Archaeologists found what they are calling a “Swedish Pompeii” at an ancient fort on the island of Öland. However, while Pompeii’s ruins were caused by a massive volcano, Sweden’s version appears more like mass murder.
The fort dates back to the 5th century and five bodies have already been unearthed among its ruins. Archaeologists from Lund University in Sweden are responsible for the find.
Helene Wilhelmson, a researcher who specializes in the study of bones, explained, “It’s more of a frozen moment than you normally see in archaeology. It’s like Pompeii: Something terrible happened, and everything just stopped.”
During the 5th century, it was a custom for Scandinavians to burn their dead by way of a funeral pyre. Because of this, very few uncremated remains have been recovered in the past. Considering how many bones archaeologists found at the Swedish Pompeii site, they are questioning whether anyone was left alive to light the pyres.
Wilhelmson added, “There are so many bodies, it must have been a very violent and well-organized raid.” However, the people who died on Öland weren’t killed for their treasure, and the remaining jewels weren’t plundered by anyone after the attack. Archaeologists discovered gilded brooches still buried at the site 1,500 years after its destruction.
It’s possible, considering the amount of bloodshed Öland likely saw, that the site became taboo after the attack. WIlhelmson explained, “I don’t think anyone dared go near it for a very long time.”
Archaeologist Nicolo Dell’Unto, also with Lund University, is working at the site to create computerized 3-D models. When they are completed, he hopes to recreate the ruined fort and reconstruct the crime scene digitally. In doing so, he and other archaeologists may just solve the mystery of what happened at the Swedish Pompeii site.
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]