Photo released Monday Aug. 17, 2015 by researcher Christian Meyer shows the fractured skull of an about eight-years-old child with a digital mark to show the size. (Christian Meyer via AP)
BERLIN — Scientists say they have found rare evidence of a prehistoric massacre in Europe after discovering a 7,000-year-old mass grave with skeletal remains from some of the continent’s first farmers bearing terrible wounds.
Archaeologists who painstakingly examined the bones of some 26 men, women and children buried in the Stone Age grave site at Schoeneck-Kilianstaedten, near Frankfurt, say they found blunt force marks to the head, arrow wounds and deliberate efforts to smash at least half of the victims’ shins — either to stop them from running away or as a grim message to survivors.
“It was either torture or mutilation. We can’t say for sure whether the victims were still alive,” said Christian Meyer, one of the authors of the study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Meyer said the findings from Schoeneck-Kilianstaedten bolster theories put forward after the earlier discovery of two other grave sites in Germany and Austria. At all three sites, the victims and the perpetrators appeared to have been from the Linearbandkeramik — or LBK — culture, a farming people who arrived in central Europe about 5,500 B.C. Their name derives from the German phrase for “linear band ceramics,” a reference to the style of their pottery.
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