Gruesome Burned Skeletons Reveal Rare Evidence Of Goth Invasion

Along with the charred bodies, archaeologists discovered hundreds of coins and a small figurine. Courtesy of Elena Bozhinova

This jumbled mess of charred bones and dirt contains some of the few bits of physical evidence of an ancient invasion by the Goths, the nomadic hell-raisers notorious for the sacking of ancient Rome.

The 1,700-year-old remains of three people, two adults and a child, were recently discovered within the ancient ruins of a building near the modern-day city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The two adult skeletons had been heavily damaged by fire, making it hard to identify how they died. However, The Sofia Globe reports that the child appears to have been taken out with an arrow, a sure sign that a bloody battle took place.

Judging by other evidence on the scene, it makes sense to assume this battle was the invasion of Philippopolis in 250 CE, a flame-filled fight between the Goths and the Roman Empire that occurred in one of the oldest inhabited cities in Europe.

Courtesy of Elena Bozhinova

“The stratigraphic position of the burnt house and the artifacts suggest that the fire happened around the middle of the third century, when the city was conquered by the Goths,” Elena Bozhinova, lead researcher on the excavation from the Plovdiv Museum of Archaeology, told National Geographic.

Along with the charred bodies, archaeologists discovered hundreds of coins and a small figurine, perhaps depicting Venus, the Roman goddess of love, sex, and beauty.

Courtesy of Elena Bozhinova

Although most infamous for the sacking of Rome in 410 CE, the Goths were a band of nomadic Germanic tribes who raised hell across much of Europe, from current-day France to the Black Sea, until their kingdom fell in the year 711 CE. During this time, they rose into established kingdoms, the Visigoths in Western Europe and the Ostrogoths in Eastern Europe. However, before this, not much is known about their story until they started having run-ins with the Romans, so this discovery is pretty exciting stuff.

Even less is known about the Battle of Philippopolis. Researchers have previously discovered burnt buildings from this period, but it is rare to come across human remains from the battle.

The remains are pretty grizzly, but nothing too unusual for the "barbarians" of Europe at the time. Just recently, archaeologists published a study about a bog filled with 380 bodies that resulted from a bloody battle between Northern European tribes around 2,000 years ago. Strangest of all, many of the bodies appeared to have been subjected to a gruesome and unusual ritual after they died...

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