Young man’s grave discovered at Germanic Langobard burial site

Germanic Langobard burial site

Archaeologists have discovered an almost intact skeleton of a sixth century warrior during a dig near the town of Pasohlávky in south Moravia. The grave of the young man, who was buried with his spear, two dogs and a horse bridle, belongs to one of the largest Germanic Langobard burial sites in the country.

Germanic Langobard burial site | Photo: Zuzana Loskotová,  Archaeological Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic

The burial site located on the southern bank of the Nové Mlýny reservoir is probably the most significant necropolis from the Migration Period on the territory of the Czech Republic.

Archaeologists, who started researching the site in May this year, have already identified some 250 graves in the area, using geophysical research and aerial photography, but their total number is likely to be much higher.

Unfortunately, few of the graves have been preserved untouched to this day, since they were systematically looted during the Migration Period, says Zuzana Loskotová from the Brno Institute of Archaeology, which is part of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

The exceptionally preserved condition of the newly discovered grave is therefore very unique and it could help archaeologists gain a better understanding of the Langobard population, including their health and eating habits:

Photo: Zuzana Loskotová,  Archaeological Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic

“We are undertaking a number of analyses, including strontium analyses, where we can investigate where the inhabitants came from or whether they are of local origin.

“Then there is carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses that might tell us something about the diet of the inhabitants. We will also carry out paleopathological analyses, which looks at what diseases they had and what injuries they suffered during their lifetime.”

The Migration Period, which marked a huge cultural and political transformation of Europe, but also the collapse of the original ancient states, provides archaeologists with some of the most challenging questions, says Balász Komoróczy, director of the Brno branch of the Institute of Archaeology:

Balázs Komoróczy | Photo: Czech Television

“All of a sudden, new cultural and ethnic groups appear, large entities move over a considerable territory of Europe. And at the end of this process, sometime at the end of the 6th century, practically a new world appears, out of which medieval and even modern Europe is being built.”

According to Komoróczy, the study of the migrating tribes of the era could help shed light on the processes that led to the disappearance of civilizations and the emergence of new cultures. It can also shed light on the possible causes of migration, he says:

“We can examine, for example, whether it was related to climatic conditions. It is a period in which we can examine phenomena that we do not see in stable eras when populations settle in one place for a long period of time.”

The current research of Germanic burial sites in Moravia is part of a larger European project called HistoGenes. It analyses the genetics of Central and Eastern European populations from the 5th to the 8th century with the aim of revealing more information about the shaping of early medieval Europe.

Authors: Ruth Fraňková , Martina Rasch
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