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Wanted: Name for Bronze Age man

Johnny Bugeja

A poll by the Gibraltar Museum to find a name for its reconstruction of a Bronze Age man whose remains were found on the Rock has a frontrunner: Yantar.

Over 110 people who have voted in the poll so far picked the name from a shortlist of candidates.

The name, which means amber in Russian, is evocative and harks to both the man’s origins in the Black Sea region and the fact an amber bead was found alongside his remains.

With Yantar taking 41% of the votes by Wednesday evening, the next most popular name was Lithos, which comes from the Greek work for stone or rock. It had 28% of the votes.

Next up with 18% of the votes was Brayman, which is a nod to Bray’s Cave, the name of the location where he was buried.

Taking 9% of the votes was Gib-Son, as in the son of Gibraltar.

The least popular name is Gibray with only 4% backing. This name also combines Gibraltar and Bray’s Cave.

“When we first presented the reconstruction, which was a forensic reconstruction, we had wanted to put a face to this cranium that we found buried in Bray’s Cave,” said Dr Geraldine Finlayson from the museum.

“Because of all the work we have done on the genetics, it is such an exciting find that we thought we would do the reconstruction,”

“And then, when we actually saw his face, we thought this was a real living person and that he deserved a name.”

The museum previously gave names to Neanderthal reconstructions, namely Nana and Flint, and also to Calpeia, a Neolithic woman described as ‘the first known Gibraltarian’ who was included in a study of human remains in Gibraltar that the museum did with the Harvard Medical School.

“Let’s give him a name, but rather than the museum deciding to give it a name, we thought we would get help from the public,” said Dr Finlayson.

The museum has found that, due to lockdown, many people are interacting with staff on social media via the virtual museum.

The response was unexpected, with hundreds of suggestions.

“We got so many suggestions and we whittled them down to 188 different names,” said Dr Finlayson.

“We asked for people to suggest names, that is why we got so many.”

“But now, because a lot of those names got more than one vote, we have condensed it and narrowed it down to a short list of five, as they are the ones with the most votes.”

“Then with these five we decided we will go back out there and open it to the voting, but this time with a suggestion to people so we can try and see if we can have one winner.”

She explained more about the significance of the Yantar and why it might be the most popular choice.

“Yantar is the word for amber in Russian,” Dr Finlayson said.

“At the time [the amber bead was found] we hadn’t made any connection other than we knew that there were two sources of amber in this part of the world, up in the Baltic and close to the Black Sea.”

“So when the genetics came back saying this man was from the Black Sea, this was a marvellous result because the amber then almost supported the genetic finds.”

“And, people have responded to that.”

She would not be drawn on what her own preference was because it might skew the results and the museum is passionate about having Gibraltar name him.

The poll will end at 12.00 on Monday, February 8 and only votes received officially via StrawPoll will be counted.

To vote go to

https://strawpoll.com/zwk8jod1j

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