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Puzzling artifacts found at Europe’s oldest battlefield

by Michael Garfield - Twitter: @michaelgarfield on August 16th, 02020

Bronze-Age crime scene forensics: newly discovered artifacts only deepen the mystery of a 3,300-year-old battle. What archaeologists previously thought to be a local skirmish looks more and more like a regional conflict that drew combatants in from hundreds of kilometers away…but why?

Much like the total weirdness of the Ediacaran fauna of 580 million years ago, this oldest Bronze-Age battlefield is the earliest example of its kind in the record…and firsts are always difficult to analyze:

Among the stash are also three bronze cylinders that may have been fittings for bags or boxes designed to hold personal gear—unusual objects that until now have only been discovered hundreds of miles away in southern Germany and eastern France.

‘This was puzzling for us,’ says Thomas Terberger, an archaeologist at the University of Göttingen in Germany who helped launch the excavation at Tollense and co-authored the paper. To Terberger and his team, that lends credence to their theory that the battle wasn’t just a northern affair.

Anthony Harding, an archaeologist and Bronze Age specialist who was not involved with the research: ‘Why would a warrior be going round with a lot of scrap metal?’ he asks. To interpret the cache—which includes distinctly un-warlike metalworking gear—as belonging to warriors is ‘a bit far-fetched to me,’ he says.