Thousands of bones from boys and men likely killed in a ferocious battle 2,000 years ago have been unearthed from a bog in Denmark, researchers said Monday.
Without local written records to explain, or a battlefield to scour for evidence, experts are nevertheless piecing together a story of the Germanic people, often described by the Romans as “barbarians” for their violent nature.
Four pelvic bones strung on a stick were among the remains of at least 82 people found during archaeological excavations at Alken Enge, on Denmark’s Jutland peninsula, indicating an organized and ritual clearing of a battlefield, said the report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The site, which has been studied since 2009, has yielded the earliest discovery of “a large contingent of fighters from a defeated army from the early first century AD,” said the PNAS report.
“The bones are extremely well preserved,” co-author Mette Løvschal, of the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies at Aarhus University, told AFP.
“And you can see stuff that you can normally not see in them, like the gnaw marks of animals and you can see the cut marks from sharp weapons. That is highly unusual,” she said.
The more than 2,300 human bones were contained in peat and lake sediments over 185 acres (75 hectares) of wetland meadows. Radiocarbon-dating put them between 2 BC and 54 AD.
In this era, Roman soldiers were pressing an expansion northward, and around 7 AD, the…