The mass grave was discovered in 2007 and analyzed for more than a decade. It was discovered that the massacre could be “indiscriminate” in controlling a population. Photo: Mario Novak / Anthropological Research Institute
About 6,200 years ago, 41 people were killed in what is now Croatia and were buried in a mass grave. They may have been killed by members of their community, according to a new analysis of the remains.
Adult men and women were among the dead, but they were all ages The ages of the group ranged from 2 to 50 years, and half of the skeletons were children. In a new study, scientists reported that many of the fatal blows were on the skull that fell from behind, and there were no marks on the arm bones indicating that the victims attempted to defend themselves from their attackers.
The genetic analysis showed thatAbout 70% of the deceased were not closely related to other victims, but they all share a common ancestor. TheInvestigators suspected the massacre may have been caused by A. A sudden population boom or change in climatic conditions has depleted resources and led to indiscriminate mass killing.
The grave was discovered in 2007, when a man lived in a small town in the Potochani Hills, Croatia, digging the foundation for a garage, and torrential rain revealed a pit containing dozens of skeletons. Mario Novak, lead author of the new study and head of the Evolutionary Anthropology and Biological Archeology Laboratory at the research center, said archaeologists at the University of Zagreb were conducting a survey nearby and were able to begin investigating the mass grave the day it was discovered. Anthropological Institute of Zagreb, Croatia.
The well is small They are 6.5 feet (2 meters) in diameter and 3 feet (1 meter) deep, and at least 41 bodies have been unofficially dumped there. Initially, archaeologists believed the remains were modern, either from World War II or the Croatian War of Independence in the 1990s, Novak told Live Science. But there were no contemporary objects in the well, only pottery pieces that looked from prehistoric times. When investigators examined the victims’ teeth, they found no dental fillings.. Radiocarbon dating of bones, soil, and pottery fragments confirmed the age of the burial, dating from about 4200 BC. C.
Blunt head injuries that occurred at or near the time of death in two Potochani people: (left) an 11-17-year-old boy and (right) a young adult woman. (Image source: Photo by M. Novak, Copyright Institute for Anthropological Research)
Researchers have identified 21 of the victims are children between the ages of 2 and 17, and 20 as children between the ages of 18 and 50; Among the dead were 21 men and 20 women.
But how did they end up buried together? For the new study, Novak and colleagues took DNA samples from the remains and analyzed the bones of 38 people. When investigators searched the bodies, Most of them were found to have had at least one traumatic injury to the back of the skull, and some skulls had as many as four holes. Mass graves in medieval Europe often contained people of all ages and races succumbing to the Black Death, but the victims at Well Potochani died of violence, not contagious diseases, Novak explained.
“The only plausible scenario was a massacre.” He said.
The distribution of men and women, adults and children, was roughly equal, and had no injuries to their limbs or faces, so it is possible that they were not killed in a skirmish during the fighting. It is not known if victims are paralyzed or unable to fend for themselves: “If someone attacks you with a baton or a sword, you are reflexively raising your forearm to protect your head. Which would have left at least some of the remains with signs of a wound in the arm bones. “Diego Novak. “But we did not witness any injuries to the face or any defensive injuries.”
The mass burial of Potochani, where the upper layers of the pit show many mixed skeletons. (Image credit: Novak et al, 2021, PLOS One (CC-BY 4.0,
The genetic data showed that Only 11 of the victims were close relatives, so the massacre was not directed at a specific family group. Nor does it appear to be a discriminatory planned murder, as enemies tend to kill older men while capturing women.
“In this case, it was just random massacre, with no concern for sex and age.” Diego Novak.
In contrast to the Neolithic death pit recently described in Spain that also contained a mixture of both male and female skeletons, young and old, the DNA of the Croatian pit victims showed that although they are not close relatives, they have ancestors in. It is common, indicating that they were not newcomers – as in the Spanish case – and that their deaths were not due to the indigenous community’s desire to protect their lands.
“We can rule out that this massacre was linked to an influx of new immigrants.” Diego Novak.
Three penetrating wounds to the right side of a young, adult Potochani skull. (Image source: Photo by M. Novak, Copyright Institute for Anthropological Research)
The most likely explanation is the one proposed by archaeologists and climatologists of other ancient pogrom sites in Germany and Austria dating back about 5,000 years, in which adults and children were also randomly killed and thrown into shallow mass graves. In those scenariosProlonged climate change triggering floods or droughts, possibly coupled with an unexpected population boom, could have sparked conflicts over precious resources. And in Potočani, one of those struggles turned fatal.
“By studying such ancient massacres, we can try to get a glimpse of the psyche of these people and perhaps try to prevent similar events from happening today. Diego Novak.
“We have evidence of ancient pogroms dating back at least 10,000 years. Today we also have recent massacres. The only thing that has changed is that we now have more efficient means and weapons to do these things. But I don’t think human nature or human psychology has changed much. “
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