Archaeologists in Denmark have discovered the site of a “barbarian” war ritual after recovering 2,095 human bones that had been hidden away in peat sediment for the past 2,000 years. The bones were found very close to Lake Mossø on a site known as Alken Enge, which is located along the Jutland Peninsula.
When scientists examined the human remains at the site, it was found that all of the individuals would have been males who were still quite young at the time of their deaths, and that all of these males died at the same time at some point after the start of the 1st century AD, according to National Geographic.
From the large number of wounds on these individuals that never healed, along with the presence of many weapons like swords, knives, shields and spears, archaeologists believe that this location was once the battleground of a fierce fight between different Germanic tribes, individuals that some in the Roman Empire deemed as “wild and savage barbarians.”
While it could certainly be said that these German barbarians helped to dismantle the Roman Empire, this would have been many centuries after the fight in Denmark would have taken place. In fact, before the year 200 AD, archaeologists have never really found anything resembling a Germanic battlefield of this kind before, which is just one of the many reasons that the find is so very amazing.
The find has challenged archaeologists to rethink the estimated size of armies in Iron Age Europe https://t.co/CFmfcrkIvA
— National Geographic (@NatGeo) May 21, 2018
The human bones that were found in Denmark were originally discovered between the years 2009 and 2014 over a space of 75 hectares, and while the bones were found to have belonged to 82 individuals, archaeologists believe that at least 380 men may have perished on this Germanic battlefield.
What this shows archaeologists is that this fight must have been of extreme importance to those involved if that many men were engaged in battle. When looking at bodies found in the Hjortspring Mose bog, for instance, only around 80 to 100 people were found here, as ScienceAlert report.
While the battle of the “barbarians” wasn’t fought around the lake, archaeologists believe the location was used as the perfect spot to deposit the human bones after rituals had been conducted on them, according to their research.
“The animal tooth marks show that the bones were exposed to scavenging animals for a period of 0.5-1 years, during which time the human remains must have become at least partly skeletonized. The assemblages of bones and the four ossa coxae threaded on a stick demonstrate that the remains of the combatants were deliberately collected at a time when the bones were largely skeletonized. Alken Enge provides unequivocal evidence that the people in Northern Germania had systematic and deliberate ways of clearing battlefields. Practices of corporeal dismemberment, modification, and bone assemblage composition suggest a ritual dimension in the treatment of the human corporeal remains.”
The fascinating new study on the discovery of the ‘barbarian’ bones that were found in Denmark can be read in the journal PNAS.