Category Archives: GERMANY

300,000-Year-Old Wooden Throwing Stick Found in Germany

300,000-Year-Old Wooden Throwing Stick Found in Germany

In Germany, a 300,000-year-old hunting stick able to kill big predators has been discovered. Used by the extinct human subspecies Homo heidelbergensis, the wooden throwing stick was capable of killing waterbirds and horses during the Ice Age.

It was achieved by conducting trials and looking at what would strike the target at full height, with the length of the throwing stick being 25 inches, and the speed of 98 feet (30 metres) per second.

German researchers have said the weapon was thrown like a boomerang, with one sharp side and one flat side, and spun powerfully around a centre of gravity. 

300,000-Year-Old Wooden Throwing Stick Found in Germany
The new throwing stick in situ at the time of discovery. The maker of the throwing stick used stone tools to cut the branches flush and then to smooth the surface of the artefact

But when in flight, the weapon, also referred to as ‘rabbit stick’ or ‘killing stick’, did not return to the thrower.

Instead, the rotation helped to maintain a straight, accurate trajectory which increased the likeliness of striking prey.    

Picture of throwing stick from Schöningen, Lower Saxony, Germany, with four views and engravings

‘They are effective weapons over different distances, among other things when hunting water birds,’ said Dr Jordi Serangeli, professor at the Institute for Prehistory, Early History and Medieval Archaeology at the University of Tübingen in Germany. 

‘Bones of swans and ducks are well documented from the find layer. 

‘In addition, it is likely that larger mammals, such as horses that were often hunted on the shores of Lake Schöningen, were startled and driven in a certain direction with the throwing stick.’ 

Hunters on the Schöningen lakeshore likely used the throwing stick to hunt waterbirds

Researchers uncovered the weapon during an archaeological excavation at the Schöningen mine in Lower Saxony, northern Germany. Schöningen has yielded by far the largest and most important record of wooden tools and hunting equipment from the Paleolithic,’ said Professor Nicholas Conard, founding director of the Institute of Archaeological Sciences at the University of Tübingen.

Detailed analysis by the researchers showed how the maker of this type of throwing stick used stone tools to cut the branches flush and then smooth the surface. The stick, carved from spruce wood, is around 25 inches (64.5cm) long, just over 1 inch (2.9cm) in diameter and weighs 264 grams.

This weapon also had fractures and damage consistent with that found on similar experimental examples.

For the first time, researchers say the study provides clear evidence of the function of such a weapon.

Late Lower Palaeolithic hominins in Northern Europe were ‘highly effective hunters’ with a wide array of wooden weapons that are rarely preserved, they say.

‘300,000 years ago, hunters had used different high-quality weapons such as throwing sticks, javelins and thrust lances in combination,’ said Professor Conard.

Researchers attribute the discovery to the ‘outstanding’ preservation of wooden artefacts in the water-saturated lakeside sediments in Schöningen.

‘The chances of finding Paleolithic artefacts made of wood are normally zero.

‘Only thanks to the fabulously good conservation conditions in water-saturated lakeside sediments in Schöningen can we document the evolution of hunting and the varied use of wooden tools.’  The discovery has been detailed further in Nature Ecology & Evolution. 

Prehistoric teeth fossils dating back 9.7 million years ‘could rewrite human history’

Prehistoric teeth fossils dating back 9.7 million years ‘could rewrite human history’

In Southwestern Germany, a team of researchers discovered teeth that were millions of years old and presumably belonged to an ancient Euro-Asian primate last September. Yet after the discovery was made public, controversy opened up about the interpretation of our earliest existence.

News of the sensational discovery was only made public recently since the team who dug up the ancient teeth in the town of Eppelsheim wanted to be sure the find was as significant as they had initially believed.

“It’s completely new to science, and it is a big surprise because nobody had expected such a tremendous, extremely rare discovery,” Herbert Lutz, head of the excavation team at the Natural History Museum in Mainz, told Deutsche Welle.

Lutz had been digging at the site in Eppelsheim for 17 years where the Rhine River used to flow, excavating riverbed sediments approximately 10 million years old. the area is “well known in science” and famous for its primate fossils.

At the end of 2016, as his team decided to finally wrap up the excavation, “just in the last second, these two teeth came to light. We really weren’t expecting such a tremendous discovery,” Lutz said.

The excavation site in Eppelsheim.
The excavation site in Eppelsheim.

Both teeth are completely preserved, too. The teeth look “excellent” and are “shining like amber,” though no longer white, Lutz said.

The 9.7 million-year-old canine tooth and upper molar – found only 60 centimeters apart and thus believed to belong together – resemble those of great apes who lived in Africa 2.9 to 4.4 million years ago. According to Lutz and his colleagues, the teeth closely resemble some extinct African relatives of humans.

Molar (left) and canine (right) fossils found in Germany raise questions about human history. Credit: Naturhistorisches Museum Mainz

Since the official unveiling of the teeth, global media outlets have been questioning whether the find is capable of rewriting human history since it seems to go against theories of human beings originating from Africa.

The teeth are unlike anything found in Europe and Asia, Lutz cautiously claims.

“It’s a complete mystery where this individual came from, and why nobody’s ever found a tooth like this somewhere before,” he said in an interview with Research Gate.

But some experts say that the teeth hardly “force us to reexamine the theory that humans originated from Africa,” arguing that the fossils “more likely belonged to a very distant branch on the primate family tree,” reported National Geographic.

Other experts state that whether the teeth really belong to the hominoid classification (apes, chimpanzees, etc.)  is questionable.

Expert on the teeth of humans’ extinct relatives and paleoanthropologist at the University of Toronto, Bence Viola, says the molar found contradicts any case for a human connection.

“I think this is much ado about nothing,” he told National Geographic. “The molar, which they say clearly comes from the same individual, is absolutely not a hominin, and I would say also not a hominoid.”

The majority of the experts National Geographic spoke to said the molar found likely belongs to a species of an extinct, primitive branch of primates that lived in Asia and Europe between seven and 17 million years ago.

World War II–Era Code Machine Recovered from Baltic Sea

World War II–Era Code Machine Recovered from Baltic Sea

From the bottom of the Baltic Sea in Europe, three-quarters of a century after it was lost at the end of the Second World War, one of the most famous puzzles on the planet has been recovered.

A mechanical encryption device that once confounded the Allies while allowing Adolf Hitler’s Nazis to make battle plans in secret, German divers say they have dredged up a long-lost Enigma machine.

The typewriter-like machine was found on the seafloor of Gelting Bay in northeast Germany, where divers were working to collect old fishing nets on behalf of the World Wildlife Federation.

The Enigma cipher machine was discovered on the seabed in Gelting Bay near Flensburg, Germany.

It’s believed the Nazis tossed the device overboard in an attempt to destroy it in the final days of the war, as part of an effort to keep German technology out of the Allies’ hands.

Divers initially thought the object was an old typewriter, but underwater archaeologist Florian Huber says he recognized it after it was brought up to the surface.

“I’ve made many exciting and strange discoveries in the past 20 years,” he told Reuters. “But I never dreamed that we would one day find one of the legendary Enigma machines.”

While searching for abandoned fishing nets, German divers discovered this Enigma machine in the Baltic Sea.

The Enigma machine was essentially an encrypted typewriter that allowed the Germans to send and receive messages without fear of them being intercepted and decoded by the enemy.

The Nazis used the machines to coordinate their war efforts for years, thanks to a shifting encryption process that would change every 24 hours.

British cryptographers worked tirelessly to decode the encrypted messages at Bletchley Park.

Legendary mathematician Alan Turing is widely credited with finally cracking the code in 1941, which allowed the Allies to spy on German communications in the latter days of the war. The breakthrough came after Britain seized an Enigma machine from a captured German sub.

The codebreakers’ work is thought to have helped end the war and save thousands of lives. It also inspired the Oscar-nominated film The Imitation Game in 2014.

Huber says the Enigma machine found in Gelting Bay was likely lost in May 1945, around the time that the Germans surrendered.

German forces were ordered to sink approximately 50 of their own submarines in Gelting Bay at the end of the war, in an effort to prevent the subs from being captured. Crews were also specifically instructed to destroy the Enigma machines on board.

“We suspect our Enigma went overboard in the course of the event,” said Huber, who works for an underwater research firm called Submarines.

The divers have decided to donate the device to a museum where it can be restored and put on display.

Surviving Enigma machines are rare in 2020, although examples can be found at museums scattered across the world, including Canada. The restoration process for the new discovery is expected to take about a year.

‘Lady Of Bietikow’ May Have Died Of A Tooth Infection 5,000 Years Ago

‘Lady Of Bietikow’ May Have Died Of A Tooth Infection 5,000 Years Ago

In Germany, a middle-aged woman who died more than 5,000 years ago has been found. The Neolithic woman was found during excavations in the northeastern city of Uckermark for the construction of a new collection of wind turbines.

Experts are still seeking to ascertain aspects of her life, including her cause of death, nicknamed the ‘Lady of Bietikow‘ after the town she was found near.

As they were extremely worn, possibly a symptom of a fatal tooth infection, her teeth may provide clues, experts speculate. According to local media, the skeleton had been buried in a village in a squatting place, one of the oldest known forms of burial.

Dubbed the ‘Lady of Bietikow’ after the town she was found near, experts are now trying to determine details of her life, including her cause of death

Investigations have shown that she was between 30 and 45 years old and died more than 5,000 years ago. 

All that is left of Lady Bietikow are bones and some fragments of clothing, but researchers have still managed to piece together some details about her life.

During the time she was alive, during the Neolithic period, humans were just starting to eat grains, as they could be stored more easily than meat and could also be used as a means of payment, according to anthropologist Bettina Jungklaus.

However, this led to a deterioration in people’s general health. This can be seen in the state of the Lady of Bietikow’s teeth, which are severely eroded and missing completely in some places, Jungklaus said.

Investigations have shown that she was between 30 and 45 years old and died more than 5,000 years ago. All that is left of Lady Bietikow are bones and some fragments of clothing

‘Normally there is enamel on the surface of the teeth. But here it is heavily worn, chewed off,’ she said.

‘This allows us to draw conclusions about her diet: it was probably very rich in fibre, very hard. There are certain grains that cause the teeth to wear out easily.’

It remains unclear whether the condition of Lady Bietikow’s teeth indicates an illness or even the cause of her death, and further analysis will aim to determine this. 

Researchers are now hoping to find out more about her life, including whether she came from the Uckermark region or had immigrated there from elsewhere.

Both the Lady Bietikow and the famed skeleton ‘Oetzi the Iceman’ lived during the same period of time.   

Oetzi is a stunningly preserved corpse that was found in 1991 by two hikers in the Oetztal Alps on the border between Austria and Italy.

Ötzi, also called the Iceman, is the natural mummy of a man who lived between 3400 and 3100 BCE. The mummy was found in September 1991 in the Ötztal Alps, hence the nickname “Ötzi”, near Similaun mountain and Hauslabjoch on the border between Austria and Italy.

His body was extremely well preserved, with organs, skin and other organic material still intact – researchers were even able to see what he had eaten hours before he died. 

‘You can compare Oetzi and the Lady of Bietikow in terms of age,’ said Philipp Roskoschinski, one of the two archaeologists who made the discovery in the state of Brandenburg, which surrounds Berlin.  

‘The discovery of Oetzi was much more spectacular due to the conditions of preservation,’ Roskoschinski said.

Ancient Germanic lord was buried with a circle of six women

Ancient Germanic lord was buried with a circle of six women

In Saxony-Anhalt, close to Brücken-Hackpfüffel Archaeologists have discovered the complex grave of a Germanic lord or prince who lived 1,500 years ago during the Great Migration.

Experts claim that for 40 years the site has been the most valuable archaeological discovery in the world and have kept the exact location of the dig a secret to stave off thieves. Excavations got underway when builders were clearing land for a new chicken farm, and stumbled across the cemetery of a royal court.

Considering the high value of the person in the crypt, the researchers have yet to locate the remains of the prince they suspect was laid to rest there.

They speculate his ashes may be inside a bronze cauldron in the central tomb, which is around 13 feet by 13 feet in size. The cauldron, the focal point of the mounded tomb, is surrounded by six women buried in a radial alignment from the pot, like the hands of a clock, The Times reports.

Researchers say these may well have been concubines or widows belonging to the person being buried, but it remains a mystery as to whether they were slain for the burial or sacrificed themselves.  

Speculation is rife about the cause of the bizarre arrangement, but researchers say it is too soon to talk of a ritualistic cult death.  

Ancient Germanic lord was buried with a circle of six women
This aerial picture shows the central tomb of the burial. This shows the remains of 11 animals, including cattle. horses and dogs
The site (pictured) has been unearthed in Saxony-Anhalt, near Brücken-Hackpfüffel accidentally by builders hoping to create a new chicken farm. Experts have kept its exact location a secret

It also holds the remains of eleven animals, including cattle, horses and dogs.  Beyond this central tomb, believed to be of a high-ranking individual, are around 60 other graves, subsequently buried in the cemetery to honour the Lord. 

The cauldron, believed to be central to the tomb’s history, was block lifted out of the ground and will be carefully analysed in a laboratory.  

‘We haven’t found the prince himself yet. But maybe his ashes are in the bronze cauldron, ‘ archaeologist Susanne Friederich from the Landesmuseum Halle said. 

Also inside the central tomb are the remains of 11 animals, including cattle, dogs and horses. These animals were reburied at this location, further indication the site was created to honour a high-ranking person in society. 

Ms Friederich adds: ‘The unique finds suggest that high-ranking personalities were buried here.’ 

It is thought the central burial chamber would have been part of a mounded tomb, with the dozens of surrounding graves added later.

These incredibly detailed and well-preserved clasps were some of the ornate grave goods found at the royal cemetery. Archaeologist Arnold Muhl shows artistic vestment clasps in his workshop. The objects are 1,500 years old and come from 60 undamaged graves alongside the tomb of a Germanic lord who lived during the Great Migration
This gold coin features the head of the Eastern Roman Emperor Zeno who lived around 480 and was found at the burial site

Initial estimates date the site as being from between AD480 and AD530, a period of time following the fall of the Roman Empire which saw many Germanic tribes, such as the Huns, invade territories which were no longer under Roman protection.   

‘The cemetery has almost 60 graves,’ said archaeologist Arnold Muhl.

‘In the graves, among other things, a glass decorated bowl, a spindle whorl made of glass, several silver-gilded robe clips, a sword and a shield boss made of iron as well as a gold coin of the Eastern Roman emperor Zeno around 480 were found. 

‘The pieces of glass come from the Gallo-Roman workshops along the Rhine, only they mastered this technique.’ 

Other finds include an immaculate pointed glass beaker adorned with curved grooves which would have housed a floating wick lamp and garment clips. 

The clips, which include pieces of snagged textile, are thought to indicate the presence of a Germanic tribe, either the Longobards, Alemanni or Thuringians. 

The site is in immaculate condition due to its unique location, which inadvertently protected it from damage. The burial ground was in a natural hollow which, over time, was covered by around four feet (1.20 meters) of sediment, which provided a protective layer. 

This protected it from any ploughing and also hid it from the view of any treasure hunters or grave robbers. By analysing the bones and artefacts, the scientists hope to gain concrete insights into people’s lives at the time of the Great Migration.

Archaeology Intern Unearths Spectacular, 2,000-Year-Old Roman Dagger

Archaeology Intern Unearths Spectacular, 2,000-Year-Old Roman Dagger

Nico Calman actually had a particularly good internship. During his time in Germany last year, with the Westphalia Department of Protection & Field Monuments, 19-year-old Calman discovered a 2,000-year-old silver dagger that may have helped the Romans battle a Germanic tribe in the 1st century A.D.

The dagger as it was originally found.

However when he found it was nothing more than a lumpy, rusty clump that was noted to look like a “chicken tender”.

It took nine months of careful restoration work for the dagger’s true beauty to be revealed.

The restored dagger and sheath is a night and day difference between how it looked when it was first unearthed.

Likely used in battles against the Germanic tribes in the first century AD,  It was an extremely rare find for the team of archaeologists, and one made even more special for the well-preserved state in which the dagger was found.

“The discovery of the dagger was emotional. We were lost for words,” Bettina Tremmel, an archaeologist working for the Westphalie Department told Live Science.

“Imagine: Though thousands of Roman soldiers were stationed in Haltern over almost 15 years or more, there are only a few finds of weapons, especially complete and intact ones.”

The dagger was corroded to the point of being unrecognizable when Nico Calman, the 19-year-old man on work-study unearthed it and the remains of a decorated leather belt from the grave of a soldier.

But after a rigorous restoration effort that lasted nine months, conservators in Germany unveiled the ornate 13-inch-long weapon and its bejeweled sheath underneath the grime this week.

The dagger inside its sheath after 9 months of restoration work.

Silver and brass adorn the dagger’s handle, while its iron scabbard features inlaid wood, glass, and red enamel.

The weapon likely belonged to a legionary or auxiliary infantryman or a centurion officer in the Roman army, Tremmel says. But why the weapon was buried with its owner remains a mystery, she says, explaining that “it was not the normal practice for Roman soldiers to be buried with their military equipment.” 

Located at the edge of the Roman empire, Haltern am See was home to a large military camp during the Augustan period (27 BC to AD 14), where three legions of soldiers, each consisting of some 5,000 men, were slain by Germanic tribes. Roman fighters killed during the battles were buried at a cemetery nearby.

Despite archaeological digs taking place at the site for nearly 200 years, a weapon as sophisticated and well-preserved as the dagger has never before been found.

The newly restored dagger will go on view in Haltern’s Roman history museum beginning in 2022.

Archaeology breakthrough: ‘Incredible’ discovery of the oldest remains of English royals

Archaeology breakthrough: ‘Incredible’ discovery of the oldest remains of English royals

The remains of the English royalty of 1,000 years ago were discovered by the archeologists-the oldest find of the kind and a new light on the royal family history.

One of the most significant archeological findings in the last few years is that the queen Eadgyth who died aged 36 in 946AD, Researchers had believed the remains belonged to Eadgyth (Edith in modern English), the great-granddaughter of Alfred the Great, but could not prove it.

However, thanks to the use of hi-tech radioactive analysis of the remains, researchers were able to confirm that the bones belonged to someone who grew up in Wessex before moving to Germany.

The statue in Magdeburg Cathedral that is often assumed to represent Queen Eadgyth

Leading the project, Professor Harald Meller said: “Medieval bones were moved frequently and often mixed up, so it required some exceptional science to prove that they are indeed those of Eadgyth.

“It is incredible that we have been able to do this using the most recent analytical techniques.”

Her remains were initially thought to have been lost when they were moved in 1510.

Many thought a monument built in Magdeburg Cathedral in eastern Germany, was a cenotaph in her honour.

The cenotaph is located at the German cathedral

And when the tomb was investigated as part of a wider research project, a lead coffin was found inside bearing her name and inside that the nearly complete skeleton of a woman aged between 30 and 40.

The University of Bristol then carried out tests on the bones in 2008 to prove beyond doubt they are those of England’s oldest regal ancestor.

The crucial scientific evidence came from the teeth preserved in the upper jaw. Eadgyth was the granddaughter of Alfred the Great and the half-sister of Athelstan, the first acknowledged King of England.

She was sent to marry Otto, the king of Saxony in AD 929, and bore him at least two children, before her death at around the age of 36. She lived most of her married life at Magdeburg, where the cenotaph is located.

Dr. Alistair Pike, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at Bristol University, explained: “Strontium isotopes on tiny samples of tooth enamel have been measured.

“By microsampling, using a laser, we can reconstruct the sequence of a person’s whereabouts, month by month up to the age of 14.”

Mark Horton, Professor in Archaeology at Bristol University, added that it was “incredibly exciting” to confirm that the bones were the princess’s and to find out more about her life.

Mr. Horton continued: “This period was when England was really formed. “We don’t know much about these dark age queens and princesses.

“This has created a connection with one of them.

“Eadgyth seems to have spent the first eight years of her life in southern England, but changed her domicile frequently, matching quite variable strontium ratios in her teeth.

“Only from the age of nine, the isotope values remain constant.

“Eadgyth must have moved around the kingdom following her father, King Edward the Elder during his reign.

“When her mother was divorced in 919 – Eadgyth was between nine and ten at that point – both were banished to a monastery, maybe Winchester or Wilton in Salisbury.”

Third Neanderthal Genome Sequenced

Third Neanderthal Genome Sequenced

To date, only two Neanderthals have been sequenced to high-quality genomes: one originating from Vindjia Cave in Modern Croatia and one originating from Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains in Siberia.

The genome from a third Neanderthal whose remains were found-106 kilometers from the latter site-in Chagyrskaya Cave has now been sequenced in a research team led by Svante Pääbo from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

DNA was extracted from bone powder and sequenced to high quality by researchers. They estimate that the Neandertal woman lived about sixty to eight thousand years ago.

Researchers have sequenced the genome of a Neandertal from Chagyrskaya Cave in the Altai Mountains to high quality.

From the variation in the genome, they estimate that she and other Siberian Neandertals lived in small groups of less than 60 individuals.

The researchers also show that the Chagyrskaya Neandertal was more closely related to the Croatian than to the other Siberian Neandertal which lived some 40,000 years before the Chagyrskaya Neandertal.

This shows that Neandertal populations from the West at some point replaced other Neandertal populations in Siberia.

“We also found that genes expressed in the striatum of the brain during adolescence showed more changes that altered the resulting amino acid when compared to other areas of the brain”, says Fabrizio Mafessoni, lead author of the study.

The results suggest that the striatum – a part of the brain which coordinates various aspects of cognition, including planning, decision-making, motivation, and reward perception – may have played a unique role in Neandertals.