10500-Year-Old Cremation Tomb Discovered in Northern Germany

In Schleswig-Holstein, the remains of a cremation tomb of around 10500 years old were found. This makes it the oldest tomb ever discovered in northern Germany.

The discovery was made about two weeks ago in the Duvensee bog. According to the statement made by archaeologists, the tomb in question is the first Mesolithic Age tomb unearthed in Schleswig-Holstein. In previous years, an Early Mesolithic tomb was also discovered in Hammelev (Denmark), about 220 kilometers north of Duvensee.

Excavation director Harald Lübke said the tombs at Duvensee and Hammelev date from the same period.

The fact that both tombs are cremation tombs holds important clues regarding the death practices of people after the Last Ice Age in Northern Europe. According to the researchers, cremation was common practice among fisher and hunter-gatherer groups in northern Europe during the Early Mesolithic.

Cause of Death Unknown

It is stated that it is too early for detailed explanations about the biological characteristics of the dead. The cause of death is currently unknown.

Harald Lübke stated that when it comes to cremation, it is difficult to determine the cause of death. But he said he hopes to get DNA samples from some of the bones that remain intact.

Analysis will continue under controlled conditions, with the burial site being moved to the archaeological museum in Schleswig.

Northern Germany in the Early Mesolithic

In and around northern Germany, pine and birch trees were common in the early Mesolithic era. These cold-resistant plants spread to the northeast with the warming of the climate.

The warming of the climate also affected the fauna and sociological structure of the region. The northward migration of reindeer caused groups that hunted them to spread northward as well.

The reindeer hunters were soon replaced by forest hunter-gatherers from the south. The warming climate allowed hazelnut trees and fertile reeds to become widespread in the region. The group from the south made a living by hunting forest animals, fishing in lakes and harvesting hazelnuts.