(ORDO NEWS) — In Slovakia, they unearthed a grave in which 38 people were buried seven thousand years ago. But there were no skulls in the burial.
Archaeologists have long been exploring a prehistoric settlement near the city of Vrable in southern Slovakia.
The archaeological site of Vrable-Velké-Lehembi has been dated to 5250-4950 BC and was probably one of the largest Early Neolithic settlements in Central Europe.
There, 313 houses were identified, which were divided into three villages. No less than 80 houses were inhabited at the same time.
Scientists believe that the population of the three villages was 590 inhabitants – an exceptional population density for that period.
Archaeological artifacts belong to the Linear Ware culture, most common in Central Europe in 5500-4900 BC.
One of the three villages is surrounded by a double moat 1.3 kilometers long and thus separated from the others.
In this moat, archaeologists from Slovakia and Germany found the remains of 38 people, including a small child. Their well-preserved skeletons were jumbled together, and all but the child were missing their heads.
This is not the first find of headless skeletons in the Vrable area. Last April, archaeologists from the University of Kiel (Germany) reported that they found skeletons without skulls in the ditch near Vrable.
Then scientists suggested that this method of burial had a sacred meaning: all decapitated bodies were not just thrown into the ditch, but placed in specially dug recesses (graves at the bottom of the ditch). The new grave is completely different.
The remains of at least 38 people were in an area of about 15 square meters in a chaotic manner.
One on top of the other, side by side, stretched out on the stomach, twisted on the side, on the back with outstretched limbs – the position of the skeletons does not indicate that the dead were buried in compliance with any rite.
Rather, it is evidence that most of them were thrown or rolled into a ditch. The question is, where did the heads go?
The location of some of the bones, according to the researchers, indicates that not all the corpses could have fallen into the trench at the same time.
Perhaps already skeletonized bodies were shifted to the middle of the pit to make room for new ones.
Anthropologist from the University of Kiel Katharina Fuchs (Katharina Fuchs) noted that some of the skeletons preserved the first cervical vertebrae.
In her opinion, this indicates a careful removal of the head, and not decapitation as a method of brutal murder.
Previously, researchers assumed that the three villages that were neighbors in the Vrable area at some point began to quarrel due to reduced resources.
And then the excavated part of the ditch is a mass grave where, judging by the careless treatment of the bodies, the enemies were buried.
But first they cut off their heads. Obviously, if this is the picture, then the purpose of the ritual is not to bury without a head, but to get the skull and somehow use it in the future.
In order to present a sufficiently complete picture of what happened at Vrable, many questions must be answered. Were these people villagers or did they come from other places?
Are there any traces of battle wounds on the remaining bones? Were the heads separated from the bodies immediately or only after the start of the decomposition process? For now, this is the subject of further research.
Let us add that the chopping off of heads in the settlement of the early Neolithic took place against the backdrop of serious social changes in Central Europe.
Around 5000 BC, people here left a number of long-used settlements and founded new ones. Architecture, tools and supra-regional trade have changed significantly.
For example, as scientists note, the style of the supra-regional culture of Linear Pottery gives way to regional styles, and starting from 4900 BC, we can no longer speak of Linear Pottery.
Funeral rituals, which for centuries were uniform over a vast territory, also became more diverse over time. In addition to regular burials in outer cemeteries, people were increasingly buried in settlements.
All this together indicates that the traditions that for centuries determined the daily life and rituals of early agricultural societies have lost their relevance. They were replaced by new structures and ideas, formed not so much by supra-regional as by local ideas.
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