5th Century Massacre Tracks Found in Sweden


There were dozens of human and animal remains killed in the late 5th century AD in the Sandby borg settlement on the Swedish coast of Oland.

Archaeologists have come to the conclusion that the period of Migration in Scandinavia was political, economically and socially irregular and led to violence.

The Sandby borg settlement on the coast of Oland is a settlement surrounded by an oval-shaped wall with more than 50 houses. Such round settlements and houses, along with the cemeteries, were quite common in the region during the Period of Migration (400-550 AD).

Since the excavation work began in 2011, two houses were completely excavated, a third house half was uncovered and limited excavations were carried out in the other six houses. Nonetheless, despite the appearance of a small part of the settlement, a large number of human remains and artifacts indicate that the settlement has severely ended.

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In a study published in the Antiquity magazine, archaeologist Clara Alfsdotter and his colleagues say that the context of the skeletal remains is extraordinary. It was discovered that animal and human skeletons were torn in the houses and on the floors of the streets. There were 9 people in a house: three male adults, possibly two male adults, a small child and a baby.

Many of their skulls show traces of trauma to a back or side of the head with an inconspicuous weapon, and it appears that the young person has died on the legs of an already dead adult

Two of the human skeletons in the house were partially charred and disintegrated. According to the researchers, this indicates that the predators attempted to fire some houses or that a fire broke out by accident

Sandby Borg settlement. C: Sebastian Jakobsson

The trauma found on several skulls, on the shoulders of a man and in the wrists of a man, was due to the collapses taken towards or behind the body.

"The traumas leading to death associated with typical warfare injuries, such as defense injuries and head injuries, have not been detected until now. This gives rise to the fact that the incident involved a large number of people, that at the same time many houses were being fought and that some of the victims were not in a position to defend themselves. "

Interestingly, no women were found among the victims who were able to detect gender up until now, and they were all masters. For this reason, it is thought that lethal violence is exclusively applied to men (or to some children) and that women are either treated mercifully or taken hostage.

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If people are not buried in mass graves, it shows who is not returning to this settlement after the massacre.

Another oddity about the Sandby borg settlement is the lack of military equipment and weapons. Alfsdotter and his colleagues say that whatever the raiders, they may have taken the weapons for themselves, or they may have buried them in a lake or swamp ritually. Many such findings have been revealed by archaeologists in the past.

The archaeological evidence of why the Sandby borg settlement was targeted for this massacre can not be understood. This was a period when the collapse of the Roman Empire had an impact even in the north as well as Scandinavia, and the result was the abandonment and destruction of the farms during the Period of Migration.

Sandby Borg is not known whether the turbulent political times, such as summoning the social hierarchy of different groups, are wrecked or simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. The future archaeological work in the region is expected to reveal how life is in ancient Scandinavia.

Forbes. April 25, 2018.

Article : Alfsdotter, C., Papmehl-Dufay, L., & Victor, H. (2018). A moment frozen in time: evidence of a late fifth-century massacre at Sandby borg. antiquity, 92 (362), 421-436.


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