News & Opinion | July 13, 2018 5:00 am

New Scale of Neolithic Brutality Revealed at 7,000-Year-Old Gravesite

Skeletons found at a German burial pit appear to be remains of a mass execution.

Neolithic graves were usually carefully arranged, but the recent 7,000-year-old mass grave found in Germany showed bodies tossed in on top of each other. (Schellhorn/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
ullstein bild via Getty Images

At a mass grave in Halberstadt, Germany, that dates back roughly 7,000 years, nine bodies were found dumped unceremoniously into a burial pit, with their limb tangled, exactly the opposite of the precise arrangements typically seen in Early Neolithic graves. Eight of the bodies were men, the youngest was between 16 and 20 years old, and the ninth was a woman between the ages of 21 to 26. All showed signs of blunt force cranial trauma. The archaeologists who discovered the site say it reveals unsettling violence practiced by the first farming settlers of Central Europe.

Scientists analyzed the isotopes in the bones and teeth and discovered that the people were “interlopers,” reports Smithsonian Magazine. The remains presented different isotopes than those present in the remains of other nearby bodies. It is unclear where the nine individuals came from, but it is clear they were brutally killed. The injuries are located almost exclusively at the back of the head and it appears they were part of a mass execution, the likes of which have never been seen at a site dating back to the Neolithic era.