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News: Germany
See all photos
The Middle Neolithic skeleton named Fred. Photo Credit: Daniel Karmann/dpa/TANN.
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by Archaeology Newsroom

Well preserved Stone Age skeleton unearthed in Bavaria

It was found in a cornfield

Archaeologists in Germany have unearthed a surprisingly well preserved Neolithic skeleton along with other graves and items. The discovery was made in a Bavarian cornfield, in Lower Franconia, and the skeleton was preserved due to the composition of the soil.

The skeleton, which was named Fred by researchers, belonged to a young man who lived in the late Stone Age, about 6,500 years ago. The soil where it was found contains high concentration of calcium oxide, which contributed to the good condition the skeleton was found in. Near the skeleton a stone axe and seeds of grain were found. The individual probably died when he was 20-30 years old.

The skeleton was found in a cornfield where excavations were carried out due to the construction of new facilities by a local winery. Works started in November prior to construction. Fred was found near the ground surface, so researchers had to unearth only about 30-40 cm of topsoil.

The pose in which Fred had been placed, with his legs bent, was a variation common in the area during the Neolithic Period. Researchers, though, are not in accordance as to what it might mean, with varying interpretations; some say it is representative of human position at birth while others it is a sleep pose.

Near the spot where Fred was found archaeologists unearthed ceramic plates, remains of food and seashells. Also, other graves were found nearby, one of which belonging to a 12-year-old boy buried in the very early Bronze Age.

The skeleton will be taken to Munich for further study, but according to Bavarian laws it belongs to the landowner rather than the state. Therefore, the winery owners will have to decide as to what will happen to the findings. The cost of keeping and properly conserving the items will be quite high, so it is probably they will consider the option of donating the findings to a museum.

NOTES