(ORDO NEWS) — Someone buried a woman 1,400 years ago and provided her with unusual grave goods.
The Bavarian State Office for the Protection of Monuments (BLFD) reported an unusual find. In Middle Franconia, archaeologists unearthed a burial, the preliminary age of which was estimated at 1400 years.
The grave, approximately 1.3 by 2.7 meters in size, contained the remains of a woman who died at the age of 40 to 50 years.
Around her neck she wore a string of small colored glass beads. A pendant was attached to the belt, on which, among other things, there were two brooches, one of which was decorated with almandine (a type of pomegranate), and a large bead made using millefiori technology (mosaic glass, usually with a floral pattern).
Even in the grave they found an iron frame, which, upon further examination, turned out to be a folding chair. Not the most frequent item of grave goods, you will agree. Its size when folded is approximately 70 by 45 centimeters. According to preliminary dating, the chair was made at the end of the 6th century.
“This find, which at first glance seems so modern, is an absolute rarity and is of the greatest cultural and historical interest, as it gives an idea of the grave goods of the noble strata of the population and the early use of furniture,” said Professor Mathias Pfeil (Mathias Pfeil), General Manager BLFD.
The end of the 6th century is a period that in historiography is called the Dark Ages. First of all, because we simply do not have sources for those times.
The fall of the Roman Empire (this happened in 476, when the leader of the German mercenaries Odoacer dethroned the last emperor of Rome) led not only to numerous wars between all the tribes coming from the east, but also to a general decrease in the level of literacy and the disappearance of chronicler traditions.
Therefore, it is often possible to judge how people lived in the early Middle Ages only by archaeological finds. This is the second time a folding chair from this period has been found in Germany.
In total, 29 of them were found in Europe – and all in burials. The latter, most likely, is explained by the fact that in the graves (no matter how they are arranged) objects are preserved better than those used in everyday life. Only six of the found chairs have an iron frame.
The chair was located at the feet of the buried woman, next to it lay the bones of an animal – perhaps a sacrificial one, or perhaps from a set of funeral offerings.
Remains of wooden panels indicate a closed burial chamber. Next to the female grave, archaeologists discovered a male one, located almost parallel and in the west-east direction. The deceased had a full set of weapons (spear, shield, sword), a belt with a bronze buckle and a waist bag.
Now the restorers are examining the folding chair, which was taken out as a block, in the restoration workshops of the Bavarian State Office for the Protection of Monuments and are gradually dismantling it.
A press release from the agency said that funerary items such as this folding chair are extremely rare. For this reason, studies have interpreted them as “special gifts.” That is, the inclusion of such an item in the grave inventory indicates that the deceased occupied a high position or had a high social rank.
Chairs are mostly found in female graves. Of most of the samples, only individual details have survived, such as nails or axles, since other elements were made of organic material – wood or ivory, as well as leather or fabric that had long decayed. For a long time, these finds were mistakenly considered to be roasting skewers or hunting tools.
In general, folding chairs made of iron and bronze have been made since Antiquity. And the fact that they are found in the burials of the early Middle Ages says that the traditions of Rome were not completely lost in the Dark Ages – although we have no written sources on this issue.
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