No Graves, No Burials: Archaeologists Find Bodies of Massacre Victims from Iron Age

·2-min read

Archaeologists have reasons to believe that an archaeological site in Spain is actually a massacre ground from the Iron Ages thousands of years ago.

The site is not newly discovered. It was spotted by archaeologists in 1935 and excavated in 1973. The town of La Hoya is in Spain’s Basque region. It was destroyed between 350 and 200 BC in a violent attack. Since then, the town has never been reoccupied. It is believed that those who died simply remained there, that is until the town was excavated by modern archaeologists.

The researchers wanted to know more about the attack. Since the event is from the Iron Age, considered to be “protohistory” in which writing had not developed, a majority of knowledge about the era is dependent on such excavations.

A team from Oxford University and another from Spain studied 13 skeletons that were removed from the site. Despite being in knowledge for decades, this is the first detailed analysis of human remains recovered from the site.

The remains included men as well as women and children. “One male suffered multiple frontal injuries, suggesting that he was facing his attacker,” said Teresa Fernández-Crespo who is a lead author in this study.

She further added that this individual was actually decapitated but his skull was never found. Her best guess, the attackers took it with them like a trophy.

Another person was evidently stabbed from the behind. Arms were cut off from a pair of man and woman, the study claimed. It was published in the journal Antiquity.

However, the remains don’t seem to be buried in proper graves. There is no evidence to suggest anyone came back, survivor or even attacker, to bury the dead. No one even came to collect their belongings, the study suggests.

Some skeletons were left on the street, some left in burning buildings. All of these clues hint towards a possible massacre by an enemy group. The researchers deduce that La Hoya’s location between Cantabrian region on Spain's Atlantic coast, the Mediterranean and Spain's interior plateau might have something to do with the attack.

Experts believe the settlement was a hub of social, commercial and political activities. But the new evidence suggests the time wasn’t as peaceful as some historians might believe.