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Traces of the ancient battle in Jutland told about unknown rituals of Germanic tribes

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Danish archaeologists have discovered on the peninsula Jutland the weapons and remains of more than 80 people who lived from the 2nd century BC to the early 1st century AD, according to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . Judging by the nature of the damage and marks on the bones, people died in battle. Their remains, which had lain on the surface for a while, were thrown into the lake next to them, presumably carrying out some ritual actions on them.

About Germanic tribes at the turn of our era, we know mainly from Roman sources. In 7 AD, the Romans seized the land from the Rhine to the Elbe and founded the province of Germany on this territory. But two years later, local residents rebelled and the attempt to subdue them ended with the death of three Roman legions (according to various estimates, 18-27 thousand people died). After unsuccessful attempts of revenge in a few years, the Romans left the territory north of the Rhine. Again they tried to conquer the territories between the Rhine and the Elbe in the III century. What happened to the inhabitants of Northern Europe between these events, little is known. Presumably, at this time they lived in tribal communities and between them there were few clashes that were caused either by the capture of slaves (as labor) or by the need to destroy unwanted military leaders.

Findings of Danish archaeologists allow you to see how the German warriors behaved after the military conflicts. For the first time, excavations in Alken Enge in the valley of the Illerup River in East Jutland were carried out in the 1950s. In the wetland, where the river flowed into Mosse Lake, the researchers found human remains of at least 26 people, as well as weapons (spearheads, fragments of shields and swords). Radiocarbon dating allowed dating them the beginning of the 1st century AD. The study showed that at this time the wetland was part of the lake, so that the bones were probably thrown to the bottom.

In 2008-2009, and then in 2012-2014, the staff of the Skandeborg Museum together with archaeologists from the University of Aarhus, led by Mette Løvschal, conducted new excavations in Alkenen. This time they found at least 75 men of all ages, ranging from adolescents under the age of 15 to people over the age of 60, on the territory of 75 hectares. In addition to human remains, the researchers found weapons (a battle ax, spearheads, a club, sword fragments), mostly broken or damaged, and several iron knives, ceramic pots and animal bones (dogs, cows, goats and pigs), and in the next stratigraphic layer – fragments of wagons. Researchers conducted a radioisotope analysis of the remains of 30 people and specified the dating – II century BC-54 AD. According to researchers,

Judging by the marks and damages of the skeletons, people died during the military clash: they had wounds, probably inflicted by swords, spears or clubs and some had limbs broken. The blows were mostly applied to the head, hips and legs. On the surface of the earth, the remains of the dead remained approximately six months to a year, then they were thrown into the lake. Until then, predators had managed to gnaw them, apparently dogs, foxes and wolves. With the remains, probably, manipulations and people. Many skulls were crushed and preserved in the form of fragments. Some remains were “collected” in a certain order: including archaeologists found several pelvic bones strung on a stick.

Two years ago, archaeologists found in Kenya victims of the oldest known battle. Two groups of hunter-gatherers collided about 10 thousand years ago, apparently during the raider seizure of food and territory, or it was a conflict between two social groups.

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