Evidence found of massacre in Iron Age village
A team of researchers from the University of Oxford, Arkikus, Vitoria-Gasteiz and Instituto Alavés de Arqueología, has found evidence of an ancient massacre in an Iron Age village. In their paper published in the journal Antiquity, the group describes their study of the skeletal remains at a dig site in Spain.
There are many examples of brutality doled out by soldiers of the Roman Empire in early Europe, but little evidence exists of similar acts of brutality before their arrival. In this new effort, the researchers have found evidence of a massacre that suggests people living on the Iberian Peninsula during the Iron Age were every bit as brutal as the Romans.
The work by the team involved studying skeletal remains found at a dig site of a settlement once known as La Hoya, in what is now Spain. The dig site was discovered in 1935, but only recently have the remains unearthed there been studied.
In all, the researchers examined the skeletal remains of 13 people—nine adults, two adolescent girls, a child and an infant girl, all of whom had died sometime between 365 and 195 BC. What was most striking was the means by which the people met their death. One of the adults had been decapitated—and one of the adolescent girls had been killed after an arm was cut off. The severed limb was found several meters away with copper bracelets encircling the arm bones. The researchers also found no evidence indicating that the victims had been buried—instead, they had been left where they fell. Some of the remains also had evidence of burns of the kind often suffered by house fire victims.
The researchers suggest the nature of the injuries to the people in the village are evidence of a massacre—an enemy had arrived and killed everyone in the village. Prior research has shown that the village never recovered. Such an action, the researchers note, suggests that the Iron Age on the Iberian Peninsula was a violent period. They further suggest that the Iron Age in Europe might have been more brutal than researchers have thought.
More information: Teresa Fernández-Crespo et al. Make a desert and call it peace: massacre at the Iberian Iron Age village of La Hoya, Antiquity (2020). DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2020.161
Journal information: Antiquity
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