4,500-year-old skeleton found in German country grave ‘lovingly bordered with field stones’, providing new insight into ancient burial practices
- Archaeologists in the German countryside discovered a 4,500-year-old grave
- It contained the remains of a woman buried in a north-facing fetal position
- The positioning is similar to that in other locations in Europe, indicating a possible shared practice that reached as far as Scotland
Researchers in Germany discovered the approximately 4,500-year-old remains of a woman buried in a simple but ‘lovingly’ made grave.
The discovery was made by Philipp Roskoschinski and a team of archaeologists from Archaeros during an excavation in Uckermark, a rural province about 60 miles northeast of Berlin.
Although the grave itself was modest, the posture and position of the woman indicate a possible connection to other ancient burial practices seen as far back as Scotland.
Researchers in Germany have excavated the remains of a woman believed to have lived about 4,500 years ago, buried on her side and facing north in a fetal position, similar to the position in which other ancient remains have been found across Europe
“I’ve never found anything like it,” said Roskschinski in an interview with Tagespeigel.
The remains were placed in one of the oldest documented grave positions in Europe, rolled on her right side and facing north, with her legs and arms bent in a kind of fetal position.
It’s a similar position to any other body on the Scottish island of Tiree, which researchers believe was more than 5,000 years old, suggesting the practice may be a sign of some sort of shared practice shared by many different populations across Europe practiced.
There are more questions than answers for the Uckermacker grave and little evidence of what kind of life the woman would have led, according to a report in Newsweek.
“Unfortunately, there were no other finds in the grave that could tell us more about the woman’s life,” said Roskoschinski.
“But the site was lovingly surrounded by field stones.”
There were no other ornaments or funeral markings on the grave, other than a few “lovingly placed field stones.” The team is now working on conducting DNA analysis and other laboratory tests to learn more about the woman’s health, lifestyle, and potential social status
The team plans to run a series of genetic tests on the remains to try to learn about possible health issues the woman may have had.
They will also examine teeth samples for hints about her diet to try and learn more about her lifestyle and, possibly, her social status.
The remains on Tiree showed clear indications of rickets, a disease caused by vitamin D deficiency, often due to lack of sunlight.
Investigators hypothesized that the condition could indicate that the woman had been forced to stay indoors for most of her life, perhaps indicative of a special religious role.
WHO WAS THE WOMAN OF TIREE?
The female was reported to be between 25 and 30 years old when she died and was between 1.4 m and 4 m long.
Radiocarbon analysis dates her body between 3340 and 3090 BC – placing it in the Neolithic era.
Isotope analysis showed that she was nearby but did not eat sea fish.
This seaside location and the supply of fish should have given her enough vitamin D to prevent rickets.
Therefore, experts believe she was kept indoors or wore clothes that prevented adequate absorption of sunlight.
Speculating about what might be the reason for this incarceration, the researchers said she “could have had a special religious role that confined her to a dark interior.”
However, if she was a respected religious person, it is unlikely that her grave would have been so fundamental, suggesting that she may have been a witch or a lower class spiritist.
Alternatively, the experts think she may have worn a costume that covered her body and protected her face, or that she could have been a house slave.