Video: Researchers uncover ancient warrior skeleton

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updated 7/31/2009 10:49:01 AM ET 2009-07-31T14:49:01

Archaeologists have found the skeleton of a warrior from up to 5,000 years ago floating in a tomb filled with sea water on a beach near Rome, Italy's art squad said Friday.

The bones — believed to date from the 3rd millennium B.C. — were discovered in May as art hunters were carrying out routine checks of the region's archaeological areas, Carabinieri art squad official Raffaele Mancino said.

Archaeologists believe the warrior was likely killed by an arrow, part of which was found among his ribs, Mancino said. There was also a hole in the back of the skull, and six vases and two daggers were found buried nearby.

The tomb of the warrior, nicknamed "Nello" after the archaeologist who found him, could be part of a wider necropolis lying just a few steps from the sea, Mancino told a news conference.

"We will check the area to see whether this tomb is isolated and the warrior was buried here because this was the battlefield where he died," Mancino said. "Or maybe there is a bigger necropolis, as we indeed believe."

The tomb, hidden in the bushes on a public beach in Nettuno, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) south of Rome, was excavated in less than one day to preserve it from sea water erosion, Mancino said. Part of it has already been damaged.

The warrior's bones will be examined and eventually put on display, officials said.

The beach remains open, though the area of the discovery has been cordoned off.

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