Ginnie Graham: Bones' discovery may right an old wrong
BY GINNIE GRAHAM World Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
2/06/13 at 3:47 AM
Kelly Fox of Bartlesville doesn't believe that King Richard III murdered his nephews for the crown or would have given up his kingdom for horse.
With confirmation Monday that the 500-year-old fallen monarch was buried under a parking lot, his defenders are rejoicing.
"I don't believe he was guilty; it's about righting a wrong," Fox said. "I hope it clears up misunderstandings about him."
Richard's winter of discontent may be thawing as anthropologists piece together his skeleton and life.
The news also reawakens the role archeology has in making history more accurate.
In archeology, the truth: An evil pall has followed Richard since he was slain in 1485 on the Bosworth Battlefield near Leicester in central England.
With his death, the Middle Ages ended, the Tudor monarchs rose to power and William Shakespeare described the humpback royal as going on a murderous rampage to the throne.
"The perception was that he was a monster, but that perception was created by Shakespeare," Fox said.
Richard's bones show that he died at age 32 with a severely twisted spine and slender build. He had suffered two blows to the head, and evidence shows that his corpse was mistreated.
More importantly, the discovery resurfaced the debate questioning the account left by later playwrights and rival kings.
For Americans, this interest is about our tendency to seek justice for the wrongly accused.
Fox became intrigued by the tale in high school after reading "The Daughter of Time" by Josephine Tey.
"It's a fascinating murder mystery, and it's real life," he said. "This really happened."
Home-grown history: Britons find the coolest artifacts in their dirt. But Oklahoma has quite a bit to offer, too.
"We will have no Richard III here, but we do have things showing up," said Bob Brooks, Oklahoma's state archeologist and director of the Oklahoma Archeological Survey based at the University of Oklahoma.
Just last year, a farmer in Caddo County stumbled across the bones of an 11,000-year-old woolly mammoth.
The state has about 27,000 official archeological digs in its archives, and at least 1,000 sites a year require research or investigation.
"Oklahoma is a tremendous research lab for studying the past because we have such a diversity of climate and people who have adapted from the prehistoric to historic times," Brooks said.
Archeologists are drawn to the state's varied geography, weather patterns, native tribes and historic passageways.
"That's an incredible mosaic to study," he said.
Oklahoma's first professional archeology work was done in 1894 in Ottawa County's flint quarries.
World War II interrupted most research, but the state has been a treasure trove of artifacts for decades.
Brooks said the modern era has made discoveries more accessible through websites and television programs.
"It used to be the only place to get this information is at a museum," he said. "Our ability to provide people with information about the past has expanded in tremendous ways. We have many different ways to tell the story."
As Richard III gets another day in the court of public opinion, scientists and historians meet at the crossroads of anthropology.
"The exciting thing for people going into archeology is that we never know when a great find will be looming on the surface," Brooks said. "It only takes one time to upend what you previous thought to be true. That is the fun of it - to find or rewrite what we know."
Original Print Headline: Bones' discovery may right old wrong