Saturday, 29 September 2018

Mystery children buried with elite Germanic warriors

In 1962, the bodies of 13 people—10 adults and three infants—were discovered in a 7th century burial site in Niederstotzingen, Germany. The individuals were high status, and some of the adults were warriors because their graves were stuffed with weapons, armor, jewelry and equestrian gear. But details remained a mystery. A team of researchers analyzed DNA from the bones and studied isotopes from their teeth.

The Niederstotzingen bodies belonged to the Alemanni, a confederacy of ancient Germanic tribes that were sprinkled across modern-day Germany, France, Switzerland and Austria. The Alemanni clashed periodically with the Roman Empire, but were ultimately brought down by the Franks, another Germanic group, in 497 A.D.

Six of the individuals appeared to be from northern and eastern European populations, and five of these were directly related to one another. Seven bodies were unrelated. Two seemed to come from southern Europe.

Folklore from the time has tales of tribes exchanging hostage children that are raised as their own. In addition to containing people of diverse origins, the Niederstotzingen burial site was filled with diverse grave goods: some were Frankish, some were Byzantine, and some were Lombard.