Saturday, April 4, 2020

Gelting – Memento mori from the Middle Ages – Bad Tölz-Wolfratshausen

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Excavator driver accidentally digs up bones – archaeologists recover and investigate the find

Actually, the worker only wanted to shovel the next shovel of earth, but things should turn out differently: when digging the trench for sewer work on a construction site in Gelting, he came across bones with his excavator – the remains of a human being. A little later, another skeleton was found elsewhere on the property. It is now clear that the remains are older – archaeologists are now trying to classify and date them.

“When digging, the excavator driver came across something hard,” says Markus Fagner, owner of the Ickingen company Farch Archeology. The construction workers then informed the police. Fagner’s company was then commissioned to properly recover the skeletons. With the appropriate material and an expert team, they went to work and inspected the skeleton that was buried in the ground to the side of the trench. The second skeleton was also examined and the results meticulously recorded. According to Fagner, it is a male and a female skeleton. “Given the location and position of the skeletons, it is very likely that these are Christian graves, because the heads are facing east,” says the studied archaeologist. This symbolizes the resurrection, the gaze is directed to the east. According to the belief, the dead should first see the rising sun at the resurrection and then go towards it.

It is difficult to say more about the people. “Since we have not found any burials with the corpses, we cannot determine who they are.” However, uninhibited graves suggested that they were skeletons that were not younger than those of the high Middle Ages. “But it could also be earlier,” said Fagner. It is difficult to date exactly what time the skeletons date from. Due to the fact that no additions were found, nothing can be said about the social position. It used to be common for wealthier people to be buried closer to a church. The location, however, is not an indication that the two people did not hold a high social rank. Because although today’s Geltingen church is distant, it is still possible that a church stood in the vicinity of the site in the high Middle Ages. So far, nothing has been found.

In Gelting and the surrounding area, the discovery of the excavator driver is exceptional. “As far as I know, the discovery of the first of this kind has taken place in several years,” says the archaeologist. The last time graves were found in the region many years ago when the motorway feeder was being built. Graves – probably from the 6th or 7th century – were found several years ago where the Geltinger recycling center is today. Fagner does not want to commit himself exactly there.

In the meantime, the female and male skeletons have been recovered and removed. The archaeological investigations on the construction site have been completed, the sewer work can now continue. Fagner and his team, who have extensively documented everything digitally and analogously, are now taking care of the evaluation of the data collected.

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