Mass grave of people without Neolithic skulls found in Slovakia

(ORDO NEWS) —  Archaeologists have discovered in Slovakia mass graves of people who died around 5250-4950 BC. In the trench, they unearthed numerous bones belonging to at least 35 people, many of whom were teenagers. Scientists noticed that among these remains there was only one skull.

The joint expedition of the Institute of Archeology of the Slovak Academy of Sciences and the University of Kiel, led by Dr. Ivan Heben, is exploring for the seventh season one of the largest Stone Age settlement complexes in Central Europe, discovered in the small town of Vrable in southern Slovakia.

This monument, which covers an area of ​​about 50 hectares, is dated by archaeologists to about 5250-4950 BC, that is, the Neolithic era. A detailed geophysical survey of the settlement revealed the remains of over 300 longhouses.

At the same time, according to researchers, at each individual stage of the existence of the settlement, the number of such residential buildings could reach 50-70 pieces. In addition, the settlement was surrounded by a moat and a palisade.

Mass grave of people without Neolithic skulls found in Slovakia 1
The plan of one of the entrances to the settlement was cleared

Archaeologists noted that already in past seasons they found a burial in the settlement. However, this year they unearthed a trench that contained a large accumulation of human bones . According to researchers, it contained the remains of at least 35 people.

According to anthropologist Zuzana Gukelev from the Institute of Archeology of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, the bodies of the deceased were first buried in different positions, such as lying on their backs, on their stomachs, on their sides and in a frog pose.

She noted that almost all of these people are missing skulls – archaeologists have found only one that belonged to a child . According to preliminary estimates, many of these people were teenagers.

Mass grave of people without Neolithic skulls found in Slovakia 2
Gradual excavation of the skeletons of M. Ruttkay

Through additional research, scientists expect to find out why all these people ended up in a common grave. Perhaps they were victims of mass violence, an outbreak of an epidemic, or they were sacrificed as part of a ritual.

The researchers also intend to find out how these people are genetically related, as well as to establish when they lost their skulls. In addition to this mass grave, archaeologists discovered a drilled human tooth that could have been part of an amulet.

Other related excavations

Old mass graves containing victims of epidemics, ritual murder, or other similar events are quite rare. In Europe, similar objects dating back to the Neolithic era are known.

  • So, in Germany, during excavations in Thalheim, archaeologists discovered a pit about three meters long, in which were the remains of 18 adults and 16 children who died a violent death, as evidenced by numerous injuries. This object belongs to the representatives of the Linear Pottery culture and dates back to around 4900-4800 BC.
  • Another example of a mass grave (Asparn-Schletz), belonging to the same culture, was discovered by archaeologists in Austria. There, in the surrounding moat, the researchers found the remains of 67 people killed around 5207-4849 BC.
  • There are also examples of mass graves of people without visible signs of violence – for example, a settlement in Mennville in France or a monument to Wiederstadt in Germany.
  • Also noteworthy is the mass burial of the globular amphora culture, discovered in 2011 near the Polish village of Kosice. There, archaeologists unearthed the remains of 15 men, women and children who died around 2880-2776 BC. Anthropologists have established that all these people were killed on the head. Paleogenetic analysis showed that the remains belonged to seven women and eight men who were related. And the people who buried them knew about it. They imprisoned the bodies of close relatives next to each other, such as mothers with children, and brothers with sisters.

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