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These are the battlefield remains from the layer where objects were found at the site near the Tollense river in Weltzin. (Credit: Stefan Sauer)

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Recent archaeological investigations in the Tollense Valley led by the University of Göttingen, the State Agency for Cultural Heritage in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the University of Greifswald have unearthed a collection of 31 unusual objects. Researchers believe this is the personal equipment of a Bronze Age warrior who died on the battlefield 3,300 years ago. This unique find was discovered by a diving team headed by Dr. Joachim Krüger, from the University of Greifswald, and seems to have been protected in the river from the looting, which inevitably followed fighting. The study was published in Antiquity.

Collection of objects was found by divers in the Tollense river and is probably the contents of a personal pouch of a warrior who died 3,300 years ago on the battlefield. Credit: Volker Minkus

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The archaeological records of the European Bronze Age are dominated by settlement finds, hoards and evidence of funeral sites. However, the site at the river Tollense in Northern Germany is very different and provides for the first time in Europe the evidence of a prehistoric battlefield. Over 12,000 pieces of human bone have already been recovered from the valley and osteoanthropologist Ute Brinker, from the State Agency has identified more than 140 individuals—young adult males in good physical condition. Their bones showed signs of recent trauma—the result of close and long-range weapons—and healed lesions, which probably indicate they were accustomed to combat. Isotopic results suggested that at least some of the group were not from the local area, but until now, it was not clear how far they travelled.

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