Ancient Warrior’s Tomb Unearthed in Romania

Ancient Warrior’s Tomb Unearthed in Romania

Ancient Warrior’s Tomb Unearthed in Romania

Ancient Warrior’s Tomb Unearthed in Romania
The warrior’s tomb was found at one of four archaeological sites unearthed during the construction of a motorway in southeastern Romania.

Workers building a new highway in Romania have unearthed the treasure-laden tomb of a wealthy warrior and his horse. The tomb dates to the fifth century A.D., when the region was controlled by a people known as the Huns.

The tomb is filled with more than 100 artifacts, including weapons, gold-covered objects and pieces of gold jewelry inlaid with gemstones, Silviu Ene(opens in new tab) of the Vasile Pârvan Institute of Archeology in Bucharest, Romania, told Live Science. 

Ene is the lead archaeologist investigating the tomb, which was discovered late last year during the construction of a motorway near the town of Mizil in the southeast of Romania, about 140 miles (220 kilometers) from the Black Sea.

Four separate archaeological sites were unearthed during the road construction, and the wealthy warrior’s tomb — which the researchers described as “princely” — was just a part of the most complex site, Ene said.

“This tomb is of major importance because, in addition to the rich inventory, it was discovered at a site along with 900 other archaeological features — [such as] pits, dwellings, and tombs,” he told Live Science in an email. 

The sword was made from iron and has mostly rusted away, but its scabbard is decorated throughout its length with gold-leaf.

Invading Huns

The ethnicity of the Mizil warrior still isn’t known, but the rich grave goods suggest that he belonged to the ruling class in the region’s Hunnic period, or “migration era,” when it was controlled by the Huns, Ene and his colleagues told the news outlet Hungary Posts English(opens in new tab).

The Huns were nomadic horsemen who originated in Central Asia. During the fourth and fifth centuries A.D. they invaded and occupied the far east of Europe, while displacing other peoples — such as the Vandals and the Goths — from their lands, causing them to migrate west.

The Huns were a particular problem for the Byzantine (or Eastern) Roman Empire, which until that time had controlled much of the lands west of the Black Sea — a region that now includes Romania. 

But the Romans lost the region to the Huns, who went on to invade the Western Roman province of Gaul (modern France and western Germany) and even to attack Rome under their leader Attila the Hun, before losing their territory in Europe to a mixed force of Goths and other Germanic former vassals at the Battle of Nedao — a site now in Croatia — in A.D. 454.

The finds also included several pieces of solid gold jewelery, including this one decorated with gemstones.
The tomb was discovered in bad weather and the excavation had to be completed with flashlights so the road construction project could go ahead.
This part of a saddle for a horse covered with gold-leaf and other objects associated with warhorses were found in the tomb.

Princely tomb

The latest archaeological finds at the Mizil tomb included an iron sword in a gilded  scabbard, a dagger, bundles of iron arrowheads and decorated braces of bone that were once fitted to a wooden bow, Ene said.

The dagger is especially ornate, with a gold-covered hilt inlaid with gemstones, he noted.

Archaeologists also unearthed the remains of a gilded saddle, a bronze cauldron, several decorated “sconces” — fittings to hold candles on a wall — and pieces of gold jewelry, he said.

Several weapons were found in the tomb, including a sword, a dagger, parts of a bow and a bundle of iron arrowheads that seem to have been gathered together in a quiver.
The complete skeleton of the warrior and the skull and leg bones of his horse were found in the tomb. The man seems to have been buried wearing a gold mask.
The sword and the dagger found in the tomb are especially ornate; the scabbard of the sword and the hilt of the dagger are decorated with gold leaf.
The hilt of the dagger is covered with gold leaf and decorated with semi-precious gemstones.

The tomb held the warrior’s complete skeleton, and his face seems to have been covered with a gold mask, the remains of which were also unearthed. However, only a leg and the head of his horse have been unearthed so far, Ene said

The archaeologists told Hungary Posts English that the styles of the newfound objects suggest they are from about the fifth century A.D., when most of Europe north of the Danube River was under the control of the Huns.

The excavation of the tomb had to be completed in bad weather and sometimes with flashlights so that the motorway project could go ahead.

The archaeological investigation is now about “half finished,” Ene said. Over the next few months, the bones and artifacts will be cleaned, investigated and put on public display, while the site of the tomb itself will be built over by the motorway project.