The spectacularly grisly discovery of the battered corpses of ten 6,000-year-old individuals in France has got the archaeology world buzzing with talk of gruesome ancient battles and mob-style massacres. Found with their skulls smashed in and multiple injuries to their hands and legs, the losers in this deadly contest are thought to have been Neolithic marauders from the Parisian basin, who met their brutal end while on a warrior raid in the Alsace region of north-east France.
A team representing the National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (Infrap) told news outlets that the bodies – which included five adults and one adolescent – were found piled up inside an ancient silo, suggesting they had all been massacred together. Also present were the severed arms of four more individuals, which Infrap’s Philippe Lefranc says were probably taken as trophies by the perpetrator of this atrocity.
According to Lefranc, the ten victims “were very brutally executed and received violent blows, almost certainly from a stone axe,” while the nature of their injuries indicate that the assailants were likely to have been “furious ritualized warriors.”
Judging by the fact that the bodies were found within an area that was enclosed by a defensive wall, archaeologists believe the ancient Alsatians of the period were in the midst of “a troubled time,” characterized by “insecurity” and warfare.
In this case, they appear to have clashed with their Parisian invaders and come out on top, although further analysis of the bones, including genetic testing, should help to shed more light on exactly what happened.
“It appears that a warrior raid by people from the Parisian basin went wrong for the assailants, and the Alsatians of the era massacred them,” says Lefranc. However, other nearby findings including pottery and the remains of some small villages suggest that the invaders did eventually have their way, and overtook the region around 4,200 BCE.