King Richard III's remains have been identified and a new website made live courtesy of the University of Leicester, which performed the analysis and archaeological dig. Over a period of about 40 minutes, the King Richard III team explained each element of the investigation and its rationale.
The press conference started with an introduction to the panel: Richard Taylor, Deputy Registrar; Lead archaeologist Richard Buckley; Dr. Jo Appleby, Osteology expert; History expert Professor Lin Foxhall; Genealogy expert Professor Kevin Schürer; and genetics expert Dr. Turi King. By the time the show started Richard III was trending at #7 worldwide:
"#RichardIII seems to currently be trending at number 7 worldwide! -- @visit_leicester.”
Historic Royal Palaces started the ball rolling with some facts about King Richard III's life, then lead archaeologist Richard Buckley explained that the body had been believed thrown into the river, and that the church had been razed and lost in time. It was not believed until recently that there even could be a body.
The dig began on 25 August, 2012 and a burial site was found on the third trench dug. A body had been more or less thrown into a grave; its head was propped up, its hands possibly tied, and its feet were missing.
Upon excavation, battle wounds and a severe curvature of the spine were identified. No signs of clothing or armor were discovered, which gel with accounts of the body being stripped on the site.
According to Dr. Appleby, carbon dating by two independent laboratories put the body between 1455 and 1540, the ballpark time period. The body would have been about 5'8”, a typical medieval height, but the severe scoliosis would have made the potential king look shorter.
Ten wounds, some postmortem and possibly done out of contempt, were identified on the body. These included eight head wounds, a cut rib and a cut pelvis, most likely postmortem because the armor would have been missing.
A deep cut on the chin with something like a halberd or a massive trauma to the skull would have been cause of death. The bone-deep thrust to the buttock would likely have been for humiliation.
Professor Foxhall then discussed the body's appearance. It was later revealed that a computer reconstruction will appear in a Channel 4 documentary later Feb. 4. The build was slight, which matched contemporary accounts. Professor Foxhall concluded that the man was about the right age and right build to be King Richard III.
Profession Schürer was next, with genealogy information. Two direct descendants, one anonymous, one not, were identified from the line descending from Richard III's sister, Anne of York. The line was traced carefully and came up with Mr. Ibsen and an unnamed second source.
The University saved the best for last. Dr. King discussed the DNA results and confirmed that DNA could be and was extracted from the skull's tooth. The DNA was compared to the two living donors and it was a match:
“BREAKING: DNA of Michael Ibsen matches DNA of the Grey Friars skeleton #RichardIII -- @uniofleicester.”
According to historian Matthew Ward, who was live-tweeting from the University of Leicester, at this point many of the assembled journalists exited rapidly to their vans to start uploading what is clearly one of the most exciting historical discoveries ever.
Sources: University of Leicester; Twitter