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30 May 2005 17:23
Archaeologists have discovered the skeletons of a lord and his retainers in a burial mound at Germany’s most celebrated Bronze Age site.
Archaeologist Olaf Schroeder said the intact, 4 200-year-old mound was one of at least eight “barrows” within view of the ancient holy site that yielded the 3 600-year-old Nebra celestial disc, a bronze and gold depiction of the heavens, in 1999.
Government archaeologists began excavating the wooded area after being tipped off that treasure-hunters were digging over the area in search of gold. The first find was the skeleton of a sentry just inside the entrance to the grave.
Schroeder, who is based in the nearby city of Halle, said: “We kept on digging.
Deep in the barrow, we found the Bronze Age burial chamber.
“In the middle lay the lord, but his upper body and legs were missing. There was a precious bronze knife and a bronze needle next to him, and the remains of his court lay in a circle round him. The skulls were deformed. These people had died violently.
“They were put to death with a blunt instrument. Three were children, aged four, five and 10,” the archaeologist added. The eldest child, a girl, still had her spiral-shaped bronze earrings lying by her skull.
The tomb was dated to 3 000 years ago, making it much newer than the mound itself.
Schroeder said retainers of Bronze Age lords expected to be buried with their master.
“It was just like in Egypt. They had to follow him to the death. But instead of pyramids, our ancestors built monumental graves of earth and sandstone slabs,” he said.
An archaeological park is to be built in the Nebra area, in eastern Germany, to inform visitors about the mysterious culture, which is believed to have lived from farming and to have traded with other parts of the ancient world.
The Nebra disc is believed to be the world’s oldest surviving star map.—Sapa-DPA
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