Archaeologists have discovered in northern Spain that they are not for the faint of heart: the skeletons of men, women and children periodically frozen in the exact locations of those who died had their limbs shattered.
The millennium-old village La Hoya did not have a peaceful end. Researchers already knew that a brutal massacre wiped out the site’s last inhabitants. Archaeologists have been excavating the village since 1973.
Although only 15% have been detected so far, new findings continue to explain how the attack was transmitted – and who the victims were. Recently, a team analyzed 13 skeletons recovered from the site. Their results, published in the journal Entity on Thursday, show that the remains belong to nine adults, two teenagers, a 3-year-old child and a 6-month-old infant.
The new analysis offers a violent picture of the destruction of the village. Examination of the bones reveals that the attackers used bladed weapons such as swords or axes to destroy the villagers. Two of the victims, a 30-year-old male and teenage girl, had their weapons controversial. The girl’s body was found several feet away from her foot, suggesting that she either lost consciousness or collapsed again before walking away from her attacker for too long.
His arm was discovered around the wrist with a series of bracelets.
There is also evidence that at least one victim, a 35-year-old man, clashed with his attacker.
The lead author of the research, Dr. “One male suffered multiple frontal injuries, causing him to face his attacker,” Fernandez-Crespo said in a statement. “This person was removed, but the skull was not recovered, and could be taken as a trophy.”
The man was seen lying in a street near the village’s main square.
The study found that other skeletons burned extensively due to fire in the buildings. Those who did not die on the road were likely to burn inside their homes.
Many personal belongings were also found on the site – a sign that no one left to retrieve them.
“We can conclude that the purpose of the attackers was the total destruction of La Hoya,” the researchers said in a statement.
If the village had not been attacked, the skeletons would not have been protected, as the villagers of La Hoya usually cremated their dead.
The attack probably originated from nowhere: La Hoya was an iconic location during the Iron Age around the third century BCE, thanks to its fertile lands and proximity to the nearby Cantabrian and Mediterranean regions.
In its zone, the 1,500-person village was relatively urbanized, with paved footpaths and pedestrian crossings. It was even surrounded by defensive walls to guard against invaders.
This means that the group that destroyed the site must have been a large and well-organized one. Since the Romans had not yet arrived in the area, the researchers think that the attackers would have been fellow Spaniards who wanted control of the land.
The remains, he wrote, “showed evidence of a surprise attack, resulting in the indiscriminate and brutal killing of helpless or helpless people.”
Earlier archaeological evidence gave the impression that the area was less violent during the Iron Age, but the massacre indicates that vicious conflict was underway in Spain at the time. The site is a reminder, the researchers said, that war affects entire communities – not just those engaged in war.