Dating bronze artifacts
The artifacts all were radiocarbon-dated to about 1250 B. E., suggesting they stemmed from a single episode during Europe’s Bronze Age.
Now, after a series of excavations between 20, researchers have begun to understand the battle and its startling implications for Bronze Age society.
Thousands of warriors came together in a brutal struggle, perhaps fought on a single day, using weapons crafted from wood, flint, and bronze, a metal that was then the height of military technology.
Struggling to find solid footing on the banks of the Tollense River, a narrow ribbon of water that flows through the marshes of northern Germany toward the Baltic Sea, the armies fought hand-to-hand, maiming and killing with war clubs, spears, swords, and knives.
A favorite mug decorated with an image of a cherished dog, or inscribed with a clever phrase that elicits a smile as you take your first morning sips of steaming coffee.“It’s customary to believe that the objects that were interred alongside an individual continued with them into the next world,” says Itach.Thus the little pot, at first mundane and familiar, becomes a distinctive marker of a person’s individuality and place in society even after they are long gone.Some bodies were stripped of their valuables and left bobbing in shallow ponds; others sank to the bottom, protected from plundering by a meter or two of water. In 1996, an amateur archaeologist found a single upper arm bone sticking out of the steep riverbank—the first clue that the Tollense Valley, about 120 kilometers north of Berlin, concealed a gruesome secret.
A flint arrowhead was firmly embedded in one end of the bone, prompting archaeologists to dig a small test excavation that yielded more bones, a bashed-in skull, and a 73-centimeter club resembling a baseball bat.
Bronze itself, created in the Near East around 3200 B. “We had considered scenarios of raids, with small groups of young men killing and stealing food, but to imagine such a big battle with thousands of people is very surprising,” says Svend Hansen, head of the German Archaeological Institute’s (DAI’s) Eurasia Department in Berlin.