Badger Helps Archaeologists Uncover 12th Century Burial Site
August 18, 2013

Mystery Badger Leads Archaeologists To Medieval Burial Site

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Archaeologists who unearthed the tombs of two medieval lords are crediting a badger living underneath a farm in the Brandenburg town of Stolpe with an assist on the discovery, various media outlets are reporting.

The 12th century burial site is home to a pair of Slavic lords, as well as a cache of artifacts including a sword, bronze bowls, an ornate belt buckle and skeletal remains, UPI reported early last week.

While researchers Lars Wilhelm and Hendrikje Ring were the humans in charge of the expedition, however, they unlikely wouldn’t have found the graves without the help of the short-legged omnivore.

“We spotted a pelvic bone that had been dug up, it was clearly human,” Ring told David Crossland of Spiegel Online. “It wasn't exactly surprising to us because a whole field of ancient graves had been found on the other side of the road in the 1960s. So we pushed a camera into the badger's sett and took photos by remote control. We found pieces of jewelry, retrieved them and contacted the authorities.”

According to Crossland, that occurred last autumn. Since then, thanks largely to the badger’s efforts, the archeologists went on to discover a total of eight graves, all of which dated back to the first half of the 12th century.

The skeletons in the graves of the two lords had bronze bowls at their feet, which Thomas Kersting of the Brandenburg Department for Monument Protection said helped identify them as being members of the social upper crust (the bowls were used to wash their hands before eating).

Other objects discovered included an arrow head and a bronze belt buckle that was omega-shaped and had snake heads at either end, Crossland added. One of the two skeletons was said to be especially well preserved, and – based on multiple sword and lance wounds, a healed fracture suggesting that he had fallen from a horse at one point, and the presence of a sword at his side – the archaeologists believe that the individual had been a warrior.

The discovery was only made public during the past week, and last month Wilhelm – who had discovered the pelvic bone – was presented with an award for services to archaeology in Brandenburg.

However, during all of this, there has been no sign of the badger. Nonetheless, his efforts are appreciated. “This doesn't make him an archaeologist but he's the one who discovered it,” Ring said. Kersting added that he was an “honorary member” of the team.