Mass grave with over 1,000 skeletons found in Germany (PHOTOs)

Sunday, March 10, 2024
 – A mass grave containing at least 1,000 sets of remains, likely victims of a 1600s outbreak of the Black Death, has been unearthed in Nuremberg, Germany.

The largest such discovery in the country, and possibly in all of Europe, was made during a routine archaeological screening in preparation for building a retirement home, developer WBG said in a statement.

The bodies were packed in tightly, with adults sitting up or lying on their backs or sides, according to reports. Babies and newborns were squeezed in between the adults.

This appears to be one of several cemeteries described in historical documents, Nuremberg Lord Mayor Marcus König said in a statement from site developer WBG.

“This discovery is of great significance far beyond the region,” König said. “The graves contain the mortal remains of children and old people, men and women; the plague did not stop at gender, age or social status. Now, for the first time, an empirically reliable analysis of a large population group from this period can be carried out for a city with the importance of Nuremberg.”

As many as 1,500 people could be buried there, which indicates they died in one of the plague outbreaks that occurred about every 10 years beginning in the 14th century, city archaeologist Melanie Langbein said

“Those people were not interred in a regular cemetery, although we have designated plague cemeteries in Nuremberg,” Langbein said to CNN.

“This means a large number of dead people who needed to be buried in a short time frame without regard to Christian burial practices.”

Eight burial pits were discovered, each containing hundreds of bodies, with at least one of the pits dating back to the late 1400s or early 1600s, radiocarbon analysis revealed.

There was documentation too, in the form of a 1634 note chronicling an outbreak of the Black Death in which more than 15,000 people perished from 1632-33. The note also indicated that nearly 2,000 people had been interred near the newly discovered site, Langbein added.

The bones are very important due to amount information that can be derived from them, experts said.

“We can now detail out all information that is kept in those bones, e.g. the prevalence of different kinds of cancer, genetic mutations that show in skulls, age and sex determination, status of the teeth and conclusions from that to the general health and life circumstances in this period,” Nuremberg chief anthropologist Florian Melzer said in a statement from In Terra Veritas, the archeological firm in charge of the excavation.

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