Celts: This poor guy ended up in a landfill 2,500 years ago

Celts: This poor guy ended up in a landfill 2,500 years ago

history Poor Celtic boy

He was simply thrown into a pit and disposed of as a sick worker

He was no more than twelve years old when his life was about 500 BC. The end was cruelly set. In 2019, archaeologists discovered its skeleton near Nördlingen. Now there is the first understanding of the boy’s hard life.

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The skeleton shortly after its opening in 2019

The skeleton shortly after its opening in 2019

Source: dpa

D.the consequences of violence are obvious. Someone must have hit the boy’s skull with great force. In any case, the bone is torn several times, and the approximately kidney-shaped piece of the skull roof is even slightly pressed into the inside of the skull as if pierced.

The victim, a boy who was probably only nine or twelve years old, apparently died from this stupid violence – between 2,100 and 2,500 years ago. According to previous dates, its skeleton is between 480 and 100 BC. Was disposed of in the municipal waste of a Celtic village in the middle of the Nördlinger rivers.

Nördlingen, child skeletal damage, photo by Dr.  Andrea Grigat _ 

Undoubtedly a fatal injury to the boy’s skull

Source: Andrea Grigat

During construction work on the new trench line for the village Battery company Varta archaeologists have stumbled upon a typical Celtic underground body of water. Such structures, dug into the ground, are warehouses in which the inhabitants originally stored grain; later they used an artificial cave as a landfill. Burnt grains of hulled barley, pies, tench and wheat, as well as bones of slaughtered pigs and cattle, as well as harvested river mussels show that the people here ate for themselves.

At the top of the trash, the scientists found a skeleton lying face down on the trash. During life the child had to have a height of 125 to 130 centimeters. The first anthropological studies allow us to draw conclusions about the boy’s life.

Nördlingen, work on the storage pit, photo by Dr.  Manfred Wojdicz_

Excavations at the site

Source: Manfred Wojdicz

Tartar and tooth wear, photo by Dr.  Andrea Grigat _

Tartar and tooth wear in young Celts

Source: Andrea Grigat

Probably he was engaged in intense physical labor; this is shown by the pronounced muscular attachments on the right arm. Porous areas in the eyelids also indicate prolonged malnutrition. There were traces of inflammation on the right tibia. The fatal skull injury, on the other hand, was clearly not the result of an accident but deliberate violence.

You can learn a lot from this find. Originally the Celts came from the main area north of the Alps and from the Rhine along the Danube to the area around Vienna. The Nordlinger features, an almost circular remnant of a meteorite impact about 14.5 million years ago, belonged to the original habitat of the Celtic tribes.

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The Celts succeeded in 387 BC.  take Rome: a reconstruction scene from the ZDF documentary.

About 500 BC The expansion of the Celts, which the Romans later mostly called “Gauls,” began in all directions except the north. The modern states of Spain and Portugal, Great Britain, France and the Benelux were dominated by the Celts, as well as northern Italy, parts of the Adriatic coast and the strip along the Danube to the Black Sea.

The Celts lived in tribal communities in which the Greek historian believed Diodorus mainly consisted of 50,000 to 200,000 people. They were similar in culture, but they competed with each other. The agenda was the Celtic wars against the Celts.

Source: Die Welt infographics

The economic life of the Celtic tribes was “very developed,” writes the ancient Berlin historian Alexander Demandt in his standard work.Ancient forms of government“At least more differentiated than their German or Italian neighbors on the Apennine Peninsula. The Celts raised cattle, especially cattle and pigs, and farmed. At first, the fields were used for several years to grow grain, then as pastures for animals.Thus the soil could recover again.

Of great importance was the metalworking industry. The Celts were talented bronze and then iron smithies, whose products were in great demand throughout Europe. Salt mining was also a Celtic specialty.

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The Celtic skull, pierced with an iron nail, is on preview of the exhibition on July 22, 2015 "The skull is an icon.  Myth.  Cult." can be seen at the Völklinger Hütte in Völklingen (Saarland).  The exhibition, which runs from July 25, 2015 to April 3, 2016, will feature about 250 human skulls and heads of all cultures from the Stone Age to the present day.  Photo: Oliver Ditze / dpa |

However, for the analysis of the skeleton of children found near Nördlingen, other conclusions about the Celts are more important. It is known that the Celtic druids offered human sacrifices to the gods; part of the Celtic religion was the belief that life is given only for life. However, the boy is definitely not a donated child, as in this case the skeleton probably would not have been thrown in the trash.

So it had to be captivity. In his Gallic War, Julius Caesar reported that the Celts, who could no longer pay their debts, sought the protection of people of higher social status: “Slaves in Rome are kept as slaves,” the general wrote.

bones, right in osteomyelitis, photo by Dr.  Andrea Grigat _

Shins, right, with traces of severe inflammation

Source: Andrea Grigat

Proven malnutrition, hard physical work from a young age and the circumstances of “disposal” of a dead body suggest that the boy may have been a slave. Further analysis, so Bavarian Bureau for the Protection of Monuments, should help learn more about his life.

The study of isotopes in his bones can provide information about the proportion of meat and dairy products in his diet, that is, about his social status. Meetings using the C-14 method will give a clearer idea of ​​the useful life of the settlement, which owned the underground landfill.

You can also find “World History” on Facebook. We look forward to this.

Antonia Kleikamp

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