden stakes that shed new light on grisly Stone Age rituals.

In Mexico, archaeologists recently discovered an interlocked spiral of ancient skeletons. Last year archaeologists in Turkey revealed that human skulls may have once decorated an ancient temple.

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A carved human bone from an archaeological dig in the U.K. is also offering new insight into the grisly culture of prehistoric cannibals

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