Archive for the ‘Ancient’ Category

Decapitated horse found in Merovingian grave

Thursday, December 30th, 2021

Archaeologists have unearthed a Merovingian-era cemetery in Knittlingen, southwestern Germany, that includes a beheaded horse laid to rest alongside his warrior rider. The excavation revealed more than 110 graves containing the remains of the local elite.

Today’s Knittlingen was founded in the Merovingian period (the first written record of it is Carolingian, dating to 843), but there is archaeological evidence of settlement going back to the Neolithic era. Graves from the Merovingian burial ground were first discovered in 1920 during construction of a narrow-gauge railway that was never completed. When real estate development was planned at the site in the 1980s, an archaeological survey encountered a few more graves, but the development did not move forward and the site was not thoroughly excavated until this summer.

The  Baden-Württemberg State Office for Monument Preservation (LAD) employed contractors ArchaeoBW to explore the area. As expected, the team encountered prehistoric findings, post holes, pits and trenches from Neolithic structures and fragments of ceramics dating to around 5000 B.C.

The main focus of the excavation, however, was the Merovingian cemetery. The goal was to uncover all of the inhumation burials at the site, and even though excavations will continue through the spring of 2022, archaeologists believe the cemetery has been fully revealed.

The graves were laid out in regular rows in largely chronological order, but the graves of some of the more notable members of the societal elite were out of sequence, buried within a circular ditch. Some of the graves were simple cut holes, but some individuals were buried in wooden coffins, and there were also more elaborate wooden chambers built to contain the remains of people of highest status.

While the cemetery was extensively looted in the Middle Ages, archaeologists were able to recover a wide range of funerary artifacts, including pearl necklaces, fibulae, earrings, arm rings, disc brooches, belt fittings and utilitarian objects like knives and combs. Weapons — swords, spears, shields, arrowheads — were found in male burials. Pottery containing the remnants of food were interred as funerary offerings.

“Despite their fragmentation due to the ancient robbery, the finds give indications of the social status of the dead,” said [LAD officer Dr. Folke] Damminger. The comparatively rich burials from the second half of the sixth century are remarkable in Knittlingen. One woman was buried with almost complete fibula outfits typical of the time. A gold disc brooch worn individually from a somewhat younger grave, on the other hand, heralds the fashion of the seventh century. Some of the men’s graves identified the deceased as cavalrymen. A decapitated horse was buried in the vicinity of one of these burials. Bronze bowls testify to table manners based on the courtly model.

The accessory ensembles of the late seventh century, on the other hand, looked somewhat more modest. It is not known whether this is due to a decline in prosperity or to a change in the staging of the funerals of the local elites.

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Mummy of Pharaoh Amenhotep I digitally unwrapped

Wednesday, December 29th, 2021

The mummy of Pharaoh Amenhotep I is a unique survivor of the destructive fashion for unwrapping mummies in the late 19th and early 20th century. It has managed to survive the 140 years since its discovery untampered with, thanks largely to the pristine beauty of its wrapping, complete with floral garlands and lifelike wood and cartonnage face mask. It is still pristine, but now thanks to CT scanning, the mummy of Amenhotep I has been unwrapped virtually.

Amenhotep I was the second pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty, who ruled Egypt for two decades, from ca. 1524 to 1504 B.C. His original tomb has never been found, but his mummy was discovered in 1881 at the Deir el-Bahari Royal Cache in Luxor, hidden by priests of the 21st Dynasty to protect royal mummies from being damaged or destroyed by tomb raiders. The mummy was found in a wood coffin inscribed with the pharaoh’s name and recording that Amenhotep I had been rewrapped twice by 21st Dynasty priests of Amun. The pristine wrapping, therefore, was not original to his burial, but a later restoration dating to his reburial in the Royal Cache.

(Three thousand years later, Gaston Maspero, noted French Egyptologist and director-general of the antiquities of Egypt from 1881 until 1914, took over where the priests of Amun had left off. In his dogged pursuit of antiquities traffickers, he arrested the men who had secretly found the Deir el-Bahari cache of royal mummies and they confessed to their find under torture. Maspero quickly had the mummies moved to Cairo to protect them from tomb raiders. He was also responsible for the decision to keep Amenhotep I’s exceptional wrapping intact.)

The mummy was X-rayed in the 1930s and again in the 1960s, but the technology wasn’t refined enough to provide much in the way of information about the pharaoh’s body. CT scans allowed the creation of a 3D model that can be visualized in its different compositional layers.

“This fact that Amenhotep I’s mummy had never been unwrapped in modern times gave us a unique opportunity: not just to study how he had originally been mummified and buried, but also how he had been treated and reburied twice, centuries after his death, by High Priests of Amun,” said Dr. Sahar Saleem, professor of radiology at the Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University and the radiologist of the Egyptian Mummy Project, the study’s first author. […]

We show that Amenhotep I was approximately 35 years old when he died. He was approximately 169cm tall, circumcized, and had good teeth. Within his wrappings, he wore 30 amulets and a unique golden girdle with gold beads.”

“Amenhotep I seems to have physically resembled his father: he had a narrow chin, a small narrow nose, curly hair, and mildly protruding upper teeth.”

Saleem continued: “We couldn’t find any wounds or disfigurement due to disease to justify the cause of death, except numerous mutiliations post mortem, presumably by grave robbers after his first burial. His entrails had been removed by the first mummifiers, but not his brain or heart.”

The scans also revealed that contrary to previous scholarship (including Saleem’s), the 21st Dynasty priests had carefully repaired mummies damaged by looters at the end of the 20th Dynasty, not used them as mines of prestige funerary materials. All of Amenhotep’s jewelry and amulets were preserved in the linen wrapping.

The research has been published in the journal Frontiers in Medicine and can be read in its entirety here.

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Jersey acquires world’s largest Iron Age hoard

Tuesday, December 28th, 2021

The world’s largest Iron Age coin hoard, discovered on Jersey nine years ago, has been acquired by the Government of Jersey for £4.25 million ($5.7 million). The Council of Ministers dipped into the civil asset recovery fund (moneys confiscated from criminal activities) to pay Her Majesty’s Receiver General, administrator of the Crown estate in Jersey, for the right to keep their own patrimony.

The Le Catillon II hoard was discovered by a pair of metal detectorists in February 2012. They had been searching that field for 30 years, looking for a coin treasure based on a tale they’d heard from the previous landowner’s daughter that she and her father had found coins in a jar buried in the field when she was a little girl. After three decades of fruitless searching, Reg Mead and Richard Miles found 60 coins of the Coriosolite tribe in what is now Brittany in one location. They dug down and encountered the top of what would prove to be a massive group of Celtic coins.

The find site was then thoroughly excavated by archaeologists who wrapped the mass of coins, hardened by corrosion into a half-ton block, and raised it in one giant chunk for excavation at the Jersey Museum in view of the public. Initial estimates of how many coins were crammed in there ranged from 30,000 to 50,000.  As excavation continued, the estimate increased to 70,000; this turned out to be the accurate figure. Conservators then encountered a surprise: a section about the size of a shoebox containing six gold torcs. They also found other pieces of jewelry, glass beads, a leather purse and a woven bag containing silver and gold jewelry. It took five years to fully excavate the block. The last coin was removed in 2017.

Treasure finds on Jersey are legally complicated because of its status as a self-governing Crown Dependency. The finders wanted the Le Catillon II hoard declared treasure under the UK’s legislation or, if the French law was applied, that it belonged to the finders and landowner. They tried to make a case of it, to loosen up the Crown Dependency chains a little bit, but nothing came of it, and a decade later it came down to a buyout. The hoard’s value was initially estimated at £10 million, so at least they got charged the friends price.

The historic collection of coins will now remain in Jersey Heritage’s care.

Part of the financial settlement included a £250,000 payment to Jersey Heritage for their work towards dismantling the coins, and an additional £250,000 which will be used to establish a trust. […]

The Crown will now undertake the work to establish an independent trust to promote scientific and educational research into the historic discovery.

Chief Minister John Le Fondre said the purchase was made “in the interest of the island”.

He said: “This is an outcome which will ensure that this unique part of Jersey’s history remains in the island for this and future generations.”

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Riches, horses found in graves of “amber elites”

Monday, December 27th, 2021

Archaeologists have unearthed richly furnished graves in a 3rd-7th century A.D. burial ground on the Sambian peninsula in Russia’s Kaliningrad oblast. They belonged to the elite of the late Roman, Migration Period and early Middle Ages, many of whom prospered thanks to the enduring trade in Baltic amber as well as other prized commodities like fur, homey and wax. The graves prove that a distinctive elite arose in the area in the 3rd century, two centuries earlier than previously believed.

A team from the Institute of Archeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences began excavating the Putilovo-2 cemetery site three miles from the shores of the Baltic in 2015 for the first time in 150 years. In four years of exploration, they have revealed a two-acre burial ground. Excavations expanded this year in anticipation of new highway construction in the area.

Most of them are cremation burials with cinerary remains interred in urns. They range from simple vessels buried in a small pit to large, elaborate urns buried in wooden boxes with extensive grave goods. The urns and coffins were covered with large slabs and then topped with stones. While the burials were extensively looted in the Middle Ages, both for their metal contents and for the slab stone reused by the Teutonic knights in castle construction. Ironically, slabs that collapsed into the graves ended up protecting the contents from looters as the broken slabs were no longer usable and thieves assumed there was nothing left under the busted roof.

Grave goods that have been discovered thus far include pottery, jewelry of bronze, silver and gold, fibulae in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, torques, bangles, belt buckles, amber beads, weapons and tools. Roman silver and brass coins minted in the 1st and 2nd centuries were found in large numbers in the 4th-5th century graves. By this time they weren’t simple currency so much as objects of great symbolic value. Archaeologists believe they may have been deemed to have currency value in the afterlife, which is why they were found in the graves of people of all ages and classes.

Four of the graves were marked as members of the local elite by their contents. One features a large urn buried with a jar, a spearhead, a bronze dagger, a fibula, scissors, a gold ring, an iron shield boss and a unique large set of glass game pieces for the board game Ludus latrunculorum. The game was popular throughout the Roman Empire and environs including modern-day Poland and Scandinavia. This set is extraordinary because there are almost 100 pieces that were preserved in a pouch. Nothing like it has been found in the Kaliningrad region for 170 years, and never before in the Sambian peninsula.

This man in this grave was so important that he was buried with not one, not two, but three horses. One of them still had its bronze bridle on its mandible and another was buried with his grooming kit bag. There were other horse burials in the cemetery, but this is the only triple header.

The excavation is scheduled to continue for another six months. The artifacts will be cleaned and conserved for eventual display in area museums.

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Roman building with boar prints found in Corsica

Friday, December 24th, 2021

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of two buildings dating to between the 1st and 5th centuries in Penta-Di-Casinca, Corsica. The first is a masonry building with a circular structure connecting to a brick corridor. The floor of the passage is lined with terracotta tiles that bear the unmistakable evidence of a previous visitor: the hoof print of a pig or small wild boar stamped onto the tile when it was still wet. This is believed to have been a heating structure. Only the foundations of the second building have been unearthed. They are made of blocks of large, rounded river stones known as galets roulés.

The site is just over a mile from the sea shore, a half mile from the Fium’Alto river and six miles from the Roman city of Mariana, founded in 100 B.C. by general and seven-times-consul Gaius Marius as a colony for the veterans of his legions. The discovery of notable buildings at Penta-Di-Cascina suggest there may have been a second urban agglomeration close to Mariana.

The complex is distinguished by the quality of its structures. In particular, archaeologists have discovered several pipes for collecting and treating wastewater. In the center of the right-of-way, three gutters have been brought to light. Two, built in bricks and tiles, seem to work with the first building while a third gutter running through the entire excavation right-of-way intersects them. It is distinguished by the construction materials used: its walls are made of bricks and it is covered with massive shale slabs. These structures bear witness to the attention paid to water by the occupants and their standard of living.

Penta-Di-Casinca and its region have great archaeological potential. In the past, several occupations were identified and in 1972, a survey carried out near the excavation right-of-way revealed the remains of a building and a network of gutters and lead pipes which are part of the continuity of the discoveries that have just been made by Inrap. More recently, surveys carried out on the same locality have made it possible to estimate an area of ​​ancient habitat extending over more than three hectares. Building materials as well as a large quantity of ancient ceramics have been observed there.

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Unfinished Roman-era statue found in Greece

Thursday, December 23rd, 2021

A rare unfinished statue from the Roman Imperial era has been unearthed in Veria in Central Macedonia, Greece. It was discovered last Friday in a rescue excavation of one of very few sites in this ancient city that has not been built on before.

The ancient city of Veria was an important political and military center under the Macedonian kings of the Argead Dynasty, most famously Alexander the Great and his father Philip II. It was second only to the Argead capital of Pella in importance, and after the death of Alexander’s son put an end to the Argead rule, Veria became the seat of the Macedonian Koinon (commonwealth). After the Roman conquest, the koinon was reshaped into a civic institution with a focus on the imperial cult run by local elites. Veria flourished under Rome, eclipsing Pella to become the main regional center. When Diocletian restructured the administration of the empire in 293 A.D., Veria became one of two capitals of the new Roman province of Macedonia. (The other was Thessaloniki.)

The statue’s style suggests it was carved when the city was prospering in the late 2nd or early 3rd century A.D. Just over three feet tall, the statue is missing its head and is still encased in some of the marble block from which it was carved. The nude youth wears a chlamys (cloak) draped around his left shoulder. As it is unfinished and headless, narrowing down the subject is impossible, but Statues of naked men were either athletes or gods in the Greek sculptural tradition, but the subject is unknown here due to its unfinished, headless condition. Hermes, one of the Dioscuri (the twins Castor and Pollux) and Apollo are all possibilities, as is Alexander the Great.

It is the work of a very skilled craftsman who, for whatever reason, never finished the piece. The sculptor, although he had advanced far in the creation of his sculpture, had reached a point almost at the final stage when he apparently decided to abandon the effort, unfinished.

This fact makes the discovery of the statue even more significant, however, since it gives art historians an opportunity to study not only the style, but the production techniques of these types of artworks.

The statue may have been meant as an exact copy or a freer recreation of a famous original; either way, it can help researchers understand the Veroia school of sculpture from a completely different point of view.

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Bronze vessel from Beijing’s origins found in tomb

Monday, December 20th, 2021

Archaeologists have unearthed a bronze lidded vessel in a tomb from the Western Zhou Dynasty (1,046 – 771 B.C.) on the outskirts of Beijing that is believed to be the pair of one found at the site in the 1970s.

The bronze vessel is of the gui type, a wide-mouthed food container with a ringed base. inscriptions on the pot match ones found on a bronze vessel unearthed from a tomb at Liulihe site in 1974, except they’re flipped. The inscription in the lid of the newly-discovered pot is the same as the inscription on the bottom of the pot found in the 1970s. Archaeologists believe they were a matched set made by a single artisan who then mistakenly put the wrong lids on the vessels.

The character “yong,” which refers to the establishment of a city, was found within the inscription, explained Sun Qingwei, a professor at Peking University, direct evidence that one of the ranking officials of the king of the Western Zhou Dynasty had established a city in what is now Liulihe town more than 3,000 years ago.

Bronze vessels served an important ritual purpose for funerary offerings of food and drink and as household goods for the deceased in the afterlife, but in the Western Zhou the practice took on an added significance as status symbols. Only the elite were allowed to own bronzes. Later chroniclers record that the number of bronze “ding” (footed food cauldrons) allowed in graves was strictly apportioned according to noble rank in the Western Zhou, the emperor could have nine, lords could have seven, ministers five, etc.

Excavations at the site in the 1970s were disturbed by high ground water levels. New technology has developed since then to gradually drain and excavate archaeological remains in a way that preserves even delicate organic materials. The team excavated the tombs from outside of the burial chamber inwards. By working this way, they discovered overlapping layers of lacquerware and textiles. Archaeologists also discovered the first wooden arrow shafts from the Western Zhou Dynasty ever found in Beijing, and in another first for Beijing, were able to successfully recover silk patterned fabric from the early Western Zhou Dynasty.

Tomb M1902 was absolutely packed with precious offerings: copper lifting beams, bronze statues, bronze tripods, bronze swords, pottery, lacquerware, silks. Both the coffin and its occupants’ bones are preserved in good condition. On top of the coffin is the skeleton of a dog and a copper bell. It is complete and has never been looted or reused, which is extremely rare.

Tomb M1901 has not been fully excavated yet while the site is gradually drained, but archaeologists can see it was a very rich burial as well, containing a complete set of cart and horses.

The Liulihe residential district in southwestern Beijing contains the earliest remains of the urban settlement that would become Beijing. The tombs rich with artifacts found in Liulihe excavations over the past 50 years have shown that Bronze Age Beijing was the capital of the Yan vassal state of the Western Zhou Dynasty.

“The ongoing excavation will offer much crucial information on studies of the ritual and feudal systems of the Western Zhou period,” Chen Mingjie, director of the Beijing Municipal Cultural Heritage Administration, said. “It is also a key to see how early-stage cities were planned in China.”

Four rammed earth architectural foundations and seven large water wells have also been excavated in Liulihe this year, indicating that full use of ground water was considered by the city’s planners.

“The new findings in Liulihe will further portray a panorama of the Yan vassal state, which was a historical foundation of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei coordinated development today,” Shan Jixiang, head of the Chinese Society of Cultural Relics, said. “It will also demonstrate how diverse cultures mixed with each other and formed a united Chinese civilization.”

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Emperor Wen of Han’s tomb found in Xian

Sunday, December 19th, 2021

A large tomb in the suburbs of Xian City, northwest China, has been identified as the mausoleum of Emperor Wen of the Western Han Dynasty (r.180 – 157 B.C.).

Local legend has it that a mountain known as Phoenix’s Mouth outside Xian City was the emperor’s tomb. The belief has been pervasive for a thousand years, as attested by 10 stone tablets on the mountain inscribed with honors to the emperor and a monument to mark his final resting place that was installed on Phoenix’s Mouth during the Qing Dynasty. However, numerous archaeological surveys have unearthed no evidence of ancient construction. The Phoenix’s Mouth is simply a natural hill, not an imperial burial mound.

What would prove to be Emperor’s Wen’s actual tomb was discovered a mile or so away from the mountain in 2017 during an emergency excavation to counter looting activity. It may have originally been a pyramid as was typical of imperial tombs of the era, but if so, the mound was flattened over the millennia. It’s also possible the Emperor ordered a less prominent tomb, as he was famed and respected for his frugal approach to leadership. It wasn’t recognized as an imperial tomb until excavations revealed its shape and monumental size (230 feet long, 100 feet wide).

The great central tomb, which has not yet been excavated, is surrounded by more than 110 offering pits and tombs. Only eight of them have been excavated so far, and in them archaeologists have discovered massive quantities of artifacts from the Western Han Dynasty, including more than 1,000 painted ceramic figurines, guardians of the imperial tombs, iron swords, copper gears from chariots, seals of government officials, gold ornaments, animal burials, bronze rings and coins. The pottery guardians and attendants, the chariot parts, the weapons and the seals highlight how the mausoleum complex was furnished to create a sort of shadow government for the emperor in the afterlife.

The wealth of offerings are associated with one of the major satellite tombs of the mausoleum. It belonged to Emperor Wen’s mother, Empress Dowager Bo, who died in 155 B.C., living long enough to see her grandson ascend the throne and making her the first grand empress dowager in Chinese history.

Ma [Yongying, a researcher with the Shaanxi Academy of Archaeology,] said that the discovery of the graves of Liu Heng’s empress and his mother further indicated that the grand tomb in the center should be the emperor’s long resting place.

“It is the earliest Western Han royal graveyard in which the emperor’s tomb was put in the center and was surrounded by burial pits,” he said.

The discovery of Baling also means that the whereabouts of all 11 Western Han emperors’ mausoleums in or near Xi’an, then the national capital known as Chang’an, have been confirmed, Ma said.

The grand tomb was a milestone in the evolution of Chinese royal mausoleums, said Liu Qingzhu, an archaeology researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The emphasis of previous rulers’ mausoleums was more on connections within their own families. For example, royal couples were often buried together.

“But Liu Heng’s tomb reflected that the country, represented by the emperor’s power, was the priority,” he said, adding that studies of the tomb also are a key to understanding the forming of China’s national identity.

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Galloway Hoard rock crystal and gold jar bears bishop’s name

Friday, December 17th, 2021

An extraordinary carved rock crystal jar from the Galloway Hoard has been cleaned and conserved by experts at the National Museums Scotland (NMS), revealing it to be a Roman crystal jar wrapped in elaborate layers of gold thread from the late 8th or early 9th century. The base is inscribed with the name of an Anglo-Saxon bishop, strong evidence that some of the treasures in the hoard were taken from a church in the early medieval Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria.

The richest Viking assemblage of high-status objects ever found in Britain or Ireland, the Galloway Hoard was discovered by a metal detectorist in a field near Castle Douglas in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland in September 2014. After a major fundraising campaign, National Museums Scotland was able to acquire the hoard for an ex gratia payment of £1.98 million ($2,550,000) in 2017. Years of complex examination, conservation and cleaning ensued, revealing an astonishing wealth of rare objects including a silver pectoral cross with niello enamel decoration that is unique on the archaeological record, a gold bird-shaped pin, also unique, and a silver-gilt pot of a type known to have been produced in the Carolingian Empire which is one of only three known from Britain and the only one of them found complete with its original lid.

The pot was wrapped in woven textiles. To preserve them and excavate the interior as cautiously as possible, conservators had the pot CT scanned, revealing the treasures packed inside, including a 9th century Anglo-Saxon brooch, an Irish penannular brooch, a gold reliquary pendant and a hinged silver strap. Each object was wrapped in a precious textile like silk samite or fine leather.

While much of the Galloway Hoard outside of the pot has toured Scotland and is currently on display at  Kirkcudbright Galleries in the hoard’s home region of  Dumfries and Galloway, the vessel and its contents are undergoing a three-year project of meticulous conservation and research.

The project has already born extraordinary results. A 3D model created from X-ray imaging that captured the surface of the pot obscured beneath the fabric wrapping revealed it is not of Carolingian origin at all. The iconography of leopards, tigers and Zoroastrian symbols is typical of Sasanian Empire (224-651 A.D.) art, which means this vessel came from Persia, not continental Europe. Radiocarbon dating of textile samples from the three layers wrapped around the vessel found it was produced between 680 and 780 A.D., so it was 100-200 years old by the time the hoard was buried.

One of the objects inside the vessel was the rock crystal jar. When it was first removed, it was bundled in a textile wrapping that proved to be a silk-lined leather pouch. 3D X-ray imagining saw through the wrapping to the object within and revealed the Latin inscription on the base which read: “Bishop Hyguald had me made.”

Conservators painstakingly removed the pouch and cleaned the rock crystal. They found from the surface of the jar that it started out as the capital of Corinthian column made of rock crystal in the late Roman Empire. At some point over the next 500 years, the capital of the crystal column was converted into a jar and wrapped in gold thread.

There is the possibility that this jar still bears trace elements of the potion it once held and that its precise chemicals can be revealed.

[Dr. Martin Goldberg, NMS’s principal curator of early medieval and Viking collections] said: “The type of liquid that we would expect would be something very exotic, perhaps a perfume from the Orient, something’s that’s travelled in the same way that the silk has. There were certain types of exotic oil that were used in anointing kings and ecclesiastical ceremonies.”

Below are the 3D models of the rock crystal jar before and after conservation.

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Neolithic children’s graves found in burial mound Denmark

Thursday, December 16th, 2021

An excavation at a gravel pit at Hedehusene, Denmark, has unearthed the remains of four children buried in a single grave from the Neolithic era, and of single child in a Bronze Age grave. The Neolithic burial dates to around 2000 B.C., the Bronze Age, to between 1700 and 1000 B.C.

The two graves were found in a burial mound. That the mound still contained skeletons in good condition is rare enough, but children’s bones are delicate and prehistoric child graves are vanishingly rare finds in Denmark. It isn’t until the late Middle Ages that children’s tombs become more common on the archaeological record.

The children in the Neolithic grave were young, three of them just three or four years old at time of death. The fourth was a little older. The only grave good found buried with them is a small flint dagger. The child in the individual grave was buried with a bronze bracelet.

“Right now it seems like it’s a graveyard dedicated to children. It is interesting in itself with a burial site with so far a time span between the individual graves. It seems as if one has known that it was a children’s graveyard. It’s a mystery why only children are buried here. However, we can not deny that adults have also been here. For example, we have found a bronze blade at the top of the burial mound, and it is not a typical grave gift for children.”

Katrine Ipsen Kjær explains that it is a known phenomenon that burial mounds were reused in the Stone Age and Bronze Age. When you had a deceased person again, you opened in to the burial mound, pushed the old bones aside and laid the body in to the other deceased.

The bones have been removed for further study. They will be radiocarbon dated to narrow down the date of the burial. If DNA can be extracted, researchers may be able to determine if there were any familial relationships between the deceased. It may also provide information about illnesses they may have suffered.

“Did you bury the four children from the mass grave within a short period of time or over a long period of time? A very short period could indicate a contagious disease,” says [archaeologist] Katrine Ipsen Kjær and concludes:

“It is rare that such old bones contain DNA. But we very much hope that the old bones can give us some answers, because we are dead curious.”

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