A brilliant team of three archeologists and one biochemist have used a novel technique to analyze several pottery vessels made sometime between 600 and 450 BCE in an old German settlement. And what they found inside is astonishing.
Nestled within burial mounds, the team found six, smashed ceramic jars and took small samples from each. After a good cleaning in a chemical solution to collect the remaining proteins, they then compared the 166 compounds with a protein database in hopes of finding a match. Surely enough, they came across a surprising discovery - traces of human organs, blood, and a deadly, tick-borne virus - Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever - that still kills some people today across western Asia through southern Africa.
"This is the first identification of CCHFV or any hemorrhagic fever virus in the archaeological record," said Conner Wiktorowicz, the study's lead researcher and a Ph.D. candidate in archaeology at Purdue University. It's the only known example of human organs and blood being buried in old pottery as well, making archeologists wonder if this was a more widespread practice than they had previously thought.
The findings suggest those living in the settlement of Heuneburg where the pottery was found cared deeply for their dead loved ones, so much that they put organs into the jars.
So what's this mean for science wizards? It could answer and offer many more questions regarding the ancient people of the world.
"What have archaeologists been missing regarding social practices and the use of pottery vessels in the past?" Wiktorowicz added. "I can’t imagine all of the exciting new findings other researchers will make."