The remains of hundreds of warriors who died in a violent battle around 2,000 years ago have been uncovered in a Danish bog.
For the last two months, excavators have come across damaged bones, fractured skulls and a thigh bone hacked in half, along with axes, spears and clubs.
They will exhume the remains over the next few days in the hope of learning more about the fighters.
Fatal injuries: This fractured skull and a thighbone hacked in half are among the remains of hundreds of warriors who died in a violent battle which have been uncovered in a Danish bog
Evidence suggests more artefacts are buried at the site, located in the peat of an old lake bed in the Alken Enge wetlands near Lake Mossø in East Jutland, Denmark.
Researchers also aim to piece together the events that took place there by carrying out more digs across the 99-acre site and reconstructing the ancient landscape, excavation director Ejvind Hertz, field director of the Scanderborg Museum, said.
The bodies were deposited in a small basin of the lake, which has seen its water level change several times over the years. fractured skull and a thigh bone hacked in half — finds of damaged human bones along with axes, spears, clubs and shields confirm that the bog at Alken Enge was the site of violent conflict
‘It’s clear that this must have been a quite far-reaching and dramatic event that must have had profound effect on the society of the time,’ said Project Manager Mads Kähler Holst, professor of archaeology at Aarhus University.
Macabre: This skull, excavated from the peat of an lake bed in the Alken Enge wetlands in East Jutland, Denmark, bears a mortal wound caused by a spear or arrow
Dr Holst and his team of fifteen archaeologists and geologists have been working to excavate the remains of a large army that was sacrificed at the site around the time of the birth of Christ.
The skeletal remains of hundreds of warriors are believed to lie buried in the Alken Enge wetlands near Lake Mossø in East Jutland, Denmark.
HOW A BOG PRESERVED AN ENTIRE ARMY
The dig is taking place in damp grazing meadows near Jutland’s large lake, the Mossø.
To reach the remains, it is necessary to dig almost two meters below the water table of the Mossø.
´The water has delayed decomposition, which is why the remains are in such good condition when we dig them up,’ said Ejvind Hertz, Curator of Archaeology at Skanderborg Museum.
The remains will be exhumed from the excavation site over the coming days.
Then an international team of researchers will attempt to discover who these warriors were and where they came from by performing detailed analyses of the remains.
‘The dig has produced a large quantity of skeletal remains, and we believe that they will give us the answers to some of our questions about what kind of events led up to the army ending up here,’ said Dr Holst.
However, it is believed the burial site could cover a far larger area.
‘We’ve done small test digs at different places in the 40 hectare Alken Enge wetlands area, and new finds keep emerging,’ says Field Director Ejvind Hertz of Scanderborg Museum, who is directing the dig.
The team will focus on recreating the general outlines of the events that took place at the site by performing smaller digs at different spots across the bog and reconstructing what the landscape might have looked like at the time of the birth of Christ.
A jawbone recovered from the excavation being carried out by Skanderbord Museum, Moesgård Museum and Aarhus University, funded with a grant from the Carlsberg Foundation
At the same time as the archaeological dig, geologists from the Department of Geoscience at AU have been investigating the development of the bog.
‘The geological survey indicates that the archaeological finds were deposited in a lake at a point in time when there was a a smaller basin at the east end of Lake Mossø created by a tongue of land jutting into the lake,’ explains Professor Bent Vad Odgaard, Aarhus University.
This smaller basin became the Alken Enge bog of today.
The geologists’ analyses also indicate that the water level in the area has changed several times.
Mapping these periods of high and low water levels chronologically using geological techniques will tell researchers what the precise conditions were on the site at the time of the mass sacrifice.
Weapon of mass destruction: This iron axe, measuring about 30 inches (75cm), was among a number of artefacts uncovered from the site
The excavation has been carried out by Skanderbord Museum, Moesgård Museum and Aarhus University, funded with a grant from the Carlsberg Foundation.
It follows work done in 2008 and 2009 when single, scattered bones were discovered lying about 6.6 feet under the peat in the same location.