Archaeologists uncover animal sacrifices in 'complex' Neolithic burial system

Archaeologists have recently discovered a “surprisingly complex” ancient burial system, complete with animal sacrifices, during a dig in central Germany.

The excavation site is near Magdeburg, roughly 100 miles southwest of Berlin. U.S. semiconductor giant Intel is planning to build two plants in the area, prompting officials from Germany’s State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology of Saxony-Anhalt (LDA) to launch archaeological digs before the groundbreaking takes place.

In a press release, the LDA explained that the site was significant in Neolithic Germany because of its fertile soil.

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“The 300 hectare large industrial park also partially includes a small hill, known as Eulenberg,” the statement reads. “Although not particularly high, it divides the otherwise relatively low-relief Börde landscape, whose fertile loss and black earth soils were an important factor for settlement already during the early Neolithic period.”

Archaeologists have uncovered a complex burial system near Magdeburg, Germany. (State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology of Saxony-Anhalt)

“The area currently examined turned out to be a highly complex, long-used burial and ritual landscape.”

During the project, researchers uncovered burial mounds and chariot burials of humans and animals. Chariot burials are ancient graves where humans were buried with their possessions and their chariot, usually horses.

The 6,000-year-old burial mounds, built in the middle Neolithic period between 4100 B.C. and 3600 B.C., are covered with wooden grave chambers. The chambers contained several bodies, and the burial mounds were around 650 feet away from each other.

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Experts say that they’ve uncovered the grave of a man who was buried with his young cattle between 3300 B.C. and 2800 B.C. (State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology of Saxony-Anhalt)

Archaeologists also found the body of a man, aged between 35 and 40 years old, who was buried with his young cattle between 3300 B.C. and 2800 B.C. The 2- to 3-year-old cattle were sacrificed as a religious offering.

The man’s body and the animals were arranged to appear like a person driving cattle.

“[The grave was created with] the image of a cart with a driver or a plow pulled by cattle, orchestrations that are already known from other older and contemporary burials,” the LDA described. “They symbolize that with the cattle the most important possession, the security of one’s own livelihood, was offered to the gods.”

In an email to Fox News Digital, the leader of the excavation project predicted that the dig would be finished by April.

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The man’s cattle were killed and buried with him as a sacrifice to the gods, researchers say. (State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology of Saxony-Anhalt)

“What we now discovered on the Eulenberg is a surprisingly complex burial landscape of the Neolithic period, the younger Stone Age,” Dr. Susanne Friederich explained.

“Prehistoric people recreated a scene from their lives: a team of cattle with the coachman behind them.”

Friederich noted that Eulenberg was important to different Neolithic cultures for hundreds of years — an unexpected discovery.

“Towards the end of the Neolithic, the area was again used to erect burial mounds,” she said. “The evidence indicates that the Eulenberg remained important for prehistoric people of different cultures for a long period of time, which is quite astonishing.”

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Andrea Vacchiano is a breaking news writer for Fox News Digital and Fox Business. You can follow her on X at @andrea_vacch or send story tips to [email protected].

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