4,000-year-old skeleton’s ‘crouching position’ stunned experts
The female skeleton, thought to be 4,000 to 4,500 years old, was excavated in Brandenburg, Germany in Uckermark. It has left researchers puzzled over the woman’s life and where she might hial from.
Lying on her right side, the woman had her legs and arms drawn to her waist, and her face to the north, according to the DeutscheWelle (DW). A standard burial shape in Neolithic Europe is one of the oldest forms of positioning.
This period lasted from roughly 6,000 to 2,000 BCE and saw people passing from food and hunting to agriculture.
Their current “working hypothesis” is that the remains date from the Brandenburg State Office for the Preservation of Monuments to about 2,500 BCE, Christof Krauskopf told the Evangelical Press Service. However, the exact date is unclear.
Further research is needed in order to determine both the age of the skeleton and how old the woman was when she died.
The discovery could help “answer questions about the spread of cultures in the development of mankind,” Mr Krauskopf told broadcaster Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB) 24.
Adding to the mystery of the burial is the absence of any grave goods. Items in graves often provide some immediate clues to the deceased’s status.
Philipp Roskoschinski, one of the archaeologists involved in the dig, told Tagesspeigel: “Unfortunately there were no other finds in the grave that could tell us more about the life of the woman.
“But the place was lovingly bordered with field stones.”
Mr Roskoschinski and other archaeologists involved in the dig said the body was buried in a pit near a settlement rather than in a cemetery.
The next steps in identifying the woman will involve laboratory tests to clarify and, potentially, correct the age of the skeleton.
An anthropologist will also be invited to analyse the border to check the bones for signs of diseases and any clues relating to the woman’s eating habitats.
The goal of such analysis will also include identifying a cause of death.
Genetic testing could also be used to determine her connection to modern-day Uckermark, a district an hour’s drive north of Berlin.
The results may help researchers work out if she had ancestors in the area, or if she had travelled from outside.
Roskoschinski and Christoph Rzegotta, a fellow archaeologist at Archaeros, an archaeology consulting company, came across the skeleton during excavations for a wind turbine. “I’ve never found anything like this,” Roskoschinski told Tagesspeigel.