A grave affair: 7,000-year-old skeleton discovered in perfect condition
Archaeologists who, at best, were expecting to find traces of some old city walls were shocked to uncover a perfectly-preserved 7,000-year-old skeleton.
Lying in a foetal position, the remains were found during a dig near Kraków.
The discovery came during work to revitalize the market square and replace paving stones in Słomniki, which lies about 15 kilometres north of Kraków.
Archaeologist Paweł Micyk, who is in charge of work at the site, said: “We expected to find the remains of the city walls from the mediaeval period, perhaps remnants of the city's beginnings. No one predicted that we would hit prehistoric objects.”
The rare find has been preliminarily dated as being 7,000-years-old based on the arrangement of the body and the pottery fragments found in the grave.
Micyk added that, unfortunately, objects in the grave had been partially disturbed; however, eight old fragments of very distinctive pottery had survived.
The grave is believed to belong to a member of the first farmers in current-day Poland who appeared in the region from the Balkans but originated from Asia Minor.
“The burial of the man found with his legs contracted, that is, in an embryonic position, is typical of the period. This was associated with
the religious practices of the time and the positioning of the body, like a baby in the womb,” said Micyk.
Other evidence pointing to the skeleton being 7,000-years-old include fragments of a vessel whose decorations point to the Linear Pottery Culture.
Micyk pointed out the note-style decorations that were carved into the wet clay with a stylus. Archaeologists associated the dashes and indentations with musical notes, hence the style’s name.
The vessel found in the tomb was a grave gift, which testifies to a belief in an afterlife.
The skeleton has a partially cracked skull, but archaeologists say that this could be the result of being crushed by the earth when the grave cavity was filled in.
Other prehistoric objects have been found in Słomniki. They include 3,000-4,000 year old Bronze Age items such as a clay spinning wheel along with fragments of weights used in weaving, as well as pieces of clay vessels and flint tools.
Słomniki has a long-recorded history stretching back to 1287 when it appeared in historical records as a hunting and trading settlement. It officially became a city during the reign of King Casimir III the Great in 1358.
The dig is still ongoing and archaeologists expect more interesting discoveries in the near future.