Wednesday 20 September 2023

Body of 1300-year-old Frankish warrior unearthed at Ingelheim am Rhein.

Archaeologists working at an early medieval cemetery at Ingelheim am Rhein, about 40 km to the west of Frankfurt, this June unearthed the body of a Frankish warrior dating from about 1300 years before the present, according to a press release issued by the Kaiserpfalz Ingelheim on 4 August 2023. The body was located in a Merovingian cemetery between Rotweinstrasse and Stevenagestrasse, which had been under investigation since 2015. Most of the graves within the site had previously been looted during the later medieval period, so the discovery came as somewhat of a surprise. 

The warrior was armed with a spathe, a double-edged sword with a blade of about 75 cm and a total length of about 90 cm, originally made popular by Roman cavalry officers, but widely used in the early medieval period, as well as a sax, a second shorter sword with a heavy cutting edge, and a large knife, as well as a spear and a shield. 

The warrior from grave 447 with his impressive arsenal of weapons: shield boss, sword (spatha) and broadaxe as well as, next to the head, the tip of the lance. Another heavy knife is hidden under the skeleton. Christoph Bassler/Kaiserpfalz Ingelheim.

The warrior is thought to have been between 30 and 40 years of age at the time of his death, although how he died is unclear, with no signs of either physical injury or disease found on his skeleton to date. Despite his impressive array of arms, he is unlikely to have been either a professional soldier or particularly rich. Instead, he was probably a comfortably off freeman, who would have been expected to maintain a set of arms and serve in his lords militia when called upon to do so. 

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