Human Remains From a Bronze Age Site in the Tollense Valley

Victims of a battle?

Authored by: Ute Brinker , Stefan Flohr , Jürgen Piek , Jörg Orschiedt

The Routledge Handbook of the Bioarchaeology of Human Conflict

Print publication date:  November  2013
Online publication date:  December  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415842198
eBook ISBN: 9781315883366
Adobe ISBN: 9781134677979


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Over a distance of about two kilometres, human skeletal remains have repeatedly been found since the late 1970s at different find spots in the Tollense Valley north of Altentreptow, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Germany. The first finds mainly consisted of cranial bones and derive from material formerly excavated in the course of dredging works in the river bed. Little importance had been given to the bones owing to the largely unknown find-context and age of the remains. This changed after the discovery of a humerus with an embedded flint arrowhead between the head and the greater tubercle. Thereupon, a survey of the site of Weltzin 20 has been carried out by the former Landesamt für Bodendenkmalpflege (Jantzen 1997, 2004; Jantzen et al. 2011). Several human and animal bones, the latter mostly stemming from horses, had been uncovered during the survey. Apart from the humerus, special attention has been paid to a well preserved cranium that exhibits a peri-mortal depressed fracture. Moreover, two worked wooden objects that have been assessed as simple weapons (clubs) have been found at the site. Radiocarbon dating of a human bone and one of the clubs revealed corresponding results of c. 1300 bc; thereby dating the site to Period III of the Nordic Bronze Age (Jantzen et al. 2008). However, despite the discovery of further human skeletal remains along the river banks of the site of Weltzin 20 in 1996 and 1999, and at Weltzin 21 in 1996, no further research was then conducted on these sites. New research at these remarkable find-spots has been carried out since 2007 and is directed by the Landesamt für Kultur und Denkmalpflege, department of Archäologische Denkmalpflege and the department of Ur-und Frühgeschichte of the University of Greifswald. Since 2009, an interdisciplinary investigation on the sites is conducted, supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (Jantzen et al. 2011). The investigations include underwater surveys, which led to the discovery of numerous human and animal bones. Since the summer of 2010 research of the entire site, whose dimensions were not known until now, has been financially supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation).

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