Ancient Warrior’s untouched grave unearthed in Germany after 1,300 years
A pristine burial site dating back over 1,300 years was recently unearthed in Germany. This untouched grave provides invaluable insights into the life and times of a Frankish warrior from the seventh century.
Archaeologists from the Kaiserpfalz Research Center in Germany have been diligently excavating an early medieval cemetery in the town of Ingelheim since 2015. Among the numerous graves, some of which had been looted centuries ago, a unique and untouched burial was revealed.
The excavation leader, Christoph Bassler, described the discovery as a remarkable find. The grave, known as “grave 447,” contained the remains of a warrior who was a man of substance in his time. Among the striking artifacts found within the burial were his weapons and a shield, all exceptionally well-preserved.
The central feature of this warrior’s grave was a formidable double-edged sword known as a “spatha,” measuring approximately 3 feet (93 centimeters) in length, with a blade spanning 30 inches (75 centimeters). The spatha’s blade retains some of its flexibility, a testament to its exceptional state of preservation.
The warrior’s burial treasures did not stop there. In addition to the prized spatha, the grave contained a substantial broad seax, a type of heavy and short slashing sword, an iron knife, and the preserved tip of a lance.
Notably, parts of a shield, the bronze elements of the sword’s scabbard, as well as various metal pieces from the seax’s scabbard and a belt were also uncovered. The close-fitting and slightly raised shoulders of the skeleton, known as the “coffin posture,” provided evidence that the warrior was buried in a wooden coffin, although no remnants of the coffin itself have survived the centuries.
The distinctive style of the shield and weaponry in the grave strongly suggests that the warrior was of Frankish descent, one of the prominent Germanic tribes of the time. The Franks played a pivotal role in the transformation of European geography and politics following the fall of the Roman Empire.
During the period spanning the 5th to the 8th centuries, the Franks, led by King Clovis I, unified various Frankish tribes and expanded their territories, marking the end of Roman rule in the region. The warrior’s grave, from the 7th century, harkens back to this significant historical era.
Unlike modern standing armies, the warrior class of this period did not consist of professional soldiers. Instead, free men were expected to equip themselves and respond to the call of their leaders when the need for battle arose.
While the exact cause of the warrior’s death remains unknown, the nature of his burial goods, heavily focused on violence, suggests the possibility of a battle-related demise. His age at the time of death is estimated to be between 30 and 40 years.
The remarkable findings from the grave, including weapons and shield, have been entrusted to a restorer for cleaning and further study. Analyses are expected to reveal more about the intricacies of the weaponry, as well as details concealed beneath layers of rust, including potential silver inlays.
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1. Among the striking artifacts found within the burial were his weapons and a shield, all exceptionally well-preserved. Credit: Kaiserpfalz Research Center, Ingelheim
2. He was a man aged between 30 and 40 when he died. Credit: Kaiserpfalz Research Center, Ingelheim
3. Credit: Kaiserpfalz Research Center, Ingelheim
4. The archaeologists have also found coins during their excavations of graves. Credit: Kaiserpfalz Research Center, Ingelheim
5. Colorful glass beads found in the graves. Credit: Kaiserpfalz Research Center, Ingelheim
6. The iron buckle of the sword belt. Credit: Kaiserpfalz Research Center, Ingelheim
The grave’s location, between two looted burial sites, suggests that fate, in this case, intervened to preserve the legacy of a warrior whose story continues to captivate us, even after 1,300 years.