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Brutal deaths of Iron Age massacre victims revealed after site frozen in time
October 2, 2020
Experts have discovered the grisly remains of a gruesome Iron Age massacre.
Archaeologists uncovered the evidence, frozen in time for thousands of years until excavation, in the ancient town of La Hoya in northern Spain's Basque Country.
It was destroyed in a violent attack between 350 and 200 BC and the town was never reoccupied, meaning those who died remained where they had fallen until the town was excavated.
Discovered in 1935 and first excavated in 1973, the ancient town of La Hoya in northern Spain's Basque Country was destroyed in a violent attack between 350 and 200 BC.
The town was never reoccupied, and those who died in the attack remained where they had fallen until the town was excavated.
It was first discovered in 1935 and excavated in 1973, but researchers from the University of Oxford and a team of archaeologists wanted to find out more about the brutal attack.
They studied 13 skeletons recovered from the site in the first detailed analysis of the human remains.
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They found out children and women were among the dead.
Teresa Fernández-Crespo, lead author of the research, said: "This individual was decapitated but the skull was not recovered, and may have been taken as a trophy.
"Another man was stabbed from behind, while a man and a woman had their arms cut off, according to the study published in the archaeology journal Antiquity.
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There is no evidence of people returning to the town to bury the dead or collect their belongings. Analysis showed some skeletons had been left in burning buildings while some were left where they had fallen in the streets.
The researchers added: "From this we can conclude that the aim of the attackers was the total destruction of La Hoya.
Experts believe the settlement was an important hub of social, commercial and political activities.
Researchers think La Hoya is the only Iron Age site on the Iberian Peninsula whose destruction could have been caused by local communities.
Ms Fernandez-Lopez added: "The new analysis of the human skeletal remains from La Hoya reminds us very forcefully that the prehistoric past was not always the peaceful place it is sometimes made out to be."