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About 7,000 years ago, the bodies of nine brutally murdered people were dumped into a mass grave on the edge of an ancient farming settlement. While their identities will never be known, one thing is certain: These nine individuals were interlopers — possibly failed raiders or POWs — who met violent ends, a new study finds.
These people aren't the only early Neolithic victims whose lives ended in violence. But several factors set this newfound burial — found during a construction project in Halberstadt, Germany, in 2013 — apart from other mass graves dating to the same period, the researchers said.
Outsider - Discovery - Thanks - Anaylsis - Isotopes
The "outsider" discovery was made thanks to an anaylsis of certain isotopes (a variation of an element that has a different number of neutrons in its nucleus) in people's bones and teeth that are determined by their diets. The analysis revealed that the victims in the mass grave had different isotopes in their remains compared with other people buried in the settlement, the researchers said.
The bodies in the mass grave were not arranged, but rather jumbled together. Notice the broken limb bones, including the right humerus (yellow) and right femur (red).
Addition - Newfound - Grave - Men - Woman
In addition, the newfound grave contained only adults — eight men and one woman — but no children, which is unusual for Neolithic mass graves, Meyer said. For instance, another early Neolithic mass grave in Germany, known as Schöneck-Kilianstädten, had 26 victims, which included 13 children and 11 men and two women, Live Science previously reported.
Moreover, these young adults' injuries clustered at the back of the head, meaning the victims were likely hit with "blunt force" from behind, Meyer said.
Sites - Massacres - Injuries - Areas - Skulls
"At other sites, where [other] chaotic massacres occurred, injuries are usually spread out over all areas of the skulls," Meyer told Live Science in an email. "Some of the injuries [at Halberstadt]...
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