Mystery as 38 skeletons found in chilling 7,000-year-old mass grave – and all but one had been decapitated

MYSTERY surrounds the discovery of a 7,000-year-old mass grave containing 38 skeletons – and only one had not been decapitated.

The burial site was discovered by archaeologists at Vrable-Velke Lehemby in Slovakia, one of the largest European Neolithic settlements.


The decapitated skeletons were discovered in a Neolithic burial site in SlovakiaLaw: Institute of Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology

Preliminary studies show the heads were deliberately removed after death, with only one skeleton, a child under the age of 6, having its skull intact, a study showed.

Archaeologists are now trying to work out why the heads were so methodically removed with theories saying it could have been written as a warning, a funeral ritual or a way to honor the dead.

Katharina Fuchs, an anthropologist at Germany’s Kiel University who worked on it, said the headless bodies stand out from traditional burials found in the same area.


Initial examinations of the remains suggest the beheadings were intentional, according to Fuchs.

He said that in the bodies that were preserved well enough to be able to see the bones of the neck, the first vertebra, just below the skull, which was still intact.

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This suggests that the head was severed with very sharp tools, rather than being cut off during battle.

Katerina said Business Insider: “When you have a violent decapitation, like in the medieval ages with a sword or an axe, you would see cut marks and also crushed vertebra in the neck areas.”

However, Martin Furholt, professor of prehistory and social archeology at the University of Kiel and head of the project, said it was unclear whether the heads had been removed before or after death.

The research has detailed accounts of Neolithic people beheading bodies after death and taking the head with them.

Professor Furholt told the news agency: “People often kept these heads in their homes or put them elsewhere.”


Fuchs added that it was entirely possible that these heads had been removed as a violent act of war or deterrence, with the heads taken as trophies.

Two other notable mass graves, at Talheim and Herxheim, have been found in the area.

In Talheim, Germany, the remains of 34 men, women and children were discovered and believed to have been slaughtered by a nearby village and left to rot.

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While in Herxheim, also in Germany, about 450 people were found in a ditch, the bodies were completely dismembered with cut marks on the bones and skull.

This would indicate that flesh was cut from the bones before the bodies were thrown into the pit.

A 2009 study suggested that this could be evidence of ritual cannibalism, although this hypothesis has been rejected by other academics who see the site as a large necropolis.

Furholt said Neolithic people may have seen the bodies as having magical powers, and their bodies helped strengthen the palisades.

Vrable-Velke Lehemby consisted of three settlements occupied between 5,250 BC. and 4,950 BC

Previous excavations of the site had uncovered other headless skeletons, but these were spread more thinly and interspersed with more regular burials.

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There may even be more bodies in the grave, but Fuchs said they had to stop digging because they were limited to excavating just over five weeks.

Bones found at the edge of the tomb indicate that it continues further than has been discovered so far.

Archaeologists are trying to find out why the heads were removed


Archaeologists are trying to find out why the heads were removedLaw: Institute of Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology