Evidence of mass cannibalism at Neolithic site in Germany

Published on December 10th, 2009 | by Admin


New analysis of human bones found at a Neolithic site in Germany have led researchers to conclude that people had been butchered and eaten there.

At a settlement in what is now southern Germany, the menu turned gruesome 7,000 years ago. Over a period of perhaps a few decades, hundreds of people were butchered and eaten before parts of their bodies were thrown into oval pits, a new study suggests.

Cannibalism at the village, now called Herxheim, may have occurred during ceremonies in which people from near and far brought slaves, war prisoners or other dependents for ritual sacrifice, propose anthropologist Bruno Boulestin of the University of Bordeaux 1 in France and his colleagues. A social and political crisis in central Europe at that time triggered various forms of violence, the researchers suspect.

“Human sacrifice at Herxheim is a hypothesis that’s difficult to prove right now, but we have evidence that several hundred people were eaten over a brief period,” Boulestin says. Skeletal markings indicate that human bodies were butchered in the same way as animals.

Herxheim offers rare evidence of cannibalism during Europe’s early Neolithic period, when farming first spread, the researchers report in the December Antiquity. Artifacts found at Herxheim come from the Linear Pottery Culture, which flourished in western and central Europe from about 7,500 to 7,000 years ago.

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One Response to Evidence of mass cannibalism at Neolithic site in Germany

  1. …and human sacrifice is so much more melodramatic than plain old starvation!

    They may have evidence of cannibalism, but I’ll bet they don’t have any evidence at all that it was a religious rite…like communion.

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