It was a very exciting day when archaeology students from the University of Aarhus unexpectedly uncovered a cache of bones from some 200 bodies dating back to the Iron Age. The standard 3-week research exercise for the students turned into a unique excavation project thanks to the sensational find.
The remains of more than 200 people were discovered at the dig site outside of Skanderborg’s Illerup River Valley in Jutland. The bodies date back some 2,000 years and were found in what was once a deep lake that was a major sacrificial site during the Iron Age. The area is popular with archaeologists because of the boggy environment, which is ideal for the preservation of bones and artefacts.
“This was a defeated army that was sacrificed to the lake at the time. The majority of remains are large arm and leg bones, skulls, shoulder blades and pelvises,” said Ejvind Hertz, the excavation leader and a curator from Skanderborg Museum, to the Copenhagen Post.
Hertz believes there could be more than 1,000 bodies buried under the ancient lakebed since the area has only been lightly explored. After draining the valley in 1950, archaeology teams unearthed 15,000 weapons and military items. But Hertz says this latest find is unique in that the bones were not accompanied by their weapons.
“It is very unusual as there has been no other find of this size before in Western Europe,” Hertz told the Copenhagen Post. “You could consider the Illerup River Valley as a central holy place. There was one god that victims were sacrificed to and another god further along the valley that received sacrificed weapons.”
For the entire article, see CPHPost.