Striking Discovery in Germany: Archaeologists Excavate 4,000-Year-Old Skeletons

Archaeologists in Germany have made a number of sensational finds along a railway line under construction in eastern Germany -- Bronze Age treasures, burial sites and evidence of settlements dating back more than 7,000 years.

Archaeologists in the state of Saxony-Anhalt have uncovered 4,000-year-old skeletons and Bronze Age treasures in excavations along a railway line being built in eastern Germany.

Copper and amber jewellery and hundreds of dogs' teeth with holes bored in them as well as small shell discs worn as decoration for clothing have been found in the remains of settlements and graves from various epochs along the planned high-speed railway line from the cities of Erfurt to Leipzig, the Saxony Anhalt Office for Monument Protection and Archaeology said in a statement.

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Photo Gallery: Archaeologists Discover 4,000-Year-Old Skeletons
"The broad range of traces from ancient cultures and the number and quality of the individual finds show how important this region has been for thousands of years not just as a settlement area, but as a transport route," the statement said. Over the last year, archaeologists have retrieved more than 55,000 items on an area of around 100 hectares (247 acres).

The region boasts fertile land and has been settled for at least 7,500 years. Relics of the more recent past have also been found, including a Slavic graveyard from the ninth or 10th century AD. "Even though the bodies were laid with the head pointed west according to the Christian tradition, receptacles and food remains placed with the bodies indicate that heathen traditions were also observed in furnishing the dead," the statement said.

The construction of the Inter City Express (ICE) rail link has provided a unique opportunity to conduct a 22-kilometer dig along one of the key settlement areas of central Germany. The excavations will continue until mid-2010.

The find includes a farm from the early Bronze Age Unetice culture of 2200 to 1600 BC. Near the 20-meter-long main building a small burial site with eight graves was found. DNA testing will be applied to establish whether and how the people were related.

cro -- with wire reports

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