Category Archives: GERMANY

Remains of Southland WWII gunner found after 79 years in plane wreckage in Germany

New Zealand Airmen’s Remains Identified in Germany

Stuff.co.nz reports that the remains of Sergeant Henry Pullar of the Royal New Zealand Airforce have been unearthed and identified in Germany. Pullar was a rear gunner on a British Short Stirling heavy bomber that was shot down in northwestern Germany in 1942. 

New Zealand Airmen’s Remains Identified in Germany
Sergeant air gunner Henry Pullar worked on his family’s farm at Otautau before enlisting in the Royal New Zealand Airforce in 1941.

The remains of Otautau man sergeant Henry Pullar were discovered buried among parts of a British World War II bomber plane that went down in 1942, according to DNA testing.

His niece Pam Compton said she and her family received written confirmation of the test results from Hamburg-Eppendorf University Hospital biologist Oliver Krebs in late December 2020.

“We were thrilled and stunned when we were told,” Compton, of Toowoomba in Queensland, said. September 1 marks the 80th anniversary of the start of the Second World War when Nazi Germany invaded Poland.

Discovery of the human remains and parts of the plane’s tail section buried more than five metres deep, were made in 2019, while redevelopment work was being done at Vechta Airport in Germany. Research by Compton showed the plane crashed tail-first into the ground.

Pullar was a rear gunner in the plane.

News of human remains being found reached Compton in September 2019, after a German aviation archaeology working group member, Jens-Michael Brandes, posted a message on an ancestry site looking for relatives of Errol Skeggs – Compton’s father.

The group was called to the redevelopment site when aircraft parts started appearing during earthmoving work.

On the third day of examining the area clothing and human remains were found. A senior archaeologist at the Lower Saxony state office for the preservation of cultural heritage became involved in the findings, along with anthropologists of the forensic department of the University Medical Centre in Hamburg-Eppendorf.

Archaeologists, anthropologists and scientists at the site where the human remains of Southland airman Henry Pullar were discovered at Vechta in Germany in 2019. The British bomber plane Pullar was in was shot down during World War II.

“As more remains were found the forensic scientists from UKE Hamburg came to the site and removed them,” Compton said.

The bones were transferred to Hamburg-Eppendorf University Hospital, where biologist Oliver Krebs subsequently removed DNA from them.

“My family and I and the family and friends of the crew requested that the UK Ministry of Defence Joint Casualty & Compassionate Centre do DNA testing,” Compton said.

She had contacted and built up a network with the relatives of the other airmen after starting research on the life and war service of her uncle in 2016.

DNA samples from Compton and four others in her family were sent to Krebs who later confirmed the bones belonged to her uncle. Krebs sent an official confirmation to Compton by email on December 23, 2020.

An aviation archaeology working group member, Matthias Zeisler, at the site in Vechta, Germany, in 2019, where parts of a British World War II plane and remains of Southland airman sergeant Henry Pullar was discovered. DNA testing confirmed the remains belonged to Pullar.

The bones are still at the university’s forensic science department and will be kept there until the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is allowed, under Covid-19 regulations, to take them to Rheinberg War Cemetery in Germany. The bones will be placed in the communal grave which has the remains of five of the six other airmen on the plane.

The pilot has his own grave there.

“It’s a privilege to have found him [Pullar] after all this time, and to have closure when so many didn’t,” Compton said. Pullar, at 25, was the oldest of the seven crewmen on the British Short Stirling heavy bomber.

Identifying the plane and its crew was done from the personal details found on the pilot’s body which was thrown from the plane just before the crash, Compton said. The crew was initially buried in a Protestant cemetery in Vechta before being moved to the Rheinberg War Cemetery.

Queensland woman Pam Compton, formerly of Otautau, has a closure in knowing DNA testing on human remains discovered through earthmoving work in Germany belongs to her uncle, sergeant Henry Pullar. The British bomber plane he was in was shot down at Vechta Airport in Germany during World War II.

They each have a headstone at Rheinberg.

Pullar worked on his family’s farm before enlisting in the Royal New Zealand Airforce in March 1941, at the age of 23. He started his training at Levin and then went to Canada to join the Empire Air Training Scheme.

He was a member of the 75 NZ Squadron RAF and after more training in the UK, was posted to Newmarket in Suffolk.

Ancient Roman Library Discovered Beneath German City

Ancient Roman Library Discovered Beneath German City

The first thing the archaeologists realised when they discovered the foundations of a Roman-era building situated in the heart of Cologne, Germany, they initially thought they had found the ruins of a public assembly hall.

Ancient Roman Library Discovered Beneath German City
Archaeologists identified the library based on a series of wall niches that once housed ancient scrolls

The discovery of tiny wall niches, however—at roughly 31 by 20 inches, the spaces were too small to hold statues—soon led them to conclude otherwise: Here, in the former Roman city of Colonia, stood the country’s oldest known library.

According to the Guardian’s Alison Flood, the wall niches mirror those seen in the Library of Celsus, a 2nd-century Roman building located in modern-day Ephesus, Turkey. (Although that structure’s interior was destroyed by an earthquake in the 3rd century, with the facade following in the 10th or 11th century, Celsus was re-erected by archaeologists during the 1970s.)

Based on this connection, researchers were able to identify the niches as all that remained of cupboards built to house an ancient library’s roughly 20,000 scrolls.

The Cologne structure was built in the southwest corner of the city’s forum, or marketplace, sometime between 150 and 200 C.E., according to Martin Oehlen of German news outlet Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger. 

The Romans had founded Cologne, then known as Colonia, on the banks of the Rhine River about a century earlier in 50 C.E.

The city, which served as the capital of the Germania Inferior province and housed some of Rome’s influential imperial governors, soon emerged as a vibrant trade and manufacturing centre.

Given the library’s central location, Schmitz believes it was open to the entire city rather than a single private citizen or municipal leader. He suggests that locals were free to peruse the building’s expansive collection, perhaps using ladders to reach higher shelves or checking parchment labels to find relevant writings.

Dagmar Breitenbach of German broadcast station Deutsche Welle writes that Marcus Trier, director of the Cologne Bodensekmalpflege (Cologne’s office of historic preservation), estimates the library measured around 66 by 30 feet and stood at two stories tall.

Quite huge’ … detail of the library’s walls.

An annex housing a statue of Minerva, Roman goddess of wisdom and warfare, was likely added after initial construction, The Art Newspaper’s Catherine Hickley reports.

“[The structure] is at a minimum the earliest library in Germany, and perhaps in the north-west Roman provinces,” Dirk Schmitz, an archaeologist at the Roman-Germanic Museum of Cologne, tells Flood. But he speculates that there could be more Roman libraries discovered in the future.

“Perhaps there are a lot of Roman towns that have libraries, but they haven’t been excavated,” he adds. “If we had just found the foundations, we wouldn’t have known it was a library. It was because it had walls, with the niches, that we could tell.”

Archaeologists discovered the site while conducting construction work on a Protestant church in Cologne’s city centre, Oehlen notes.

The library will be integrated into the new building’s underground garage, with two would-be parking spaces instead displaying the ancient structure’s walls and three parchment niches.

The western German city on the Rhine River is over 2,000 years old – so stumbling upon ancient ruins is not unusual.

Dated to c. 1600 BC, the Nebra sky disk is one of the most important archaeological finds in the 20th century

Dated to c. 1600 BC, the Nebra sky disk is one of the most important archaeological finds in the 20th century

In the eastern German town of Halle, the 3,600-year-old Sky Disk of Nebra, the world’s oldest image of the cosmos, is the centerpiece of Europe’s greatest Bronze Age exhibition. When it was brought to the German public’s notice in 2002, having been found in the state of Saxony-Anhalt two years earlier, it caused a worldwide sensation.

Now the Sky Disc of Nebra — a bronze disc with gold-leaf appliques representing the sun, moon, stars, and a ship — is back in the limelight, at the opening of a blockbuster show entitled “The Forged Sky: The Wide World in the Heart of Europe 3,600 Years Ago.”

For the first time the disc, which is around 32 centimeters (12 inches) in diameter and weighs about 2 kilos (1 pound), will be on public view in its fully restored state.

Dated to c. 1600 BC, the Nebra sky disk is one of the most important archaeological finds in the 20th century
Archeologists have dated the disc to 1600 B.C.

1,600 artifacts

In addition to the oldest concrete representation of the cosmos known to date, the Forged Sky exhibit, at the State Museum of Prehistory in the town of Halle, will feature the Sun Chariot of Trundholm (Denmark) and 1,600 more of the most important archeological finds representing Europe in the Bronze Age.

When it was discovered, the Sky Disc was considered a key find not only for archaeology but also for astronomy and the history of religion. Deposited some 3,600 years ago, it was found on the summit of the Mittelberg hill, near the wooded area of Nebra in eastern Germany, together with valuable swords, jewelry, and tools.

The find initiated a new presentation of the Bronze Age world in Central Germany. The natural riches of this region — copper, salt, and fertile soils — formed the power basis for the resident Early Bronze Age princes, who exchanged goods from all regions of Europe. Mighty tombs, extensive bronze treasures, gold jewelry, and unique display weapons survive as their status symbols, and a representative sample of them is pulled together for the current blockbuster show.

Crowds expected

“Peoples’ interest in the disc since it was unearthed two years ago has not let up,” Saxony-Anhalt state archeologist Harald Meller told the DPA news agency. He explained: “We put the show together in record time, 18 months.”

Meller said he expects 100,000 people to visit the exhibit. If there is enough interest, he said, the show will be extended. The objects on view have been donated by 68 museums in 18 countries.

“Most of the objects, like burial offerings, cult objects, gold jewelry, and various decorated armaments, have never before been out on loan, and they will only be gathered together like this for the show in Halle,” Meller told DPA. Aside from European countries, Lebanon also loaned some pieces to the show.

Sun chariots and golden boats

For example, the organizers got special permission to borrow the 3,400-year-old Sun Chariot of Trundholm from its home at the National Museum in Copenhagen, for the duration of the Halle show.

Sun Chariot of Trundholm, Denmark

The National Museum had previously decided that, for security reasons, the 50 centimeters long, 30 centimeters high Sun Chariot should never again leave Denmark. Similarly, the 88 super thin golden ships from Nors, Denmark, are so brittle that they hardly ever leave the National Museum, according to museum director Flemming Kaul.

But having a group of artifacts from around Europe is important, because “We show that … there is a long process of developing knowledge about religion and astronomy in Europe, which is part of the history of mankind,” Meller said.

The disc itself was a cult object and describes the world view during the Bronze Age. People imagined the earth as a disc, with a dome-shaped sky covering it. A cluster of seven dots has been interpreted as the Pleiades constellation as it appeared 3,600 years ago.

A Nebra baker made this reproduction of the sun disc out of butter cream and marzipan.

At the same time, the piece is thought to be related to primitive observatories, one of which is the “German Stonehenge” in the nearby town of Goseck.

Archeologists believe the disc may have been used in the pre-calendar Bronze Age as an instrument for determining seasonal changes.

The popularity of the disc has led to a boom in reproductions. Demand for €800 ($990) copies of the disc is booming: “There are already 50 on order, and the fabricator can barely keep up with production,” Meller said.

On the other hand, the disc’s popularity can’t stanch the flood of lawsuits that followed its discovery. Although the copyright case was decided in favor of the state of Saxony-Anhalt, there is still a suit before the Halle appeals courts against two suspected fencers from North-Rhine Westphalia who claim the Sky Disc is a fake that was found outside of Germany.

The disc was found on July 4, 1999, by two convicted grave robbers. In February 2002 it was bought along with other Bronze objects from art fencers in a police operation in Switzerland.

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.