Burial Suggests Huns Were Present in Southern Poland

News June 14, 2024

Jakub M. Niebylski

KRAKOW, POLAND—Jakub Niebylski of the Polish Academy of Sciences and his colleagues have examined two children’s skeletons recovered from a 1,600-year-old burial in southern Poland in 2018, according to a Live Science report. The first child, a boy who died between the ages of seven and nine, had ancestors from Central and Eastern Europe and had likely been born there himself. His bones were smooth, indicating that his body had been cooked before interment. Although he ate a diet rich in protein, the lack of grave goods with his body suggests that he had a lower social status than the other child buried in the grave. The ancestry of this second child, a boy between ages eight and nine at death, resembles that of nomads from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, although he had been born locally. The back of his skull had been manipulated so that it protruded, resembling a practice common among elite Huns. Lesions in his eye sockets indicate he may have suffered from anemia or another chronic disease. He was buried with gold and silver items, an iron knife, pottery, a dog, a cat, and crows. “The European boy was buried on his belly with his head opposite the head of the Hunnic boy,” said archaeologist Anita Szczepanek of the Polish Academy of Sciences. “But sometime later, [the European boy’s skull] was moved to his legs,” she added. It is not clear if the two children knew each other. To read about a 5,000-year-old mass grave unearthed in southern Poland, go to "We Are Family."

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