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Number of horse bones unearthed in Iron Age village surprises

The remains of the Iron Age village are excavated. Photo:  Photo: Nordjyllands Historical Museum

The remains of the Iron Age village are excavated. © Nordjyllands Historical Museum

Archaeologists have expressed surprise at the number of horse bones found during excavations of a 2000-year-old well-preserved Iron Age village in northern Denmark.

Experts from Nordjyllands Historical Museum said horses were status symbols at the the time of the village’s occupation, which raised interesting questions around the status of the residents.

The remains of the village were found during archaeological excavations prior to the construction of a hospital on the Aalborg site.

The village was extremely well preserved, experts said, with easily identified house sites with fireplaces, chalk floors and pillars.

The houses were well preserved because the village ended up covered with a 40cm layer of debris, which had protected the houses after the village was deserted.

The village covered about 4 hectares, with the remains of about 40 houses identified.

Evidence suggests the houses did not all exist at the same time, indicating renewal and replacement over several hundred years.

Preliminary studies have also found bones from cattle, pigs, sheep and goats, as well as fish.

The discovery of bones from a cat also surprised archaeologists. Cats were introduced from the Roman Empire. It represents one of  earliest examples found in Denmark.

Pottery was recovered from the site, along with animal remains. Photo: Nordjyllands Historical Museum

Pottery was recovered from the site, along with animal remains. © Nordjyllands Historical Museum

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