A medieval grave containing 12th-century skeletal remains has been discovered in Germany thanks to a four-legged, furry creature.
Unaware of the ancient spot, a badger had made its underground home on a farm in the town of Stolpe in Brandenburg.
Lars Wilhelm and Hendrikje Ring, who live on the farm, are amateur archeologists. They were on their way to exhibit some work near the badger’s home when they spotted a human pelvic bone.
“It wasn’t exactly surprising to us because a whole field of ancient graves had been found on the other side of the road in the 1960s,” Wilhelm told Spiegel Online. “So we pushed a camera into the badger’s sett and took photos by remote control.”
After finding pieces of jewelry, Wilhelm and Ring contacted the authorities.
Further digging at the site lead to a sword, bronze bowls, an ornate belt buckle and a number of human skeletons.
Researchers from the University of Güttingen said the Slavic burial site contains the remains of at least eight people—several warriors and two lords, reported Germany’s The Local.
Thomas Kersting, an archeologist at the Brandenburg Department for Monument Protection, told Spiegel Online the bronze bowls found at the feet of two of the skeletons indicated their elite social status.
“They had the bowls to wash their hands before dining because they knew that was the refined thing to do,” Kersting said.
One of the warrior’s graves appeared to have been robbed of a sword, leading researchers to believe the remains are from a time of conflict between heathen Slavic tribes and Christians, Kersting said.
“We haven’t found graves like that in Brandenburg before so it’s an important discovery,” he added.
The badger’s 12th-century discovery happened last fall but was made public this week.
The artifacts will go on display in September at the Archaeological State Museum in the town of Brandenburg, reported Spiegel Online.
The accidental archaeologist badger, however, is nowhere to be found.
Compiled using Review-Journal News Services