Imagine the surprise of archaeologists in Germany when they stumbled upon skeletal remains unlike any they had ever encountered – the skull of one skeleton was completely hollowed out. This shocking discovery was made during excavations near a 1,000-year-old former royal palace built by Roman Emperor Otto the Great in the village of Helfta, Saxony-Anhalt.
Close examination revealed that the two skeletons were buried side by side, leading experts to speculate that they may have been a married couple, according to Oliver Dietrich, an archaeologist with the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin. The woman, slightly shorter than the man and standing at 5 feet 1 inch tall, was found without facial bones, but further analysis revealed that her skull wasn’t actually scooped out; rather, it had been damaged later due to the shallow grave just below the soil layer.
But it was the man’s grave that yielded more intriguing discoveries. He was interred with iron objects – a knife, a belt set, and the iron tip of a staff – indicating his possible noble status at the time of his death. Archaeology professor Felix Biermann from the University of Szczecin suggested that the man may have been an official in the Frankish castle or hillfort, given the absence of weapons.
In contrast, the woman’s grave lacked burial items, potentially due to theft or her adherence to Christianity. Biermann hypothesized that this difference in burial offerings may have signified a shift towards Christianity during a time when the religion was gaining acceptance. Further analysis is underway to uncover the identities of the pair and the circumstances surrounding their deaths.