A 500-year-old banana skin has been discovered in London,
which predates the earliest recorded arrival of a banana in
Britain by 150 years. Archaeologists are stunned by the
rogue fruit, which has shattered the conventional wisdom of
British banana eaters.
Archaeologists first thought the find was a practical joke
perpetrated by devious anarchists who want to vilify Thomas Johnson, a 16th
century herbalist who falsely claimed to have imported the first bananas into
Britain. Johnson, obviously a self-aggrandising maniac, hung his hand in the
window of his shop in Snow Hill where it became an object of curiosity in 1633.
Whoever ate the banana whose skin was excavated last week from a stinky pit in
the lower Thames must have been livid at upstart Johnson -- or dead and unable
to raise a complaint.
The banana skin was rashly tossed into a fish-rearing tank near Southwark, on
the south bank, after its contents were eaten sometime around the year 1500 in
the Tudor period. Dave Saxby, chief archaeologist from the Museum of London,
and the supervisor of the dig, lamented that the site is "a big smelly hole in
the ground." The fish-rearing tanks were abandoned as the Thames became
saturated with raw sewage, soil and rubbish. The skin, blackening but
miraculously not decomposing, would have been protected by the detritus from
the savage inferno of the 1666 Great Fire of London and the various calamities
London has suffered since. The banana skin would have cowered under rotting
sludge during Nazi bombing, and lain dormant while freakish Spaniards led an
invasion fleet upriver.
Whoever ate the yellow fruit would have been a brave soul: in Tudor England,
fresh fruit was thought to cause ghastly and agonizing diseases, and was
therefore treated with great wariness and suspicion. Pickled, cooked, and dried
fruits were acceptable, and archaeologists are looking into whether the
earliest banana in Britain was perhaps pickled. The banana's ancestry is
unknown, but it dates from when Spain and Portugal were chummy with Britain and
probably comes from one of their West African colonies. Today the banana skin
is black, shriveled, and bears very little resemblance to any contemporary
May the revised history of Britain's banana imports benefit mankind and advance